I don’t often post cooking tips on this blog, but I think this is probably the smartest thing I’ve started doing in the kitchen both taste-wise and economically. Instead of buying pre-cut pieces of chicken:breasts, legs, whatever, I’ve been buy whole organic chickens and butchering them myself. When I’ve cut all the chicken I need from the bones, I then make my own chicken stock from the carcass.
Too time consuming and Martha Stewart-ish you say? I thought so too until we had our cooking course at La Benjamine last December. Once you know what you’re doing, you can get the whole thing done in about twenty minutes (except for simmering the stock). There are loads of resources on the web for how to do this properly so I’ll leave the description to the experts. Here’s what I do:
- First I take my chicken and remove the thighs and put them in a freezer bag so we can have them later.
- The next step is to cut off the breasts which I also freeze separately.
- Then I cut off the wings and put those in a freezer bag. I save these and keep adding wings to the bag as I carve up chickens so we can have a big hot wing feast.
- Then I cut any extra skin and fat from the carcass and cut it in half. I brown it in a pot with some olive oil. Now for the really Martha-esq (but very economical part)… I use a lot of soup stock when I cook. I make a lot of sauces, soups and risottos that require it. I detest those little salt laden stock cubes so I use to buy jars of soup stock at the grocery store. They were pretty expensive. Now, instead, I make my own.
- Whenever I cut up or peal veggies, like carrots, leeks, parsnip etc, I make sure I clean the peelings really well first. Then I toss them in a ziplock and throw them in the freezer. If I have some celery or leeks that are starting to wilt (but have not spoiled yet) I also throw these in the ziplock.
- When I’m ready to make stock, all I have to do is toss some of the frozen veg in the pot with the browned chicken carcass and fill the pot with water. I add some salt, pepper and any spices I want and leave it to simmer for 3-5 hours. When it’s done, I just strain out all the solids and throw them away. (I also pick any leftover chicken bits from the carcass and use it in soup or pasta).
- Then I can store the stock in the fridge for about a week or freeze it and use it when I need it. It’s so easy I don’t know why I was so intimidated to do it before.
The best part is I normally paid around 5€ for a couple of chicken breasts or thighs. I Paid around 3€ for 400ml of stock. Now I’m spending around 10-12€ for a whole chicken and getting: 2 thighs, 2 wings, 2 breasts and about 1.5L of stock. Take that, crappy economy.