I had budget-friendly meal planning on my mind when I returned to Ohio City Provisions recently to chat about chicken with chef Parker Bosley. I left after less than an hour to economize my grocery-buying habits after the chef, who recently penned a recipe for five-day cassoulet, shared his expertise on utilizing a whole chicken.
“At first, $9 or $11 for a whole chicken seems expensive,” Bosley said. “But then you consider: If I’m going to buy two boneless skinless breasts, chicken wings, chicken thighs and legs, then backs and necks to make soup, adding those costs together would far exceed the cost of buying a whole chicken. The industry loves you because instead of getting about $10 for a chicken, they are getting $15.”
Besides budget-friendliness, buying a whole chicken provides greater flexibility in meal planning with extra flair and flavor. Serve airline chicken by leaving the drumette on the breast. Peel the skin after cooking to preserve the chicken’s juiciness. You also receive bonus items like heart, kidney and liver. “Livers can be frozen for liver mousse, which is not that complicated, or Spaghetti Caruso,” Bosley mused.
Bosley’s Broth Tips
- After butchering, reserve wing pieces, neck and carcass to make broth.
- Use your thumbs to scrape out any remaining liver and kidney from inside the carcass as it can make your broth taste bitter.
- Add one gallon of water to a stockpot. Deposit carcass into pot.
- After simmering the broth for a few hours, briefly remove the carcass before it falls apart. Pick any remaining meat to use in the soup.
Equipped with a whole chicken and insights gleaned from Bosley’s instruction, I butchered that bird like a boss—with speed and intention, albeit slightly lacking the chef’s surgical precision. My week was punctuated with a variety of munchies that were easily prepared with protein at hand.
My go-to recipe for dark meat is James Beard’s Chicken with Tarragon. The breasts rendered three generous meals for two: Chicken salad sandwiches, and tacos with chipotle-spiced shredded chicken served over cauliflower rice in corn tortillas. After simmering the carcass for a few hours with aromatics, I removed the remaining meat pieces as Bosley instructed and reserved more than a cup-full of meat for a half-dozen servings of hearty chicken noodle soup.
Freezing the wings and drumettes each week per the chef’s suggestion, I’ll amass enough by month-end for a well-earned fried indulgence.
— Tricia L. Chaves