Buying, jointing and cooking a whole chicken is better for your pocket, the environment and for your belly and tastebuds too. Here’s a guide to help you make the most of the whole bird, with our best chicken recipes and ideas for using up every last bit.
You’ll save money
Think about the average cost of two chicken breasts and compare it with the average price of a whole chicken. They work out almost at the same price. Breasts are the most popular part, meaning less popular parts, like the wings, are sold more cheaply. Think about it, each time a meal of four chicken breasts is made, there’s eight wings left in need of a home. Buying and jointing a whole chicken means you’ll have the wings, legs, breasts, carcass and the giblets to make into delicious meals all week. Money saved and nothing wasted. Click here for our easy guide to jointing a chicken. A 2.5kg chicken will give you five meals for two people. Scale up the recipe if you’re cooking for a family.
Head to farmdrop.com for 15% off our slow-grown chickens from Fosse Meadows and Wood Green Farms. Offer ends 23 September 2018.
You’ll make nutritious meals
How many of us have roasted a whole chicken on a Sunday, pulled off the breasts, made a meagre attempt to pick the meat from the legs then thrown the rest away? If this is you, then did you know you’re actually throwing away the tastiest and most nutritious parts in the bin? Cooking meat on the bone releases collagen into the flesh, meaning super-succulent and tender meat full of incredible nutrients and vitamins.
You’ll enhance your cooking
You’re rewarded with incredible flavour when you use the whole bird. Bits that might normally go to waste, like the skin or giblets, hold an intense rich flavour that will enhance your cooking (scroll down for more ideas).
You’ll be able to trade up to higher-welfare
If you’re saving pennies in the long-run, it makes sense to spend the extra on a truly good-quality, well-reared bird. We recommend choosing a slow-grown chicken. Fosse Meadows’ Farm in Leicestershire (pictured) and Wood Green Farm in Devon rear their birds slowly. Fosse’s chickens are grown over a minimum of 81 days (that’s over double the age of an average ‘get big quick’ supermarket bird) and Wood Green’s for a minimum of 70 days, allowing plenty of time for the chickens to roam around their fence-free farm and strengthen their bones. The result? A juicier bird with more naturally occurring vitamins, minerals and collagen, that’s so full of flavour, your tastebuds will agree that’s it’s worth using up every part possible.
Check out our easy, step-by-step guide to jointing a chicken.
In the meantime, these are our favourite chicken recipes to get you using up every delicious bit, from wing to carcass.
WINGS | Sticky chicken wings
Sticky, sweet, sour and strictly finger food, this chicken wings recipe are the perfect no-fuss starter. Try as part of a barbecue or as a light dish in their own right with a crunchy Asian salad or savoury rice.
THIGHS | Harissa chicken
When cooked properly, chicken thighs will melt in the mouth and suck up any sauce beautifully. Like this clever harissa and tomato sauce recipe.
DRUMSTICKS | Chicken & mushroom pappardelle
A dish that looks and tastes elegant and sophisticated. A great way to take full advantage of that wonderfully juicy brown leg meat, you can use leftover meat from a roast or bake them first in the oven at 200ºC for 20 minutes.
BREASTS | Garlic chicken kiev
This 70’s classic has a bad rep. Swap processed offerings for a homemade, garlic butter stuffed, slow-grown spin on a retro classic. This chicken kiev recipe uses wild garlic as well as crushed garlic cloves, but if it’s not in season, swap in a bunch of chopped fresh parsley instead.
CARCASS | Chicken noodle broth
All of the healing vitamins, minerals and nutrients in the carcass are released when simmered slowly in water. Try this chicken recipe for a hearty supper.
LIVERS | Chicken liver paté
In a frying pan, sweat half a diced onion, one crushed garlic clove and a sprig of thyme in a drizzle of oil. Add a knob of butter and wait until it begins to foam. Add the livers and brown on both sides then pour in a splash of brandy. Cook off for a few seconds then add a drizzle of cream. Blitz to a smooth paste and cool completely. Spread on toast and enjoy.
KIDNEYS | Spag bol made better
Perk up a spaghetti Bolognese by chopping up the kidneys and adding them to the minced beef as it browns in the pan for an intensely rich bolognese sauce.
NECK | Best gravy ever
The best gravy you’ve ever tasted – add the chicken neck to a baking tray with a chicken carcass. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper, then roast in the oven at 180°C for 10- 15 minutes until golden. Reserving the roasting juices on the baking tray, place the carcass and neck in a stock pot with a chopped carrot, celery stick, a bunch of thyme and a few peppercorns. Cover with water and simmer for 1 hour and a half then drain. Warm the roasting juices on the hob in the baking tray with a knob of butter. Add 2 tbsp plain our and whisk to create a paste. Cook the paste for 30 seconds then slowly add the stock a ladleful at a time, stirring constantly until the gravy is as thick as you like. Pour into a saucepan and warm through until ready to serve.
HEART | Mushrooms on toast with attitude
Pan-fry a handful of sliced mushrooms in foaming butter. Once softened, add a handful of chicken hearts and cook until brown but a little pink on the inside. Add a crushed garlic clove and a pinch of salt and pepper, cook for a further 30 seconds. Stir through 2 tbsp of cream and serve on toasted sourdough, sprinkled with chopped parsley.
CHICKEN SKIN | Crackling
No matter how unappealing it can look when raw on your chopping board, chicken skin can transform into wonderful salty chicken crisps. The perfect snack in their own right or try sprinkled over nachos, roast potatoes or salad for a rich and savoury crunch. Pull the skin off the chicken like a pair of tights and pat dry with kitchen paper. Half fill a saucepan with frying oil and bring to medium heat. Alternatively, use a deep fat fryer and heat to 160°C. Mix together 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp white pepper and 1 tsp dried thyme and rub into the chicken skin on both sides. Deep fry for 2-4 minutes until the skin is golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and leave to cool before tucking in.