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Updated: Jan 11

Do you know how to utilize a Whole Chicken in your kitchen?


I know I didn’t at first!


When me and my family started on our growing journey. We were new to everything just like you. Our goal was to begin to eat more healthy and whole foods. And there is nothing more whole than a whole chicken. It is easy to fall into the trap of just cooking chicken breasts in all your family meals because they are your favorite and why not the grocery store provide them cut up and prepared for you, right?



But here is the problem with this mentality, well several problems really. One, eating just chicken breasts in your meal limits you to only one part of the chicken. And when you are looking to grow your own meat chickens one day, you are going to have to deal with the rest of the bird, legs, wings, back, and more. Second, the chicken breast is the most expensive part of the whole bird, because just like you everyone loves it. There are still only two breasts per chicken. So the industry has to make most of its profit on just the chicken breasts. Third, the chicken breast does not hold as much nutritional value as other parts of a chicken. Who knew, right?


Point two and three have their merit but let's talk about problem one a little more. When we made it our goal here on the farm to increase the production of protein we found that raising meat chickens was going to be the easiest and had the smallest learning curve. We have raised layer chickens for years and raising meat chicken would only need a few skills learned before we could jump on the wagon.

  1. Learn to move birds around our property to give them the best food and sanitation possible

  2. Learn more about higher protein feeds and what is best to feed them

  3. Learn to utilize a whole chicken in my kitchen- yes, they are not made up of just chicken breasts

If we were going to be successful in this venture then we needed to give eating and cooking a whole chicken a try before we purchased our first chicks. Raising animals is different from raising vegetables. This is a breathing and moving beast that must give up their lives to give you your best life. And that gift can not be wasted and taken for granted. Sorry, I told you that I don’t sugar coat things to make them easier to bear. It is best to say what needs to be said and wasting protein is not good form. But sadly in the commercial industry it is, because the consumer gets fixated on the easy and does not take the whole life of their protein into account. How they grow and spend their lives should be just as important as the price on the label. Okay, let's move on.


What this boils down to is that when you learn to utilize a whole chicken, you can save money, eat more nutritious meals, and make sure that the life of that chicken is given its due.

And if you want help, then you are in the right place.



Cooking a Whole Chicken


When I first decided to grow our own meat chicken, one hurdle that I never knew I would need to jump over was the chance of learning to cook with a whole chicken. In that first year to eat one whole chicken a month was a triumph. Because this was the only recipe I had that used a whole chicken. But this recipe is the best recipe to learn when starting your own venture of using a whole chicken in your menu. Why? Because it is so versatile. You can use different seasonings to give you a whole new taste. Also the leftovers can be turned into many other meals.


This recipe for roast chicken will deliver a meal the whole family will love. I have found the secret to the perfect crispy skin and juicy meat. Serves 5 with possibility for leftovers to make this a great weekend meal into multiple quick weeknight meals.


How to Roast A Chicken


1 5# thawed whole chicken

1 stick of butter, softened

1 tsp parsley

½ tsp sage

½ tsp rosemary

3 whole carrots with tops trimmed off

2 stalks of celery

1 lemon


Preheat your oven to 375


Remove the whole chicken from its wrapping and rinse. Be sure to remove the neck and giblets pouch if you purchased your chicken from the grocery store and wash out the cavity of chicken. Place your whole chicken in a roasting pan or aluminum lined baking dish breast up. And pat the skin dry with a paper towel.


Mix the butter and herbs together to make a butter rub. Gently push your finger tips under the skin making a cavity. You want to release the skin from the top of the breast all the way to the legs. Now apply half of the butter mixture in this cavity you have created under the skin. Now take half of what's left of the butter mixture and rub it all over the outside of the chicken.


Once done, flip your chicken so that it is breast down in your roasting pan.




Next you need to prepare the base that you will be applying to your chicken as it cooks. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the remaining butter mixture and set aside. Now place the carrots, celery, and cut up lemon into the cavity of the chicken.


