Weekend Project – Whole Chicken Utilization

Ideally I’d love to be able to try out new experiments and cooking strategies multiple times a week buuut since I’m back in school & I find myself quite-so-very-busy throughout the week that’s going to have to wait until a few months from now when my course load lightens up a bit (only 8 more weeks till the end of Winter Quarter!!!).

In the meantime however I’ve come up with a pretty satisfying compromise. I’ve decided to commit to one new paleo-inspired experiment a week – whether it be a recipe or something else (probably derived from the cookbook I received for Christmas, Practical Paleo.) I think this is definitely something I can manage throughout the Winter. It also gives me something to brainstorm & look forward to all week long. As if I need another reason to look forward to the weekends..

The event that triggered this new idea was… drum roll please… a trip to Whole Foods. Uneventful? Yes. Satisfying? YES. Expensive? Maybe.. unless you make up for it by casually circling back through the bulk (aka sample) aisle one too many times a visit.

Not saying I do that, but not saying I don’t do that either..

Aaaanyway, last week I decided to make a little pit stop at the good old WF on my way home from studying (No I don’t purposely choose to study at the coffee shops closest to Whole Foods..) & to my surprise they had whole chickens on sale! Less than $8 for a whole chicken, don’t mind if I do!

Fast-forward two days later and there I am, Sunday evening with a whole un-cooked chicken in my fridge, some spices in the cabinet & a crock-pot under the cupboard. So what did I do? Weeell, I baked the chicken with a few simple spices & made bone broth/chicken stock out of the bones! Aka, I utilized the crap out of that $8 chicken. Us college kids, we’re good at getting our moneys worth.

Now I’ve only roasted/baked a whole chicken once in my life (with a little help from my Dad) & I’ve also only ever made bone broth once in my life (also with a little help from my Dad.. AND it was out of ox tail bones purchased at our farmers market) so I think that it’s fair game that this little chicken utilization extravaganza becomes the inaugural project for all weekend experimentation projects to follow. Well that was quite the sentence.

So before I wrap up this post with a few pictures, quickly want to touch on why I didn’t just throw the bones out & call it good with the chicken meat. I mean it was only $8 right.. why did I feel the need to use the bones too? And what do I plan on doing with that broth after it forms?

Weell, first off bone broth may sound like a somewhat foreign concept to today’s generation. Doesn’t broth come from a can? Right.. Just like tuna-fish.

But really, cooking down bones into broth is nothing new and was actually a standard in traditional American households. Back when most animals were raised and slaughtered locally and nothing went to waste. Sigh. But seriously, you know how your mom used to always make you drink chicken-noodle soup whenever you got sick? Well, yea, the soup you were drinking was probably some sort of canned Campbell’s sodium-loaded, gluten-filled concoction, buut your mom was on the right track. Bones contain tons of beneficial nutrients, the amino acids proline and glycine being on the top of the list – which are the two key components of connective tissue – aka what holds our bodies together. And the only way to truly access these nutrients is to boil the bones down until they either disintegrate or break down enough to release the numerous vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants they contain.

Basically, when it comes down to it, bone broth provides your body with bio-available forms of nutrients including calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and other trace minerals that help with the healing and general functioning of many of the systems in the body so if you want: a. your joints to feel better b. your nail, skin, & nails (helloooo collagen) to feel stronger/healthier, c. your digestion to improve, d. your immune system to get a little boost (it is cold season after all..) or e. ALL OF THE ABOVE then go get yo’self a chicken & boil them bones!

Oh & what to do with the bone broth after it’s all done? Well first, skim the layer of fat/impurities that will form on the surface (don’t be scared, use a spoon), and then drain the broth so that you are left with a translucent yellow-brown liquid. Now you can freeze portions of the broth to be used later or put it in a tupperware in the fridge if you plan on using it all within the week. I personally like to put a few scoops of the broth into a bowl or mug and add some boiling water to it (1. because it will be gelatinous due to the presence of gelatin and 2. because I read a somewhere a little while ago that microwaving or re-heating up the bone broth directly can denature the amino acids). I then add a little bit of salt & drink it as is either first thing in the morning, last thing before bed, and/or along side meals. It’s as simple as that! You can also use the stock in a number of recipes – soups and such – which I also plan on trying out later this week!

Real quickly before picture time want to give credit to the websites/articles I used as sources when writing this blog: this article by Danielle Sanfilippo , this article by Sally Fallon, AND this article by The Paleo Mom, of course.

Alright, picture time.

photo 1

(Without giblets, thank goodness)


Cutting up this bad boy was a fun little process. Towards the end I ended up using a little more hands and a lot less knife.

photo 4

Chicken for days!


Straining the bones after they’d been cooking for ~ 20 hours.


Viola! My big, beautiful tub of bone broth.

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