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Is a whole chicken greater than the sum of its parts?

August 6, 2011

Some of you have asked how we store our chickens- do we leave them whole or cut them up before putting them in the freezer? Here are a few considerations:

How do you usually prepare your chicken?

Are you the Casserole King, or do you like to grill whole pieces? If it’s cold outside I like to roast a whole chicken at a low temperature for 5 hours (see the recipe section), but I don’t really want to heat up the house with that recipe these days!

How much space do you have in the freezer?

Keep in mind that a cut up chicken is much more compact than a whole bird.

How many meals (and for how many people) do you need to make this chicken stretch?

In our current economy, there isn’t a lot of extra room in the grocery budget. We are committed to eating whole foods that are as unprocessed as possible, but sometimes that means we eat less.  Here is a great article on how to make one chicken stretch to make six meals. I need a little more protein than her meals offer, but it will give you some good ideas. Chicken broth, when made correctly, is extremely high in nutrients and proteins (but I will save that for another post).

I ordered four chickens from our last batch, so I roasted one whole the day of processing (it’s sort of a celebratory thing) using Martha Stewart’s Lemon Chicken recipe. It was really good, and made for some fabulous chicken salad and wraps later in the week. I cut up the other three chickens and divided them as follows:

2 bags of 3 legs and 2 thighs each…we have three kids and two adults so this works for us. If I decide not to grill or bake this, I can always throw it in a pot and use it cut up in a recipe.

3 bags of 2 breasts each…I can use this to cut into strips and bread or saute or add it to a soup or casserole.

1 bag with all the wings and 2 thighs…for date night. What can I say? He loves wings, and I don’t, so I cook both the thighs and we have something for lunch the next day, too.

3 bags with the carcasses (trying to think of a more pleasant word) for soup broth. I also keep a bag of veggie scraps in the freezer: onion ends, carrot tops, zucchini ends, etc. to throw in the broth for extra flavor. My dad always did this, and it doesn’t take much time but ends up being a great addition.

Hope this helps if you are new to the world of bulk meat purchases, and feel free to share any ideas you have on storing your chicken!

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