Tuesday Tip: Buy a Whole Chicken

 

Look at the price of conventional chicken at the grocery store and compare it to free-range, organic chicken and of course you will have a hard time buying it. It is difficult to spend $4.99/lb. when you could spend $1.99/lb. I used to just suck it up and spend it, telling myself over and over, “Pay for it now or pay for it later in health care because all the hormones and antibiotics are going to make you sick.” But I am now broker than broke, so as much as I love to justify my organic grocery shopping, I had to drastically reduce my expenditures.

There is a way to buy organic chicken and not spend any more (or much more at least): Buy a whole one.

I get mine for around $1.99/lb. This ends up being about $10-14, depending on the size. I take it home, butcher it up, divide it up into freezer bags that I can pull out for the weeks meals.

I get 3-4 meals out of these chickens (depending on how much chicken is in the meal) plus chicken stock, which basically can pay for the chicken itself and as far as taste and health benefit goes, priceless.

Here is step-by-step how to on cutting up a whole chicken.

I use the carcass and neck and any organs in the stock. After the chicken stock is made, I pick the meat from the bones and save it for a future use (soup, buffalo chicken dip, chicken salad, etc…)

Lower your grocery bill and increase the quality of food you eat, all with little effort if you are willing to coat your hands in chicken fat for a few minutes.

 

Weekly Dish: Greek Salad

I love salads and could maybe eat them for every meal. There are so many possibilities! Here is one of my favorites:

Greek Salad

1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 Cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 Cup Kalmata olives
1 cucumber, sliced into half moons
1 Cup cherry or grape tomatoes, or 1 tomato, chopped
1/2 Cup Red Onion, thinly sliced
Grilled or pan-fried chicken breast, chopped or sliced (optional)

Dressing:

1 Tablespoon homemade chicken stock
3 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
6 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 cloves crushed garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon real salt or celtic sea salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste

 

Weekly Dish: Tortilla Soup with Chipotle

I got a Vitamix for Christmas! A professional Vitamix, complete with a dry container for grinding grains! I am ecstatic about this and though I have been excitedly and passionately making smoothies for a few days now, this is my first meal made in the Vitamix. Or at least part of it was made in it.

Tortilla Soup varies and can house a variety of ingredients. I love this one oh so much because of the addition of chipotle and also the inclusion of a few different vegetables which makes this a super-soup! Not one ounce of guilt involved. This is the combination of a few different recipes and it works wonderfully. If you like chipotle, you will love this…


Tortilla Soup with Chipotle


Place the following in a large saucepan or dutch oven:

2 bone-in Chicken breasts
8 cups homemade chicken stock
1/2 large yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled
handful cilantro sprigs
1/2 teaspoon Real Salt

Meanwhile, place the following in a blender:
5 Roma tomatoes, cored
1/2 large white or yellow onion
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
1/4 of a red or yellow pepper
small chunk of cabbage
2 small slices of yellow squash
1/2-1 jalapeno, depending on desired heat level
1-2 chipotle chiles, plus 1-2 teaspoons adobo sauce, depending on desired heat level
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Garnishes:
Lime wedges
Avocado, diced
Cotija cheese, crumbled
Fresh cilantro
Minced jalapeno
Crema Mexicana or Sour Cream

Bring the broth, onion, chicken, garlic, cilantro and salt to boil over medium-high heat; reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the chicken is just cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken, let cool, and shred or dice into small pieces. Discard the bones. Pour the broth through a strainer; discard the solids.

Puree the vegetable mixture until smooth. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over high heat until shimmering; add the tomato-onion puree and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until it is darkened in color, about 10 minutes. Stir the strained broth into the tomato mixture, bring to boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer to blend flavors, about 15 minutes. Taste the soup and adjust any seasonings or add more adobo sauce for more heat. Add the chicken until heated through, about 5 minutes more. (Or place it all in a crockpot on low until ready to serve, which is what I do!)

To serve: put homemade tortilla strips* on bottom of individual bowls and ladle the soup into the bowls; pass the garnishes separately.

*Chips, unless baked, are not good for you and can wreak havoc on your health, as they are deep fried. Here is a baked tortilla chip/strip recipe:

Preheat oven to 425. Cut 8 6-inch corn tortillas into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Spread strips on a rimmed baking sheet; drizzle with 1 Tablespoon olive oil and toss until evenly coated. Bake until the strips are deep golden brown and crisped, about 14 minutes, rotating the pain and shaking the strips (to redistribute) halfway through baking. Season strips lightly with salt; transfer to a plate lined with several layers of paper towels.

Optional ingredients: Also can add corn and any kind of beans to the soup!

 

I am sharing this post at Real Food Wednesday and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.

Weekly Dish: Homemade Chicken Stock

Chicken stock is the base for countless recipes and so easy (and inexpensive!) to prepare yourself! Don’t be intimidated. It is NOT HARD AT ALL. It costs pennies, especially when you buy the bird whole and cut off the breasts and thighs to use for weekly dinners. Toss the carcass and organs in, and you’re on your way to next week’s soup!

Nourishing Traditions says, “Properly prepared, meat stocks are extremely nutritious, containing the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow and vegetables as electrolytes, a form that easy to assimilate. Acid wine or vinegar added during cooking helps to draw minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium and potassium, into the broth.”

It is the perfect way to stretch your protein and make those amino acids in grains go further than if they were eaten alone. It is great when you are sick, truly, not just as an old-wives tale.

Make a bunch! You’ll be happy you did.

HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK

Carcass from 1 free range or organically fed chicken
Giblets
2-3 stalks celery
2-3 carrots
1 onion, quartered
2 cloves peeled and smashed garlic
1-2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar (with the “mother”)
parsley

Put the carcass, vegetables and Apple Cider Vinegar in a stock pot or slow cooker. Fill slow cooker to the brim with cold water (as the ingredients warm in the water, their fibers open and release juices to add flavor).  Let it sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Bring to a boil and remove the scum that rises to the top (if you don’t do this, you could end up with off-tasting flavors in your broth… although sometimes I don’t do this and I don’t notice.) Reduce to a simmer and cook at least 6 hours but as long as 24 hours. The longer the cooking time, the more minerals will be released into the water, the more concentrated the broth will be and the better the chances of having a gelatinous* broth.

After the broth is cooked, add a bunch of parsley. This adds a little flavor but a LOT of nutrition.

After it cools a bit, strain into a bowl and put in the fridge until the fat congeals at the top. Scrape off the fat and store in fridge or freezer until ready to use. In the fridge it will last a week, longer if reheated.

*The goal is to have a gelatinous broth. In the fridge it should thicken, sometimes even jelling completely. This will happen if you have let it cook for a long period of time and let it reduce and draw all the minerals and collagen out of the bones and cartilage. The gelatin quality is desired because of its richness in protein. The gelatin is hydrophilic, which means that it attracts fluids (same way Jello works.) So the gelatin in the stock attracts digestive juices to help with digestion.

 

I am sharing this post at Real Food Wednesday!