Thursday, May 6, 2010

Me and my chicken

I have been attending a women's mentoring group through our church. It's called Apples of Gold...I'll get into the details of that later. For now, I'll give the brief description that Apples of Gold is all about hospitality. We have learned to cook various dishes, set a table the proper way, and several other things. After each week when we learn something new, my goal is to do it at some point that week. For example, one week we learned how to make this beef roast. That week I made it for Joe. A couple of weeks ago we learned how to make biscuits from scratch...I made them. All of those things were great and I was glad to learn how to do them, but none of them were what I would consider "life altering." One thing, however, was. One week they showed us how to take a whole chicken and cut it up to make chicken stock. This sounds simple, but being a girl who lives in the city, I just buy my chicken stock at the grocery store and my chicken breast already cut up. The concept of buying a whole chicken and doing something with it was completely out of my comfort zone. However, in an effort to fully take advantage of all the class has to offer, I decided that I WOULD cut up a whole chicken...oh yes.

I documented the process. Here you go. Meet my chicken.

I got her at Safeway. I don't know how much she weighed and honestly I didn't care. On our trip to Ikea I picked up the handy poultry scissors you see to the left, and on the right I had my trusty knife. Yes, I know you're not supposed to cut up meat on a wooden cutting board, but I don't have a plastic one, so I just covered the one I had in plastic wrap and made sure not to cut through it.

Step one: Remove the guts...ok, I know they aren't officially called the guts, but that's what they are! I would like to take this moment to personally thank the person that puts the guts in a little plastic bag. THANK YOU! Because of you I didn't have to actually touch the guts, I just had to touch the corner of the bag and gently toss them in the garbage.

And this was my face as I was getting rid of the guts. I'm not going to tell you what my stomach was didn't feel good. (I thought mom's were supposed to have stomachs of steel!)

Step two: Cut the skin and meat around the legs, then twist the hip bone until it breaks free. I'm not a fan of the twisting. I was really glad when that part was over. It's gross enough to hear the bone break, but to actually FEEL it in my hands was really disgusting.

You do the same thing with the wings. On one hand the wings were easier because they were smaller. On the other hand, they were more difficult...because they were smaller. Weird, I know. I can't explain it.

Step three: separate the breast from the back, then cut the breast in half. Sorry I don't have pictures of this. Joe was off with Ella and I haven't yet learned how to take a picture with my toes, so you'll just have to trust me that I did it. This was where the poultry scissors came in very handy.

Step four: Put the chicken pieces in a pot and cover with water. I added carrots, celery, bay leaves and peppercorns for flavor. Doesn't this look good? Then, what we learned was that instead of boiling the chicken, you simmer the chicken. I don't really remember why...something about the fat floating to the top or something like that.

So I simmered my chicken and the house smelled absolutely amazing! I loved it and Joe kept asking me if I would make him some soup. I could have with all the awesome chicken stock I got, but I didn't. It's spring...soup is a winter food.

Here is a picture of all the stock we got from that one chicken. I put it in these containers and froze it. The thing I'm most excited about is that this is sodium free. If I had put salt in while I was cooking it, then of course there'd be sodium in it, but I chose to leave it out so that I could add salt later. The thing that worries me the most about buying soup and chicken stock in the grocery store is that it's full of sodium. And even the kind with less sodium is still crazy! This makes me feel like I'm making a real effort at keeping our sodium down.

And here is a picture of the chicken meat. I used this to make chicken of our favorites.
So there you have it, my chicken cutting experience. I don't think I'll do this often, but I will do it again sometime, especially when I need more chicken stock.

After the class each week I always call my mom and tell her what we learned. When I told her about us learning how to cut up a chicken, she informed me that the first time she cut up a chicken she had to go out to the coop, find the chicken, kill it, pluck it, cut it up, fry it and they ate it for dinner that night. Boy am I glad I live in the city!


Linda said...

Hi Katie:
First time making a comment on your newly discovered blog. That was awesome, making chicken stock from scratch. I will try it myself, and you should have made some soup for your husband, soup is for any season, not just winter. Hope Ella is doing well and I will continue to read her progress. Take care. Leah's Nana

Katherine Klegin said...

woohoo! go you! homemade chicken that's gonna be great!

Anonymous said...

We have the Apples of Gold group at our church. I wasn't able to join due to my work schedule, but some ladies I know LOVE it! Glad you enjoy it!!