One Chicken, Many Meals....Mimis' way

Posted February 4th, 2014 by Mimi

Here's my Chicken Chasseur....recipe further down.

I've seen those hints for Rubber Chicken and this dish is part of my version. You know the ones where you roast the chicken, eat small portions with lots of veg, shred some into a pie, use a bit for sandwiches and throw the rest into a pot for soup?

They're brilliant for couples, but I always found them unrealistic for a family, unless you padded them out with beans and such like things.

The best I've managed, is to stretch one chicken to five meals for three people, adding in a really interesting and delicious garnish for a salad, and I'm pretty proud of that. One of those three is my husband who is a bigger eater than my daughter and I, so depending upon the family involved, this could be adapted for up to four people. Even then, two chickens for the same number of meals for 6-8 people is excellent value.

I find it odd actually, that in recent times, we've all decided that buying chicken in pre-prepared bits is okay. We buy skinless, boneless breast and skinned and deboned thigh meat at overinflated prices, and shun the less expensive wings and drumsticks or Maryland (leg and thigh) unless they're specified in a recipe or swimming in unidentifiable marinade with lots of numbered ingredients in them. The thing is, we're just paying someone else to cut up our meat and add some spices, and wasting some stuff that's perfectly edible and that adds substance and flavour to many dishes. Crazy.

I buy whole fresh chickens, and cut them up and marinate them myself. This is so much cheaper and saves heaps of money, and reminds the family that a chicken comes as a whole bird, not as breast fillets, thigh fillets and marinated wings. I use the flavoursome bones in most dishes, where I can, so that we remember that those things add to the body of the meal, and allow us to use fewer seasonings, and drastically reduce our need to use salt. It's also a reminder that we are so wasteful as a society and takes me back to when, as a child growing up on a farm, all parts of the animal were utilised in some way.

So here's what I do:

I use good strong kitchen scissors and a big heavy, sharpened knife for this process.

I cut the chicken down the middle of it's back and flatten it out. For some reason, I find it less intimidating to joint it that way.

I cut and peel away all of the skin, using my fingers to loosen the skin from the flesh by easing my fingers under the skin and lifting it away, leaving the skin on the wings only, and set it aside. I'm going to use that too.

I remove the wings.

Then I cut the chicken in half at the middle of the breast.

I remove the breasts with bone, at the leg joint. This can be a bit fiddly, and requires jiggling the chicken around to find the leg joint, but it's not hard with a good sharp knife.

I cut the drumstick sections from the thigh sections.

Then I separate the thighs from the back section.

Now I have the back, two wings, two skinless thighs on the bone, two skinless breasts on the bone, two drumsticks, and the skin, all separate.

I'll poach the breasts with the bone (they come off the bone easily that way), and the back, and store them in their cooking liquid. I'll shred one whole breast plus half the second one, leaving the tenderloins for another day. I'll use that shredded or sliced breast meat for a really lovely salad meal of some sort with lots of greens, and use the final half a breast plus the tenderloin bits that sort of hang off the breast, as filling for rice paper rolls or crepes another time. So that's two meals.

I'm going to use the meat from the back and the poaching liquid, to make Chicken Risotto for dinner one night. We don't mind if there's not much meat in it that night. I'd usually add some peas and rocket or baby spinach and sun dried tomato for extra colour and flavour. That's a third meal.

The wings will be marinated and roasted, and the meat and skin removed to make Sushi for lunch another day. The meat and sauce is so flavoursome and you need very little to make sushi.

The thighs and drumsticks will go in to my Chicken Chasseur for dinner another night. I'll slow cook that so that the meat falls from the bone all by itself (no need for 'fillets'). The meat always looks quite plentiful, and with the other ingredients it's a really appetising peasant style meal that we like to serve with mounds of mash and crisp greens. That's number five.

Finally the skin (yes, the skin....stay with me) is pan fried over a medium heat for about twenty minutes until the fat has rendered down and the skin has gone crisp. You can then cool this and cut it into slivers, much like pork crackling. This makes the most amazing crispy garnish for salads. Note, it's a garnish, and not something I'm advocating as a meal in itself, although I did see a recipe a while back for chicken skin tacos(!!!). If it's okay to eat pork crackling, then it's okay to eat chicken skin. The key is moderation, as with all things. And I'm going to be cheeky and call that number six, even though it's only part of the meal.

So that's how I do it. I love that nothing is wasted and all available parts of the bird are used. It's a good strategy to adopt.

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