Place the roasting pan with the chicken into the oven and bake for about 45 minutes. At that 45 minute mark you want to melt your butter mix with lemon so you have a liquid to baste the chicken with. Remove the chicken and pan from the oven and with tongs and a large fork, flip the chicken so it is now breast up in the roasting pan. Brush the baste over chicken and put the pan and chicken back in the oven for about 45 minutes or until the center of the breast reads 165 degrees with a meat thermometer. During this last 45 minutes baste the chicken about every 15 minutes.


Allow the chicken to rest for at least 15 minute before you cut the chicken apart. This will give it time to cool and allow the juices to remain in the meat. The purpose of the flip is to cut cooking time as well as not dry out the breast while you wait for the legs and back to cook.


Chicken Noodle Soup


I love the versatility when it comes to using a part of your whole chicken when making Chicken Noodle Soup. I personally make it two different ways. The first being, when I use leftover chicken after I cook my Herb Roasted Chicken recipe. And the second, is when I use the leftover chicken carcass from when I piece our home grown chickens. To help us utilize the whole chickens that we raise I found that if we take half of them and piece them so that I have breasts, legs, thighs, and wings grouped like they do in a grocery store more and more recipes open up for me. But more about that later. After piecing I am left with the ribs, back, and neck. And these are great for making Chicken Noodle Soup. Below you will find the recipes for using my leftover chicken! And the other can be found in my Chicken Broth Recipe.


Leftover Chicken Noodle Soup


It is always nice to sit down at the table on a cold winter evening and enjoy a warm bowl of Old Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup. And now you can too. This recipe serves 8.


8 cups of Chicken Broth

Leftover Chicken and Carcass from a roasted Chicken

3 large carrots, peeled and sliced

4 celery stalks, sliced

1 small onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 bay leaves

2 tsp olive oil

½ tsp thyme

½ tsp oregano

Salt and Pepper to Taste

12 ounces of Old Fashioned Egg Noodles or One Recipe of My Homemade Egg Noodles(Below)


To a large stock pot, add the olive oil and heat over medium heat. Once oil is hot add the carrots, celery and onion. Saute for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables start to soften. Add the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes.



Add broth, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, and pepper to the pot and bring to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add your egg noodles and boil for 10 minutes.


Meanwhile, pull all of the leftover meat off of the bones and set aside. Once noodles are done, add chicken meat to the pot. And add salt to taste.


It is now ready to eat, Enjoy!


I was a buyer of Old Fashioned Egg Noodles for years and wasn’t until one faithful day that I was in the middle of making my Leftover Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe and realized I was out, that I tried to make them for myself. And what I found was how easy they were and the fresh taste made that batch of soup one of the best I have ever made. This recipe is just so simple that I know today is the day you are going to make your chicken noodle soup amazing.



Using Other Parts


To continue our journey on using a whole chicken, I love this recipe because you can use many different parts of the chicken or leftovers. When you piece a whole chicken you get two legs, two thighs, two wings, two breasts, and then the back and carcass. When it comes to using the whole chicken you may need to adjust recipes that you find that call for chicken breasts and substitute another cut of the chicken.

In this recipe I like to use the legs and thighs together. I love all the vegetables, my kids don’t, but I do! Also, remember if you are making this out of your pantry you can use frozen veggies from your garden too. Serves 5


Chicken Stir Fry


1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Two chicken leg and thighs deboned or two chicken breasts

1 cup thinly slice carrots

1 cup broccoli

1 cup snow peas

4 cloves garlic, diced

¼ cup flour

¼ cup chicken broth

¼ cup soy sauce

3 tsp honey

3 tsp Oyster Sauce


In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. If you are using fresh veggies, place them in the pan and cook for about 4 minutes or until tender and remove from the pan. If using frozen veggies, place your chicken in the pan first and cook for 4 minutes or until browned and cooked through.


Add the garlic pan and cook for 30 seconds. Add the vegetables back to the pan or if you are using frozen veggies this is the time to add them to the pan. Cook for another 3 minutes to warm the veggies. In the meantime, mix the broth, honey, soy sauce, and oyster sauce in a medium-sized bowl.


