I lived for three years on a vegetarian diet before slowly moving back into eating meat. I now consider myself a “grateful carnivore”. What does that mean? Well, I don’t eat meat every day. I don’t believe in a meat-heavy diet. Then, when I do eat meat, I try to use every part of the animal. Grateful as I am to have the meat and recognizing the sacrifice made by the animal, I utilize every part of the animal I possibly can.
This way of cooking not only promotes a better appreciation for our food and the animals but it is also economical, which in these hard financial times is a virtue. When I go to the butcher I tend to go for the cheaper cuts of meat. I cannot bring myself to pay $12.00+ for a small package of boneless chicken breasts. Instead I buy whole chickens, which in my neck of the woods currently sell for the rock-bottom price of .99 per pound. Usually I cook the bird whole and prepare different meals with the meat over the week. Most people are squeamish when it comes to cutting up a whole bird for parts but it really isn’t all that hard and is definitely a money-saving skill.
After I have cooked a whole bird I save the bones in the freezer in a ziplock bag. Once I get one or two of them I make stock. (The bones will keep up to 3 months in the freezer.) I then pour the stock into plastic containers and freeze it. I melt it down as needed for gravy, stew and soup. Taking into account the soups, stews and then the meat, I can get upwards of 12 meals/servings out of a single 6lb chicken. That comes to around .50 per portion of chicken for each serving/meal…pretty amazing.
Below is the recipe for our house stock as well as a quick soup recipe I cook when fighting a winter cold. Enjoy!
Yield: Roughly 5 Quarts
- Carcasses of 2 Small Chickens
- tablespoon of salt
- 3 whole peppercorns
- ¾ teaspoon of dry oregano or you can use fresh.
- 1 Whole Onion (with skin on)
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 carrot
Directions: Place all the above ingredients in a 2 gallon stock pot. Fill pot with cold water. Place on medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Scrape off any foam that floats to the top (since we are using bones that have been cooked as opposed to raw chicken, there shouldn’t be a great deal of foam.) Let simmer on low for 4-6 hours. Refill with cold water as needed to ensure all ingredients remain covered. Ladle stock through a strainer to remove any bones, peppercorns etc from the stock. Place in plastic containers, cool for 20 mins and then freeze or use the stock immediately.
Tip: Take all your onion peels, pepper tops, celery tops, carrot peels, garlic peels, leek cut offs and herb stems, put them in a plastic bag and freeze them. Then, when time comes to make your stock, take a few handfuls of veg from the bag and throw it in your stock pot. This will save you from having to use whole vegetables in your stock, only to throw them out at the end.
Quick Chicken Soup
- 2 quarts of House Stock
- pasta of your choice
- pinch of pepper and salt
- herbs of your choice (I use oregano and thyme).
Directions: Melt down 2 quarts of House stock (or use two quarts of fresh stock) in a pan. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, add your pasta. Note: I use angel hair pasta broken into small bits (roughly 1″ sections”). I use roughly ½ cup of broken up angel hair. If you use a thick pasta such as shells, the pasta will soak up your stock and you will end up with flavorful noodles but no soup. (I speak from experience.) Drop pasta into stock. Cook until tender. Serve. I add a bit of chopped parsley on top.