Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Week of Chicken

When we moved to South Dakota, I had a whole new place to learn about and find good food resources.  I was floundering, wondering where I would find raw milk and pastured meats, when my friend Jean suggested that I look up the Weston A. Price Foundation and see if there was a local chapter in my town. This turned out to be a great suggestion.  Thru my local chapter I was able to find a wealth of resources, from a local family that sells pastured raw milk, butter and eggs to beef and chicken from other farmers and ranchers in the area.  The Plate River Hutterite Colony sells chickens in our town about every six weeks.  I buy a case of sixteen chickens every four months for an affordable $6/chicken.  That gives me a chicken once a week.  Surprisingly, I've figured out how to make quite a few meals out of this six dollar chicken.

I stick to a basic roast chicken recipe, but cook it for longer than the norm.  After seasoning it with some herbs (most often thyme), salt, and pepper, on the skin, under the skin and in the cavity, I tie up the legs and put it in my roasting pan breast side up and add about one cup of water to the pan. I roast it for one hour at 350 degrees, then pull it out, add whatever vegetables I want to the pan, flip the chicken and roast it for another hour at 400 degrees. The result is a very moist chicken with some yummy side veg. The whole flipping/second hour business I learned from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions cookbook. The biggest reason I like that is it then is super easy to carve off the legs from the back, which we have for our first meal.

Left over is the breast meat and wings and all the rest of the meat. I pick the bones clean and then store this for the next few meals. Now, I make chicken broth for a few soups during the week. All the bones and skin from the chicken go into the crock pot, along with the juice from the pan.  
Here is the nice trick I've learned. Instead of chopping up veggies that I'd use to eat for the broth, I add vegetable scraps that I've saved throughout the week. I leave a bag in the freezer and whenever I peel carrots or cut up onions, celery, leeks, etc., I throw the peels, tips and scraps into the bag. This leaves me with veggies that are ready to throw into the crock pot at anytime.
I leave the chicken and veggies simmering for 24 hours. Then I strain the bones and veggies from it, which I put into the compost. Many people say not to put meat into the compost, but these bones are pretty clean and also very soft at this point. I think it is best to allow this to turn back into soil, rather than toxic waste in a landfill. I then cool the broth and skim the fat off the top. Now it is ready to freeze in ice cube trays for later use and/or soup for the next meal. 

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