February 2, 2010

Kitchen Tip Tuesday -- How to Cook a Chicken (or Turkey)

For years when we were first married I would buy the flash frozen bags of chicken breasts from the store.  I though it was the best option for me.  It wasn't too costly and I didn't have to touch raw, slimy chicken, right?  Well it is costly compared to buying a whole chicken on sale (or on clearance if you watch the meat section) .  I think also think flash frozen is a bit on the salty side.  I've grown to not mind the slimy-ness of preparing chicken in exchange for the better flavor and saving my family a little bit of money.  How long do those flash frozen chicken breasts sit at the store, anyway?  I digress...

Buy a chicken, no...buy two or three, especially if they're on sale!  Either put them in a large electric roaster or cook them in various crock pots.  If you're choosing to roast them it'll take about 4-5 hours.  I love my Rival RO188BR 18-Quart Roaster W Bonus.  I roasted two 14 pound turkeys in it the other day and I can easily roast 3 average size chickens.  If you choose to cook it in the crock pot you can put them in at night on low, shut it off in the morning and by lunch time it'll be cool enough to handle.  Take it apart, chop it up or shred it and package it up for the freezer.  To season them just sprinkle a little ground black pepper, some onion powder (unless you like real onion...the hubster doesn't), and I add a smidge of sage, thyme (or rosemary) and a sprinkle or two of lemon juice (I leave the lemons out if it's turkey I'm cooking).  I really dislike de-yucking (as we call it) the chicken.  I'm fortunate enough to have a mom who lives with us and doesn't mind that part.  Having her to help me do that is great!  If you have little helpers around they might enjoy it as well.  We have lots of little helpers but I find they eat more than they package if they are helping!  Simply take the large breast portions out and then work on the legs, thighs and back.  And if your birdies came with giblets or liver then you can cook that up, chop it and make gravy with the juices from the cooked bird(s).   

You'll get a lot of chicken (or turkey) out of that little cooking session.  The pair of 14 pound turkeys I roasted the other day yielded enough for dinner twice (approx. 3 pounds), sandwiches for lunch three times (approx. 2 pounds), meat for a double portion of Turkey & Rice Soup (I'll post the recipe soon!), and I have 6 more 2 pound bags of meat in the freezer ready to go.  Not too shabby!  Especially since Wallyworld had them on sale for 40 cents per pound back before the holidays!  

If you don't want to buy a whole bird you can go the boneless, skinless route.  If I find boneless, skinless (or tenderloins) on sale I'll put a bunch of them in the crock pot at night.  Add just enough water to cover and then the same seasonings above.  Cook them on low, turn them off in the morning and by lunch time you'll be ready to cut up and package the meat.  (You can wait until the kiddos are taking their afternoon nap.  Just shut it off an hour or so later or put your crock pot on a "keep warm" setting.)  The only drawback to the boneless skinless is there is no good quality stock (broth) left over for soups, etc.  Yes, you get water and some juice, but it's not the same.

I try to do this about once a month when meat is on sale.  Since it's not the most enjoyable part of my kitchen time it is nice to get it over with all at once!

Now go find some little birdies and cook away!  

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