Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"It smells like Thanksgiving!"

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I still have one baby, so I can make things like this happen while Little takes a nap. She has just started taking consistently good naps (as long as we're home to take them), so I feel like I can be the perfect good  decent SAHW that I planned on being when we made the decision for me to stay home with her.

One of my favorite domestic projects is taking apart a whole chicken. Call me sick crazy, but I get a lot of satisfaction from turning that intimidating whole bird (roasting it whole successfully continues to allude me) into useable parts. I started with this (maybe someday I'll use a fancy-pants farm-raised organic bird):
As purchased
After braving salmonella getting the chicken and its juices and innards out of the bag (the innards go straight into the stock pot), there's The Bird.

Mr. Salmonella
I use poultry shears to do most of the dirty work. Best $20 Bed Bath and Beyond ever got from me (and to be fair, they have mostly gotten money from people who gave me wedding gifts -- which I use and appreciate greatly), though I do use a knife to help get the meat, especially the breasts, off the carcass. I feel really accomplished when I successfully deconstruct a chicken.
Tools of the Trade
Officially, you should end up with 8 pieces of chicken and a carcass: 2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 legs, 2 wings. However, I cut it into pieces that I know I will use: 2 wings (that have so little meat they go into the stock pot), 2 breasts, some odd pieces of breast meat that didn't cut off cleanly that I can throw into soup down the road, and 2 chicken quarters (leg + thigh). I'll get 3-4 meals out of it.


I freeze what I won't be using right away (for dinner Monday, I used one ginormous breast, divided into two for dinner). I attack the counter with salmonella-killing cleaners. Then comes the best part of all: stock! The carcass, wings, and innards go into a stock pot with an onion (I quartered it), some carrots, some celery, some thyme (I had it on hand), some peppercorns, and enough water to cover. I bring it to a boil and then cover and let it simmer for a few hours (I love that there is no timer: when it looks done and I have a minute, it's done). While it was simmering the other day, C came home and announced that it smelled like Thanksgiving! Score!

The stock pot
Then, I strain the liquid into a large bowl two fairly large bowls and let it sit in the fridge at least overnight. Then, I skim off the fat (you don't want a picture of this, really!), and then portion it into freezer containers. Each one contains exactly approximately 2 cups of stock for soups or stews in the next couple of months. Today, I ended up with 8 containers of stock. :)

Future Soup Yummyness

For the price of a whole chicken, I got 3 quarts of low-fat, no sodium chicken stock, 4 meals worth of chicken meat, a fall-scented house, and had a lot of fun! I definitely call that a win!

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