I rarely buy chicken breasts.
In fact, I actually have a few issues with chicken breasts.
Here are my issues:
- Chicken breasts are wasteful: Today farmers in the big business of agriculture are encouraged to raise bigger chickens in the shortest amount of time. The results are sick chickens needing drugs, often too heavy to comfortably walk around on their own two feet. The demand for chicken breasts drives this profit based practice. While the breasts and a couple other choice parts are cut up and sold, the bones and skin along with other less desired chicken parts often are discarded. Valuable parts of the chicken which provide many of vitamins and minerals when cooked on the bones which can also be made into broth.
- Respect for the animal: as a former vegetarian, I believe it is important to respect the source of our food, particularly when another life is given so we may eat. Lets face it, in order, for my family to eat chicken a chicken must die! When we only use chicken breasts I believe we loose this connection and respect. Once we remove its bones and only use the breasts, the meat on our plates does not resemble a dead animal anymore. When eating in such a selective way we tend to forgot another living being had to give its life in order for us to sustain ourselves. If we are going to eat chicken, I believe, it is important to respect the animal who gave of its life by using the whole chicken, not killing an animal just for a couple choice pieces of meat.
- Cost: buying chicken breasts alone are expensive! For the price of 2 chicken breasts (1lb) , around $6, I could buy 1.5lbs of a pastured whole chicken! At the end of dinner, with my 1lb of breasts I will have nothing leftover. With 1lb of a whole chicken I may not have any meat left but I will have bones which will make nourishing broth to nourish my family another night!
Now, I would be lying to say I do not purchase and cook chicken breasts. I do occasionally purchase chicken breasts at my local health food store. Frankly, I have a difficult time finding any farm that will sell me just chicken breasts.
Hmmm… Makes you wonder why?
Remember the part about respecting the whole animal and not wasting.
Our family loves chicken.
There is something incredibly comforting about chicken.
Here my alternative… whole chicken.
I purchase whole chickens from the same farm we order our beef and pork. And occasionally another small local farm. I pay around $3.50-$4/lb for a whole pastured chicken. The price tag looks hefty at first. A 4lb whole chicken can cost me $14-16.
With that one chicken I am able to feed my family dinner. Occasionally if we have enough sides I will have leftover chicken for lunch sandwiches or to top a salad, and I always save the bones to toss in the crock pot overnight to make broth. I generally end up with around 10 cups of fresh nutrient-dense broth which I freeze and use to cook rice, add to soups, and add to potatoes.
Think how much 10 cups of chicken broth from the store would cost me?
Each time we look at the chicken we partake in for dinner we are reminded that an animal gave its life to nourish us. We use as much of the animal as possible so its life was not given in vain.
Many times whole chickens will be stuffed with a little bag containing the liver and neck. You can also request the feet from a butcher or farmer to toss in broth.
The $16 I pay for a whole chicken stretches far!
We are able to respect an animal, its life given to nourish us, and waste very little. Something two chicken breasts can never do!
How to roast a whole chicken:
You will need:
- Roasting pan
- Whole chicken, rinsed, innards removed, and patted dry
- Real salt
- Fresh herbs, I use rosemary (a few sprigs)
- Butter, lots of glorious butter!
- A lemon
- A few garlic cloves
- An onion
Preheat the oven to 425º.
Wash and dry your chicken and remove any special extra treasures which may be stuffed inside. You can roast these and eat or boil them for the dog… do not waist them, let respect this chicken!
Now, chop a few tablespoons of butter into cubes (about 3 tablespoons). Rub the chicken with one tablespoon and stuff the other 2 inside the cavity. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the entire lemon over the chicken. Add the squeezed lemon to the cavity. Chop about a tablespoon of fresh herbs (rosemary is what I prefer). Rub the chopped herbs over your chicken. Add a few sprigs of fresh herbs in the cavity. Stuff this baby full of fresh goodness! Add in the onion chopped in half and a few (about 3) whole garlic cloves peeled.
That is a full chicken ready to soak up all those fresh ingredients!
Sprinkle the outside with Real Salt and fresh pepper.
Cover with foil or if your roaster has a top, cover and bake for 30 minutes at 425º.
After 30 minutes turn the temp down to 375º and continue to bake for about 30-40 more minutes.
To check if it is done, the leg should wiggle and pull away without much effort, and the juices should run clear.
I know it is tempting to dig right in!
Exit the kitchen for a few minutes…it only makes it worse to stand there and drool over it!
Cutting a whole chicken has certainly taken some practice for me. It has not always been a pretty practice, but who says food has to be picture perfect especially when it is this comforting, delicious, and nourishing!
I usually roast 2 chickens at a time, one for dinner, one for lunches, and of course, do not forget to save the bones for broth!
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