The Simple Chicken tips

You may ask “really a post about chicken”?. Yes because you never know who is reading this and maybe I can provide them a tip!

So Mr.Tasteful is paid monthly and it has made it a challenge for me to budget cost for our food budget. Now that 3 months or so have gone by I am seeing a pattern. I notice that once a month the grocery stores will have deals on chicken be it whole, legs and thighs. Now what I consider bargains is when the chicken is priced between $.79lb to $.99lb. I then stock up on the chicken. I buy one whole chicken for each week of the month plus two extra. At an avg of $3.50 per chicken, 6 chickens cost $21.00!!! For my family we are not big eaters, even if we were I would still try to stretch the chicken into 2 separate meals. I would make sure we ate more side dishes like rice, potatoes or bread to be filling. As long as we each have at least 3 oz of chicken that’s all you really need per serving. Technically you take one chicken breast and cut in half and that’s a proper serving per person for a healthy diet.

Now typically I will always roast the whole chicken in the oven simply with olive oil, salt and pepper. If I have available, take one cut lemon and half of a onion and put in the cavity of the chicken. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 min then turn temp down to 350 and bake for another 40 mins (depending on size) or until I can move chicken thing back and forth with ease and then stick knife into the thick part of the chicken breast and see if juice runs clear.

My favorite thing to do before I roast a chicken is a brine. You can make it complicated and add spices however if u are just looking to keep chicken breast moist a simple water and salt brine is perfect. Place chicken in a glass or non aluminum bowl and put 2 tablespoons of kosher salt let dissolve in a couple tablespoons of warm water. Then fill bowl with cold water until chicken is covered. Let this brine for at least 2 hrs no more then 8 hrs. I have done overnight and I found it was very water logged…it didn’t ruin the chicken just the skin had a harder time getting crispy and the flavor of the chicken seemed not very strong for a small 3.5lb chicken.

So after we eat our first meal of roasted chicken I will usually remove the parts of meat we did not eat. I always eat the dark meat of the chicken and Mr.Tasteful eats the white meat. We always have leftover at least one chicken breast, one thigh and one leg. I take the chicken carcase and wings and place in a zip lock freezer bag for a later use the Chicken Stock. Now if you bought a Rotisserie Chicken from the store you can do this to, you don’t have to roast the chicken. This is just leftover chicken parts (not the meat).

If you want a stronger chicken stock, cut up the whole chicken before you cook it and remove the breasts, thighs and drum sticks for roasting. Take the wings and everything else left and use that for the chicken stock.

The average cost for a can of Chicken stock is $1.25 (I only buy with no MSG). I prefer to buy organic chicken stock in the large container where you get about 4 cups of stock. This cost about $3.00 per container. I refuse to buy store bought stock not on sale. So far the cheapest I can buy organic stock at is $1.99 each. If I am making chicken soup I usually use two containers and that is at least $4.00 just for stock. Now its great to have on hand as a quick thing….but if you can, make your own, its not hard and less expensive with superior taste.

If using leftover chicken carcase from a previous roasted chicken, it only takes 45 mins to make the stock. When you use fresh uncooked chicken carcase and parts I like to give it two hours. How much will this cost you? About $1, if that!

The stock is simple add 1 onion cut in half, 3 whole garlic cloves, 2 carrots cut in quarters, 2 celery cut in quarters (or use up all of those celery leafs), 1/2 teaspoon of dry or fresh herbs like thyme and pinch of dried Rosemary. Add about 1 tbsp of kosher salt and 7 to 8 cups of water if using fresh chicken parts. If using leftover chicken use 5 cups of water. Usually the water amount depends on how much chicken and veggies you have (So if you only have a little use less water. If you use to much water your stock will not be very flavorful. You can always add a little water later if the flavor is to strong. Add a 1/2 cup at a time after u have cooked stock for allotted time. But personally I would only do this when you go to cook soup with it). Once it has finished simmering on a med to low heat, drain everything out and throw it away, only saving the liquid. I let it cool a bit then place in fridge. Once it has cooled completely (2hrs or more) I remove all the fat that has gathered to the top (it will be like a crust).  Then take 3 or 4 cups and place in a freezer bag and keep in freezer for up to 2 months.

