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What to Do with a Whole Chicken

Just as an FYI, since we fall under the USDA small farm exemption for poultry processing, we are not required by law to have our chicken processed in a USDA facility with an inspector. That means we can process our birds right here on the farm. We have had an inspector inspect our process, and we got a thumbs up from her. But there are restrictions when you are under less scrutiny when it comes to food. One of those is that we can only sell our chicken whole. We can't part them up, we can't grind it up, we have to sell them whole.

We get a lot of faces at the market that walk up and ask for a pound of chicken breasts, and we have to explain why we can't do that. Often folks do walk away, because they don't know what to do with a whole chicken!

Well, boys and girls, you cook it! YAY! On a good day, my husband, daughter and I can consume an entire chicken. Usually, though, it means leftovers, which is awesome, too.

Below are some links to some places that will give you ideas on what to do with a whole chicken. I haven't bought or had stocked in my freezer specific chicken parts in ages. NO JOKE, and there is no excuse, I process them myself, I could grab a few and part them up before I store them, but I don't. Whole chickens for us. All. The. Way.

First, you can defrost, part up, and re-freeze the parts you don't want to eat right away. I only suggest defrosting and refreezing ONCE. OR, you can refridgerate the parts you aren't using today and cook within a few days. This just takes a little planning (For Larry, it's often a stir fry with the breast meat and a curry with the rest of the parts). But wait, you say, I don't even know HOW to part up a chicken. Here you go! How to deconstruct a whole chicken.

Alternatively, you can cook a whole one. There are bunches of ways to do this, and plenty of recipes. Roasting, baking, slow cooking, even grilling.

A simple grilling technique is to cut the chicken in half and lay it flat on the grill. This is called a spatchcock. You just need a good, sharp butcher knife that you can cut through the front or back. Cutting through the back, go along one side of the spine, and then just stretch the chicken out flat. Cover it with some seasonings or a good marinade to baste with, lay it on the grill and voila. Dinner!

You can find a bunch of great recipes for roasting a chicken. Don't forget to line your pan with vegetables to roast right along with it. Use the power of google or your "How to Cook Everything" cookbook to find recipes for roasting chicken. We have an old favorite called 8 Treasure Chicken that includes stuffing the chicken with a combo of rice, veggies and spices to cook in the oven. This was our first Thanksgiving meal after we got married!

I also enjoy cooking them in the crock pot. You can use an older stew bird to make great stock, but here is how I get a two-fer out of it. I take an older stew bird (these are less expensive when you buy from us) and put it in your crock pot. Add onions, carrots, celery - veggies you'd like in your stock. Add spices - sage, rosemary, thyme. Fill with water. Cook on low for 8 hours. When you are done, you can pull out the chicken and the veggies. Strain the liquid and keep it as chicken stock. The meat on the chicken will easily fall from the bone - shred this off and you can use it in tacos, casseroles or soup. You can eat the veggies, too. Of course, an alternate use of the stew bird, is Coq au Vin.

For another crock pot method, you can use a good roasting bird. Take a whole lemon and cut into quarters, stuff this into the bird. Also add in some rosemary sprigs and thyme sprigs into the cavity of the bird. Place the bird in your slow cooker. Line the cooker with potatoes and carrots and an onion also cut into quarters. Cook it for 8 hours on low. This is one of my favorites - easy to get started in the morning, and I come home to a fully cooked meal at the end of the day. Clean cooking at its finest, wrap the chicken in bacon if you want to make it Keto! I have even started this recipe with a whole, frozen chicken. Limited prep, it's a great go-to for me on busy days.

Don't be afraid to try a whole chicken. Even when you fully cook one, you can still use the carcass for soup stock in the end. A whole chicken should be able to supply your family with 2 meals (depending, of course, on the size of your family and the size of their appetite).

Stop by the Farmer's Market, I bring recipes with me there, too! And chickens! We just processed a bunch this last weekend, and they will be coming to the market with me.