I have to say the price difference between organic meat and non-organic meat is pretty drastic. Jaw dropping, to say the least. When I know I can buy a whole chicken for $0.79-0.99/lb at our supermarket, Whole Foods is typically double if not triple in price. During our last visit to Whole Foods, we jotted down the following full retail prices per pound for organic chicken cuts.
Organic Chicken Prices at Whole Foods (full retail price)
$1.99/lb Air Chilled Organic Fryer Whole Chicken
$4.99/lb Bone-in Chicken Breast w/ Skin
$6.99/lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
$4.99/lb Boneless Skinless Thigh
$2.49/lb Chicken Drumstick
$3.29/lb Chicken Wings
I mean, $6.99/lb for organic chicken breast? Yikes!!!!!
So in an effort to save a little bit of money and still eat organic chicken, Jared has resolved to only buy whole chicken and break it down himself. He claims he likes dong it, so who am I to argue? :) A few weeks ago, we also listened to a panel at the Family Farmed Expo where industry professionals came and spoke about cooking the whole animal, nose to tail. Granted we are not eating the chicken head or the chicken feet, but hey we're making an effort here!
Here at Eat A Duck I Must! Jared demonstrates how to break down a chicken and further down I've provided a breakdown of our expenses and savings by doing so.
The Four Piece and Eight Piece Cut
- With the chicken on its back, cut along the contour of the thigh. Flip the chicken over and continue to cut along the contour
- Flip the chicken back on its back and bend the thigh to reveal the joint
- Locate the joint connecting the thigh to the body with your fingers. Using a sharp knife or a kitchen shear, cut right at the joint.
- Repeat the same process with the other side
- With the chicken still on its back, locate the sternum
- Cut on either side of the sternum
- Cut into the breast following the contour of the rib cage until you reach the back of the chicken (you might have to cut through the wishbone)
- Bend the breast meat from the cavity to reveal the joint connecting the wing to the body
- Cut the joint to separate the breast from the body cavity
- Repeat on the other side
- To separate the wing, cut along the contour of the wing and repeat with the other breast
- To remove the leg from the thigh, cut along the contour of the leg
- Bend the leg to reveal the joint
- Cut the joint to separate the leg from the thigh
- Finally, using a paper towel or bare hands, get a grip of the chicken skin and pull it away from the breast
- Repeat the same with the other breast and the thighs
- Trim away any fatty tissues
- Save the bones for stock (and secretly stow away the chicken skin for frying!)
Each chicken gives our little 2 person household about about 3 meals. (2 dinners and lunch leftovers). The first time Jared broke down the chicken, the dark meat was used for chicken tikka masala, while the white meat for grilled pesto chicken. The second time around, we had simple grilled chicken breast over a big hearty salad and the ground dark meat was used to make chicken soboro donbori.
If you've never done it before, try it at least once. Though that's easy for me to say, Jared does all the work around here =P There are also some great videos out there about breaking down the chicken as well. But nothing beats this one of Hung from Top Chef destroying the mise en place relay race.