Chicken: Your New Best Friend in the Kitchen

Are you the type of person who wants an easy, no-fuss meal that both tastes great and gives you a fantastic value for your dollar? Meet your new best friend:

whole chicken

A whole chicken is one of the most economical, EASY staples you can add as a part of your weekly menu. Notice I said “whole”. NOT boneless, skinless chicken breasts. One pack of three boneless, skinless chicken breasts will cost you roughly $6 for conventional (Purdue, Tyson, etc.) chicken and $8 for organic. Let’s say you also purchase 2 32-oz. containers of chicken broth at $3 a piece and a tub of chicken salad at the deli for $8/lb. We’ll say you went the cheaper route and bought conventional chicken and your grocery cart now contains $20 worth of products.

Let’s compare this with a $15 whole broiler chicken from your local farmer. Our last chickens came from Walnut Hill Farms in Kearneysville. They were fantastic, and we also plan on trying some from Greengate Farms in Shepherdstown for our next batch. You know where your whole chicken came from – it’s not pumped full of antibiotics and hormones, it hasn’t been fed GMO feed, and it hasn’t been kept in unhealthy squalor in a disease-filled poultry house. You’re getting about triple the amount of meat than your pack of boneless, skinless breasts – along with juicy cuts like legs and thighs. You’re also getting a bargain you may not know you’re getting – chicken bones. Chicken bones are PACKED full of vitamins and minerals – what a waste to throw them away! You can use your local, healthy chicken bones to make fantastic bone broth that you can then freeze and use whenever you need some chicken broth… and it has WAY more nutrients and flavor than that store-bought stuff. So you now have roughly a $32 grocery store value for $15. Add in the added vitamins and minerals from healthy, pastured chickens and the peace of mind that your animals were humanely treated, kept out of disgusting poultry houses, and do not contain GMOs, and that value increases immensely. AND, you’re using your chicken THREE times – 1) Roasted chicken for dinner, 2) Leftover shredded chicken (I use mine for enchiladas or chicken salad) and 3) delicious, nutritious chicken bone broth! Last but not least, you’re supporting your local farmer! Your dollars are going directly to buying a little girl’s Easter shoes, or a little boy’s baseball glove, or to put food on the table for a local, hardworking family!

Some of you are probably now saying: “But I don’t know how to cook a whole chicken!” or “It takes too much time!” or “It’s too hard!” (I truly hope nobody is throwing out the “lean meat” argument for boneless, skinless breasts – with all of the information I have posted thus far on the health benefits of pastured animal fats). I have GREAT news for you! It could not be easier to cook a whole chicken! And for those of you who have fidgety toddlers that make your kitchen time a little more challenging (oh, how I understand!) you are looking at a 5 minute prep time when you get home from work and you will be enjoying delicious roasted chicken 2 1/2 hours later (for a 4 lb. chicken). Posted below is my cheater’s recipe for Rotisserie Chicken. It’s to die for. But first, I’ll tell you how to easily make some wonderful chicken bone broth!

Chicken Bone Broth

bone broth

Chicken bone broth (or ANY bone broth) is a way to get your normal chicken broth to use in recipes, when you’re sick, etc., but with huge amounts of added vitamins and minerals! If your bone broth gels after it cools – great! The gelling is formed by gelatin and collagen – which are necessary nutrients for human health! If you’re able to throw in some of the leftover skin and some chicken FEET (yes. feet.) – even better!

Place your leftover, picked-over chicken bones (after you’ve removed meat and shredded it for another purpose) in your slow cooker. Add 64 oz. of water and 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar. The vinegar will pull all of the minerals out of the bones and into your broth. Set on low and cook 2-3 days (yes. days.). If the broth level starts to get lower as it cooks, you can simply add some more water. You can also steal a ladelful to drink for added immune boosting whenever you like, so long as its cooked for at least 8 hours. Then, pour into containers and place in the freezer. I freeze mine in Pyrex containers with about 2 c. of broth per container and label them with the amount and the date. I then just pull them out whenever I need broth!

Kiya’s Cheater Rotisserie Chicken

1 Tbsp. salt

1 Tbsp. paprika

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp. onion powder

1 Tbsp. thyme

1 1/2 Tbsp. black pepper

3 Tbsp. garlic powder

1/4 c. butter, melted

whole chicken

Preheat oven to 350. Place chicken in a dutch oven (I LOVE my Le Creuset!!!) or roasting pan. Coat chicken with melted butter. Combine all spices and rub all over bird, using all of spice mix. Place dutch oven in the heated oven and cook about 2 1/2 hours, or until internal temperature reaches 165. That’s IT! You can also do this in your slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours, if you tend to eat supper earlier in the evening.

Now, don’t ever buy that pack of boneless, skinless chicken breasts again!

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