Most of us chicken lovers tend to be rather picky when it comes to consumption and only stick to muscle meat when preparing meals. But it doesn’t have to be this way, in fact almost all cultures made use of the entire animal after the hunt which is not only economical but also nutritious. By using the wings, thighs, backbone, feet, and even chicken offal it’s possible to make rather unique and delicious meals. Let’s take a look at some easy tips on how to maximize your culinary use of this versatile protein.
The Importance of Butchering and Preparation of Chicken
There’s something about the aroma of chicken that gets everyone’s mouth-watering, but before enjoying this succulent delectable, let’s look at how to prepare it properly. Most of the time we see the cuts already pre-packaged, but if you want to truly be creative with this food you’ll certainly have to learn to prepare it yourself. With a couple of tries and the right guidance, you’ll be able to turn the full chicken into pieces suitable for any recipe.
When taking apart a full chicken for cooking its separate parts, the first step is to remove the backbone. The easiest way to do this is to cut along either side of the bone with poultry shears or a sharp knife. Then while working your way down, you can remove any excess fat and sinew from around the joints of the chicken.
After the backbone is separated, you can start to break down the other parts of the chicken by removing each leg and thigh at their joints. You should now make an incision in each breast, to separate them from one another as well as from the carcass. This will then give you the space to remove the wings and any smaller parts such as the neck, gizzard, liver, heart, or feet.
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Ways to Cook and Prepare Chicken Offal for Succulent Meals
The most overlooked part of the chicken is the offal, but these often discarded parts can surprisingly be transformed into delicious and succulent meals. When you’ve prepared your chicken and separated its offal parts, you can cook them up in various ways. Let’s look at some of the best ways to serve these parts of the chicken.
Cooking Chicken Heart
The chicken heart is a surprisingly flavourful and tender part of the chicken. The simplest way to cook it is to grill or sauté the hearts. You’ll want to marinate them first in olive oil, garlic and herbs to taste, then cook them quickly over high heat until they are lightly browned on both sides and cooked through. While pan-fried is great, they can be quite delicious if grilled on skewers as the meatiness of the hearts pair well with the barbequed flavors.
How to Prepare and Cook Chicken Gizzards
Chicken gizzards can be prepared in a variety of different ways but the most fool-proof way to prepare them is by boiling them in water for at least an hour until they become tender. Once boiled, you can fry them in butter or olive oil for a few minutes and season to taste. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could also make a curry with gizzards and include some aromatic spices.
Sauteeing Up Chicken Liver
If you’re looking for something high in nutrients then you should try some chicken liver for your next meal. The best way to cook them is by pan-frying them in butter or some olive oil, just ensure you avoid overcooking. The liver tends to get hard and rubbery quite easily so remember that they only need a few minutes on each side. Some vegetables such as onions, peppers and even tomatoes can also be added.
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Boiling Bones for Tasty Stock
If you love homemade soups and sauces, one ingredient that always comes in handy is a rich and flavourful stock. While it’s easy to find stock in stores, making your own is both cost-effective and allows for better freshness and control over the flavor profile. You simply start by boiling bones, and let them simmer in a pot of water for several hours, adding in aromatics like onions and garlic to infuse even more taste. Then once you’re done, you strain the remaining mixture and can use it for a variety of recipes.
Cooking with the entire chicken is not only a great way to avoid wastage but also a way to be creative and consume nutrients you probably usually wouldn’t from the more common cuts you’re used to eating. We can make everything from stock to offal dishes and more, the possibilities are endless. All in all, this way of cooking can provide amazing results with little care and time taken to learn these methods.
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