Chicken tips:

  1.  There is also an option if you buy your chicken with skin on (less expensive then skinless) and you want the meat to be skinless, remove the skin yourself and use the skin for the stock. 
  2. Also after you eat your chicken like the thigh and drumsticks instead of throwing away the bones, you could use in stock. I know that may sound gross to some of you, I have not needed to go to that step, however to get more out of your chicken when you only have so much money it is a great way to stretch the dollar. Maybe just do a quick rinse of the bone and of course don’t use anything eaten by someone who was sick. 
  3. If you roast the chicken in the oven and you have all those juices in the pan, don’t throw that away. Save it! Use it instead of butter or olive oil when roasting vegetables or making your chicken soup. It only last a couple days in the fridge. However you could freeze it in an ice cube tray and then place in a freezer bag for up to 2 months.
  4. Don’t throw away the fat after you cool the chicken stock in fridge. Use that just like I pointed out in tip 3.
  5. You could also  take a whole chicken and make a very concentrated chicken stock, however this will cost more money. My tip is based on using one whole chicken for two meals and making stock with leftover unwanted parts, all costing you $4.00.
  6. Great time to use up all those limp carrots, celery and onions. Even if you don’t have chicken parts use that chicken fat and make a vegetable stock base but add the chicken fat for added flavor.

Tip about herbs: I always have dried herbs. A great tip about dried herbs is buy it by weight in the bulk food. I am able to get 2 oz of dried thyme for $.10 where the same amount in the seasoning section would cost $3.00. So I highly recommend finding a store that offers bulk foods/herbs.

I used a cut up whole chicken, took skin off because I wanted skinless chicken for my particular meal. Then used the carcase and wings plus the skin for my stock. I baked the breast, thighs and drumsticks. We had one whole chicken breast, thigh and a drumstick leftover. I used half of the saved breast for a salad. Now I will be using the rest of the chicken meat for a chicken shepherds pie. So I was able to stretch one whole chicken into three meals and make 8 cups of stock. Wow that is pretty good for $4.00

When I make chicken soup it is very simple! Even if I only have a half a cup of chicken meat, you can still  get 4 to 6 servings (think of how much chicken is in a can of Campbells Chicken soup, 8 pcs?) of coup.

Chicken soup
1/2 cup of chicken meat (more or less whatever you have available)
1 carrot diced small
1 celery diced small
1 or 2 garlic cloves diced
1/2 of a small onion diced small (1/4 cut of onion)
4 cups of chicken stock
1 dried bay leaf (optional)
Salt and pepper for tasting
1 teaspoon of chicken fat or olive oil
1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme
Pinch of dried  Rosemary (3 dried sprigs)
1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice (optional)

In a stock pot add either 1 teaspoon of reserved chicken fat or olive oil let melt on a low to medium heat. Add carrots, onion, celery and dried herbs and a pinch of salt. Let cook for 5 min or until onions are translucent. Add chicken and garlic (if using lemon add too), let cook for one or two min so that garlic can render some juices. Then add chicken stock. Let simmer until carrots are tender (15-20 mins). That is it! If I have left over pasta noodles or rice I like to add to each individual bowl for serving. I find pasta and rice gets to soggy if I cook with the soup or store any leftovers. My preference is to cook rice or pasta separately and store separately.

Chicken stock ready to simmer.

The baking journey begins

I have always been afraid to bake. I admit I am not one to follow recipes, I like to create and invent a recipe. Therefore knowing that baking requires accuracy (I am so not an accurate person) I always shied away from baking. Plus I like immediate result’s, patience is not a skill I have developed.

However being a new mom has required me to be a more patient person. Of course isn’t being patient a good quality for anyone to have? As I look back on my life I have lacked patience very much! I was always in a hurry to get to the next step. Even my fourth grade teacher told my mom, “she is always in a hurry to grow up”. Yep, that is me! Now I am all “grown up” and wish I was young again LOL So I guess I owe it to myself and everyone around me to be more patient. With this new found awareness of my lack of patience I decided to apply this to baking. Yes, yes my mind is wired to think how a moral quality applies to baking/cooking.

So my journey of baking begins because of the desire to have more patience.