Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Whole Birds

The weather cooled off a bit (quite a bit, boo hoo) and so I put a couple of chickens in the oven to roast, Mark has been devouring the chicken salad I've been making so there is no use only cooking one chicken!

Whole Foods prices chicken $1 a pound less if you buy two at a time.  $2.99 instead of $3.99, which turn a $16 bird into a more affordable $12 bird....still 2-3x more than good ole Foster Farms when you can find it on sale (and you can always find it on sale!).  I prefer to always buy whole birds, in fact I can barely bring myself to buy pieces, and never boneless!  The thought of wasting some of the best parts of the chicken practically kills me!  I want those bones, among other parts too!

When I first started cooking I forced myself bone my own whole chickens.  Like cutting an onion, knowing how to bone a chicken is such an important skill to learn in order to cook for yourself and family.  The know where to cut and the actual practice of doing of it. Don't let yourself be intimidated by it if you don't know how. You'll never know how if you never try!  When you can take apart a chicken, you can transition into other meats much easier, and that can automatically makes shopping easier (not being a slave to the availability of boneless cuts) and saves you money.

It saves you money in many ways.  You pay less per pound, and you get lots of other goodies, not just the meat.  The most obvious "goodie" are the bones, the back and necks to make chicken stock/broth.  I've been making my own chicken stock for so many years, it's easy and effortless, except for the last part, straining!  That requires lifting a heavy pot, and the mess of cleaning up the scraps and strainer.  If you were to buy necks backs and bones, yes it would be less expensive than $2.99 a pound, but add in the cost of store bought stock and I think you would find it costing more in the long run, way more. Every time I make stock I yield at least 4 quarts, and it's made from the quality of chicken, and meats, that I choose.  Not to mention the nutritional value of homemade stocks and broths.  You just can't buy that kind of nutrition (for cheap at least!).

Another way you save is the livers! Am I the only one that eats chicken liver regularly?  You are missing out, especially if, in all honesty, you have decided you don't like it without ever trying it!  Personally I make chicken liver pate, so it's flavored with onion, anchovy, garlic and butter (coconut oil), what's not to love?  More times than not I get two or more livers included with each bird!  But I also get shorted the hearts?  What's up with that?  Lately I cook the hearts with the liver ad I haven't found it making any kind of difference.  Liver costs about $3.99 pound, so I save money there too.

Breast only is the most expensive, easily twice the price of a whole bird.  Which is just pure laziness.  It takes two seconds to bone a breast, but I will not be judgey about it because there have been times when I just plain old don't feel like taking that 2 seconds myself!

But getting back to the bones.  Bones add so much more flavor when you cook the meat along with the bone.  And even if you cook the meat with the bone, once you eat the meat there is still plenty left in the bones for making stock!  And that stock will be richer than stock made from uncooked ("raw") bones and parts.  Think about it.  Grilled bones, roasted bones will have more those bones!

So there you have it!  The reasons why I always buy whole birds!  Mostly I cook them whole, rarely boning and dividing the parts.  What about you?

Picture left: the innards from the two chickens I bought.  Two necks, one heart, one gizzard, and looks like about 4 livers?  One time I bought a chicken that came with two necks!  It totally creeped me out because I was naive to think what came with the inside package was that particular birds actual neck and insides! It never occurred to me that they "swapped" body parts!  Really, it creeped me out for a long time.  Now I'm over it and I'm happy to get extra goodies! Give me more necks, give me more liver!  I'm good with that!  BUT I confess....what the heck do you do with the gizzards?

Picture above:  There are so many online sources to learn how to bone a chicken, here one that I found easily.


Hanneke said...

I agree with you on the bones. Bones = flavor.

I am interested in your liver paste or pate. Could you share a recipe or link? I am one of those people that used to be disgusted by it but I am trying to be a new woman and want to make something tasty with it.

For some reason chickens here don't come with anything. But I can all buy it separate so that's what I will do. If it comes with a gizzard I feed it to my dog.

Tracy Reifkind said...


If you do a blog search for pate you will find my recipe! Super easy and you don't need to do it in a PC.

For some reason around here the more expensive the bird, the less you get! I try and find the best quality with the stuff inside!

