Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Cheepah Chicken

Okay, maybe I am the only one who remembers "Father of the Bride" with Steve Martin, but hey, the title makes me giggle and it is what goes through my head whenever I get chicken. I am not a huge fan of chicken generally, which is unfortunate because a whole chicken is a budgeting dream. This fryer was regularly 1.49 a pound, and while the roasters are .20 cents less, they are also much bigger. With a small family and only one large appetite, the smaller ones work better for us. That and the roasters tend to be less tasty when fried, which is what the legs will be used for.
Since I am usually not well, the idea of spending "spoons" making a grocery list and menu within a budget, and then going to the store and fighting the masses, then lugging it all home, putting it away and starting to process meats and fruits for use, it is a bit too much. I have lost a lot of meat and vegetables trying to do it all, even in a few days, so now I often go through Peapod online. My husband can pick it up for free, and that way doesn't have to work so hard after working so hard at the job all day. I have learned how to keep within a budget this way, and have stopped buying some things that are much more expensive through the service than if we went down ourselves. All of that was a lead up to saying that I got two chickens by accident. This worked out for you all, because after I processed one bird, I had my husband come in and take some photos of the second one to share on this blog. I would like to apologize in advance for the photo set up. The pictures were great, but I had to compile them like this to keep the page from loading improperly. They also seem somewhat over-sized for the blogger format even though I used their settings. This is the smallest I could set them and still be able to see anything.

Each chicken left me with:

2 boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 pound of chicken tenders
2 drumsticks
2 thighs
2 wings
1 carcass, bag of innards plus scraps for stock
1 liver which I freeze in a container until I have enough to do something with.
2 quarts of clear chicken broth

Keep in mind that there are more than one way to process a chicken. If I were making a large fried chicken dinner, for example, I would have kept the breasts on the bone and cut each half in half again. If I wanted to also serve chicken wings at the same time, I would have cut them off slightly different, so that they would have more meat on them from the breast. In this case, my husband has been helping with the cooking a lot and is a bit leery of cooking meat on bones, so I went ahead and boned the breasts which gave me more bones for the stock pot.

The one thing that will save your sanity while doing this very simple task is preparation. Yes, processing a chicken from the market is pretty simple. Once you do it a couple of times you will be a pro and wonder why you haven't been doing this all along.
Clean your work surface thoroughly and remove any clutter. You will need:

1 large cutting board
Various knives, I use my 8 inch chefs, Sontuku and paring knives
Poultry shears, these are not a "must" but they do make some of the jobs easier
Soft headed mallet, OR a nice heavy cleaver
2 clothes, one sanitary one that is not to be used with any of the actual chicken or juices, and one that is okay to wipe your hands on, it should be immediately put in the wash after as salmonella bacteria spread pretty easily and cross contamination is how most folks end up sick from it.
Paper towels
1 bowl for livers
1 bowl for chicken wings
1 bowl or plate for finished parts
1 large stock pot, if you have any bags of scraps saved for stock, now is the time to put that in right off.
1 wash cloth
Dish soap for clean up and washing hands. You will wash your hands a lot.

Set up your work space, making sure everything is easy to get to. I keep the wash cloth rinsed and by the sink so I can use it to turn on the faucet to avoid cross contamination from my chickeny hands.
Set up for cutting up a whole chicken
This is part of my set up. As you do this more often, you will find your own way that works best for you.

First, remove the wings

How to image for removing the wings on the chicken

For a better view of the photos, right click and choose "open image in new tab". When your cursor is over the photo, you should see it become a magnifying glass with a + inside of it. Just click on the photo to make it original size.

Next we take the legs and thighs

Pictorial of removing the legs and thighs from a whole chicken

Removing the back will help with boning the breast

Pictorial of removing the back bone of a whole chicken

De-boning a breast is easy!

Pictorial of deboning a whole chicken breast

image of chicken left overs in a pot

When I was done I had a bowl of chicken parts, a stock pot of extra bits for the stock and froze the liver separately for another use one day down the line. I also freeze my wings separately until I have enough for a meal, because buying them pre-cut is ridiculously expensive.
A heaping bowl of chicken parts, ready to go.

I have a new found respect for folks who blog actual step by steps with photos now. Practice makes perfect.. right?  Practice applies to cutting up your own chicken too. My husband took a lot of pictures, but the best ones where the ones when I was not trying to show anything, because it has become second nature to me. It is like trying to say the alphabet without the song, something you have to think about, otherwise you just do it.

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