Add the flour to the pan and stir into chicken and veggies, cook for 1 minute to remove the flour flavor. Pour bowl mixture over chicken and veggies in your skillet and let simmer for about 5 minutes or until the sauce has just started to thicken.


Remove from heat and serve over rice or Fried Rice!




Using Leftovers


Another recipe that can help use leftover chicken from the Roast Chicken recipe or use up the pieces. My son told me, “Your best Chicken n’ Biscuits dinner is when I use thigh meat. I don’t know why but it just tastes better.” So here you go straight from my greatest critiques. This recipe was one I developed when I was learning to use the forgotten part of a whole chicken, the thighs and legs. As a family before we started growing our chicken we purchased and used mostly chicken breast. So as a result I spent about 6 months honing our pallet and my cooking skills to include more of the whole chicken. Because I did not want us to raise our chicken and then not use them.


Chicken n’ Biscuit is a spin on chicken pot pie. The filling is a creamy chicken gravy and veggies topped with biscuits instead of a pie crust. I did this to make this recipe an easier weeknight meal. Servers 8. But my boys love it so much so for us it only serves 5.


Chicken n’ Biscuits


Drop Biscuits

3 cups flour

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

½ cup butter

1 cup milk or enough to make the dough droppable


Filling

½ cup butter

⅓ cup diced onion

2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

1 celery stalk, sliced

1 cup peas

1 clove garlic, minced

⅓ cup flour

1 tsp parsley

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

4 cups Chicken Broth

½ cup heavy cream or sour cream

3 cups leftover chicken or 2 thighs and 2 legs deboned


For the Biscuits

I cut my butter in a food processor, I'm going to give you those instructions today. In a large food processor of at least 6 cup size, add all of your dry ingredients to the food processor bowl and buzz slightly to mix. Cut the butter into slices. Turn your food processor on and add the slice of butter through the top and mix until the butter has been cut into the flour mixture. Remove mixture from processors, and move to a large bowl. Add the milk until the dough is wet and is a firm dough that can stick to your spoon. Set aside!


For the Filling


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.



Heat the butter in a large pot on medium heat for about 2 minutes or until the butter has melted. Add and cook the onions, carrots, garlic, and celery for about 5 minutes or until they are tender. Add the uncooked chicken. If you are using leftover chicken, wait until you add the peas. Cook the chicken until it is browned and cooked through. Add the flour to the pot, stir in, and cook for about 30 seconds to remove the flour taste. Add the rest of the ingredients, broth, parsley, salt, pepper, cream, and leftover chicken if you are using it. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the broth starts to thicken.


Remove the filling from the heat and pour into a 9 by 16 casserole or baking dish. Then spoon the biscuit batter on top of the filling, in biscuit size portions. Place the baking dish into the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown and when tapped make a hollow sound. Remove from the oven and cool for about 10 minutes before you serve. This allows the filling to stop boiling. Enjoy!


Broth Is So Versatile


When learning to piece and use the whole chicken in your kitchen this recipe came in handy for using up the bits we don’t like to eat or can’t use in any other way. Chicken broth is so versatile. I think I use it on my menu every week. And to top it all off it is so nutritious!


Chicken Broth


Leftover chicken carcass and other bits

3 to 4 carrots, peeled and cut in half

2 celery stalks with leaves, cut in half

2 onions, peeled and quartered

3 cloves of garlic, smashed

2 bay leaves

Salt and pepper to taste


Place your chicken pieces in a large stockpot, this does not include the giblets. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot with the chicken.


Put enough water into the pot to cover the chicken, approximately 12 cups. Place a lid on the pot and place it over medium heat on your stove. Bring water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 to 2 hours or until all the chicken bits are cooked through.



Remove from heat and let cool. Once cool, use a strainer to strain all of the vegetables and chicken bits out of the stock. Stock can now be placed in your fridge for up to a week or frozen for up to 5 months or pressure canned for up to a year.


Recap


You have got this!


You are now ready to utilize that whole chicken and get cooking!


Now if you want help making a plan for your harvest and beyond then you need to grab the Planning Beyond the Harvest Handbook.


Have a blessed day,


Crystal


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