You must not be on facebook! Because I posted the question about the gizzards there and have had a ton of great gizzard love and some ideas that actually sound tasty! I'll try and post all of the suggestions later today and revise this post!

chrystad72 said...

Buying the whole chicken is definitely the way to go! I can buy a whole bird for the same price as a some chicken breasts so more bang for my buck. Plus strangely I find taking more time to prepare my food therapeutic. I absolutely love to cook and I find it calming.

I have to try your liver recipe! I tried livers once and just sauteed them up and tried eating them whole, which was kind of a fail. Im going to give it another go though.

Im interested in what you can do with the gizzards though too. I might have to experiment with that one.

Yogi Steve said...

does Pavel know you eat this much chicken? :)

Mark Reifkind said...

Yogi Steve,

it's a new thing. If Tracy didn't make it taste so good I wouldn't:)
it's too hard to resist. Regular chicken: blah. This :))))

Tracy Reifkind said...


At the risk of being a snob, I just can't wrap my head around the "boneless skinless" popularity. I mean I know where it came from and when it started and maybe why.

Sure, convenience. But it started during the low fat, no fat stage of dieting and it's still going strong. The other thing is that still there are a lot of people that can't cook anything and efficiently with little to no fat they've bought into thinking is healthier for them!

Boneless skinless chicken breast, steamed broccoli and cauliflower says a lot to me about someone ability to cook and prepare meals. Stuck in the 80's and just hasn't moved on...and probably doesn't care.

Tracy Reifkind said...

Yogi Steve,

To be honest, I have cooked and prepared more chicken in the last year alone that I have my entire life!

Reason #1, Mark doesn't like chicken! And with so many other options, we've been big beef, lamb and pork fans since I learned how to cook!

But I learned how to best roast the yummiest chicken ever, from my BFF Fawn Friday (former professional Chef and crazy strong power/olympic lifter, SFG ll). Seiously, even Pavel would suck the bones from my roasted chicken!

Besides, Pavel is a huge fan of liver pates and charcuterie, and at the very least I would be proud to serve him my liver spread...I mean, "pate"!

Spike said...

Just had to weigh in on the chicken offal.

My favorite way to fix chicken is with carmelized onions, kalamata olives, anchovies, garlic, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. Brown the chicken, remove, carmelize onions and garlic, add the anchovies, vinegar, and olives, then put the chicken back, cover and cook till it's done.

I like to pull the solids at this point and reduce the pan drippings, then pour the sauce over the food and serve.

Tried it with chicken hearts this week for lunch. YUM!! Yay for ethnic markets where I can buy offal such as liver, heart, and gizzard.

Gizzard is good pan-fried--dredge with flour, salt, and pepper, cook briefly over high heat with just a dab of oil. It's a tough, chewy bit of muscle.

Next week--pate, and salad on a stick.

Yogi Steve said...

Sounds great guys! I remember reading that Pavel does not like chicken so you must be doing something awesome with that bird! Thanks again guys :)

Tracy Reifkind said...


Your recipe sounds great and easy! I pretty much have all of those ingredients on hand (although I'd use red vinegar...not a fan of balsamic).

I used to buy a lot of meat at my ethnic markets until very, very recently, especially organ meat because of the quality. The quality of how the animals are fed/treated, etc. It never used to bother me, and still I don't trust higher end markets and companies much either, so...

As far as the hearts go. I posted a recipe here, that suggests to brine them for 1 day and pan fry them. They tasted fine, in fact really good, but I couldn't get past that they were heart. But I'll keep trying.

Everybody has got me curious about those darn gizzards now! Lots of gizzard love going around!

thanks for you comment!

mikeyr3500 said...

Another matter
When Tracy Reifkind's "Top 40" Kettlebell Swing Be released???
Enjoy all of blogs.
Hoping to Mark's extra Joint Mobility

Tracy Reifkind said...


"Top 40" is the first dvd to include a warm up / joint mobility lead by Mark, and an additional "on the minute" beginners workout lead by me, but it will also be included in every dvd from this point forward.

"Dirty Thirty" due out next week will have it, and the next two, "Give and Take #2", and the partner swing workout dvd will also include it.

In fact, I should offer just that as a dvd's pretty good!