Before you go any further there is a warning on this post. If you are vegetarian and inadvertently clicked on this post not reading the title, you may find this post a wee bit confronting. To avoid having abuse directed towards me, please close the window now as this is about to get messy.
When it comes to food, I tend to have a few goals for deciding on the food that this family eats. Apart from the obvious goals (tasty and nutritious most of the time) I try to be more aware of our food, less wasteful, less processed and lately because we are saving madly, cheap. Well it just so happens that butchering chickens myself tends to tick these goals.
I find that cutting up my own chicken helps me to respect the chicken that died for our meal that little bit more. I think it helps seeing just how much waste there really is when animals are cut up motivates me more to use every little bit of the animal so I make sure I am doing it justice. I know, sounds totally ridiculous because I am eating it anyway, however if I can make a chicken last for as many meals as possible I feel like it was worth it (and yes I know, it’s never worth it but you know what I mean).
It’s also insanely cheaper! We have a local butcher who regularly has twin pack of chickens for $7.99. While I’m aware that it is not likely that they are ethically produced if they can sell for that price, it ticks my money saving box and supports our local chicken producers rather than big business ones. So I can get at least 4 meals from one chicken so I’m looking at about $1 a meal for the meat portion (and that’s not to mention chicken stock I make with the bones too) which definitely floats my boat!
I first thought about doing my own chicken stock when reading my Marion Grasby cookbook but it wasn’t until I got Save with Jamie that I started cutting up my own chickens and seeing the wastage of the carcass (uurrgghhh I hate that word). So Jamie has the best guide about how to do this, and would heavily recommend the cookbook but here are my very brief tips on how to cut up your own chicken and get in touch with your food.
1. First you want to get your bird breast side up, on a chicken board with a very sharp knife.
2. Grab your bird’s legs and use the tip of your knife to cut open the skin to allow you to pull the leg away. Actually break the joint of the leg until the leg joint pops out (yup it feels as brutal as it sounds) and then put your knife as close between the two bones and chop down. Repeat on the other side.
3. Grab a wing and do the same kind of movement but the joint wont actually pop out. Put your knife where you think the middle of the joint is and have a go. If it is really too hard to cut then try with your knife a little higher into the bird. Repeat on the other side.
4. You are now left with a bit of a funny looking bird with just big ol’ breasts facing up at you. Most times I will take the skin off, which makes finding the place to cut much easier. Theres a bit of bone and cartilage that splits the breasts and you want to slice as close to that on one side from tail to tip (for want of better words). Then start using your knife to kind of shave down as close to the bones as possible to get the fat part of the breast off. Once the fat part is clear, turn your knife and work away from you to shave off the end. When you get to the tail end stick the tip of your knife in and cut away from you to kid of flick it off (trust me it will make sense after practice). Do the same with the other side and expect it to feel a bit awkward (be careful of slipping and losing fingers).
5. Then you are left with the bones (ahem carcass). I usually have a fair bit of wastage in terms of meat I didn’t cut off properly. I’m not too concerned because I’m using this to make stock and will sometimes lift out the bird once the stock has been going for about an hour and pull off any good meat to use in soup.
6. If you want you can cut the legs into thighs and drumsticks. Just cut between the joints. These portions are just perfect for my HFC so hit it up!
7. Bag up your bird and wash your hands, board and knife thoroughly. No-one wants chicken poisoning, trust me I’ve seen my sister have it!!
As with everything, it takes a bit of practice to get it right. I find that the more I do it, the cleaner my portions are and I’m quicker at it. I can cut up a chicken in the time it takes the oil for my stock to warm up now.
So have a go, I’m going to go out on a limb and sound like a complete loony but it can actually be quite fun!
Stay tuned for my homemade chicken stock recipe which I use my chicken bones in.
The Dietitian Mummy