Thursday, 17 May 2012

Cheap Chicken

A few minutes work boning cooked chicken pieces can save you a lot of money.  I recently paid £1.93 per kilo for whole chicken legs and thighs.  A kilo of value priced boneless, skinless chicken breasts costs £7.40.  Even when you allow for the weight of the bones, that's a huge increase in cost.

I think the popularity of boneless breasts has something to do with the fact that many adults now hesitate to eat or cook with anything that reminds them of an animal.  Since the 1970s, a growing number of people have grown up on a diet of processed food and fast food that has no bones about it.

I would quite happily make a stew or curry with cheap whole chicken wings, legs or thighs and pick out the bones as I eat it.  Traditional cooks know that meat cooked on the bone has more flavour.  However, I'm well aware that some people find the idea of eating with their hands or chewing around bones barbaric. 

To make boneless chicken dishes a lot cheaper, simply process your own chicken legs and thighs before using the meat.  Here's how.

Preheat the oven to 170 C.   Put a pat of butter in a roasting pan and place it in the oven until softened.  Roll your cheap chicken parts in the butter and sprinkle with salt. 

Roast for approximately one hour and fifteen minutes or until the skin turns golden brown.  Allow them to cool for half an hour.  Peel off the crispy skin and have a tasty snack. 

Pour the pan juices into a lidded container to use as chicken stock.  It will gelatinize in the refrigerator.  The fat that rises to the surface is great for frying meat and vegetables.

Separate the meat from the bones.   It will fall away easily.  Feel the pieces with your fingers to ensure that you've removed all the cartilage around the joints.  Place the meat in recycled lidded take-away containers and store in the refrigerator for up to five days. 

Use in curry or any recipe that calls for chicken breast pieces.  Since the meat's pre-cooked, add it during the last few minutes of cooking time.   I don't think my squeamish partner noticed that the stir-fry below was made with chicken legs, not boneless breast.

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