How to Deal with Whole Chickens
If you, like many others have made the switch to raising your own chicken or buying local, then you may have the dilemma…what do I do with this whole chicken? In this post I will tell you how I deal with the whole chicken.
I used to be super intimidated by the thought of a whole bird. I mean– I liked my boneless skinless chicken breasts. How about a family sized package of chicken thighs? Yes please! However, after moving to the country and beginning our journey to raising our own food, I had to let the convenience of prepackaged chicken parts go.
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As I see it, you have several options–some easier than the others.
1. Boil it
You can boil the bird-then de-bone it after it’s cooked. Use the meat for soup, a curry, or a casserole. You could also place the cooked chicken in zipper bags for later use.
2. Roast it
A whole roasted chicken. The is probably the most common way for me to cook a couple of chickens. Pre-heat the oven to 475 or 500, roast it at that temp for about 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375 to finish it.
3. Crock-pot, no water
Stick one in the crock-pot. It’s just as easy as it sounds! When I say stick it in the crock-pot, I mean just that. Don’t do anything else to it! You could season it if you wish, maybe add a little salt. Add no liquid at all. This will keep it from turning into a mushy chicken. I Often put a frozen chicken in the crock-pot overnight, then de-bone it the next day. With this, you can make anything you want. I usually make chicken salad with it.
4. Cut it up into parts
Cut the chicken up and package it as parts after butchering. We do this sometimes and it sure is convenient later on. Unfortunately, there are some butchering days when the weather is moving in, or we are just plain tired. The thought of cutting up all of the chickens right then is just too much!
Plan ahead a bit and pull several chickens out of the freezer. Let them thaw, cut them up, and use them throughout the week for things like oven fried chicken. This is the method I will walk you through today.
How to cut up a chicken and make meals for the whole week
In our home, I need to thaw four whole chickens in order to have enough breast meat for oven fried chicken strips. Below, I will show you how to cut up a whole chicken. It isn’t difficult, but it is an extra step that you may not be used to.
Here’s what you need
A good sharp knife. I despise sharpening knives, so my husband kindly keeps them sharp for me! We really like the Chicago Cutlery boning knife. It is the knife we use for processing our chickens on butchering day too. You will also need a cutting board that can be cleaned well, some paper towels, zipper bags and a stock pot. Also, a whole chicken!
Start with the thighs
Next cut the wings
Now for the breast meat
Admire your work!
Toss the carcass in the pot
How to separate the thigh from the drumstick
The same technique applies here. Cut the skin, locate the joint. Pop the joint, and cut between it.
Now, what to do with all this meat?
Stay with me as I will be posting some chicken recipes to help you decide what to do with all the chicken that you can now cut up! How about Crispy Oven Fried Chicken, or Curry Chicken or maybe some Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup! Stay tuned!
It’s really sad that I don’t know how to do this! My hubby always cuts ours up. I am going to do it on my own next time! Definitely a Pinterest save for future reference! Great job.
How funny, I used to be too grossed out to even take the giblets out of a store bought turkey! I always got my husband to do it!
Thanks Jenn! I love this. We have raised and bought whole chickens for years but I have to say that I’ve never cut any up. Crazy, I know! Always seemed too difficult and really what was the purpose for just one…we’re eating the whole thing anyway, right? But doing 4 at a time so I can get enough of any one part never occured to me. I do often cook 2 or 3 at a time to save time for later prep but always did them whole. This is a game changer.
Hope you are going to be shiwing all the meals you made with them!
Julie, I am so glad this inspired you. Isn’t it funny how we get into doing things and forget there may be other options! When I was putting this post together last night, my blocks were giving me grief for some reason, when I looked at it today I saw that several sections were never published! So, yes I intend to share some recipes, you didn’t know that because the block wasn’t there! Ha! It’s all fixed now! Thank you for the encouragement!
I have never done this myself!! I bet it also saves a good deal of money buying the whole chicken!
Oh thank you! I have always been disgusted by crockpot chicken and now I know why! We buy local chicken but pay extra to have most of it cut up… maybe I could now attempt it myself!
I know I am totally disgusted by crock-pot chicken too! Without liquid it even gets a bit crispy on the outside! I have started putting very little liquid in with all of my other meats too, and I like the results much better.
I am so glad that this was helpful! I feel silly on video. We raise Cornish Cross. We have a hatchery right down the road, so we buy from them. We have tried Heritage Breeds in the past, but we like the quick grow and meat from the Cornish Cross. We raise them for 7 or 8 weeks and average between 5 and 6 pound birds.
We just started a small farm and sell whole chickens. We have Cornish Cross chickens and so far it’s been good. Just trying to sell them now . Tonight I’ll attempt to cut up a whole chicken
I’m so happy for you! Being able to sell some sure offsets the cost of raising them, doesn’t it? I hope cutting it up goes well for you!
This was so helpful! Especially with the video. What breed of meat birds do you raise and at what age do you butcher? Your bird looked nice and meaty
Oops, I replied to the wrong person! We raise Cornish Cross Chickens. We raise them for 7-8 weeks and average between 5-6 lbs. They are nice and meaty! We prefer them over the Heritage breeds like the Red Rangers. These just grow faster, they are easier to process and the meat is what people expect from chicken. I am glad this was helpful!
Oh how I needed this post! One of my major goals for our new cottage is to have a freezer where I can store meat. I have never been able to do the whole chicken thing, and will admit that it intimidates me! Will pin this post so that I can reference later. Thank you!
So glad it will be helpful to you!
This is a great tutorial. I have always left this job to my husband but you’ve made it so clear I don’t feel intimidated anymore. Thank you.
Great post! I seriously love chicken, thank you for the great tips!
Thank you Jen! I appreciate you stopping by!