Nina’s Tips & Techniques: Fall Cooking Series featuring Whole Chicken

A whole chicken seems like a lot of work – is there a benefit to buying a whole chicken instead of just the pieces already cut up?

I understand that a whole chicken is a lot of work, but it’s also a big cost savings. Chicken that has been broken down into single cuts is priced higher per pound because a person has to take time to do that work for you (whether it’s in the processing facility or in the store). Buying a whole chicken is a much more affordable option. You can really win if you utilize all the parts of the chicken – like the bones!! Whether you roast your chicken whole or cut the meat off and are left with a raw carcass, the bones can be simmered in water with aromatics to produce wonderful broth. I save carrot, onion, and celery trimmings in a small bin in my refrigerator and whenever I have a chicken or turkey carcass I make stock. This saves money on boxed or canned stock – and the home made stuff ALWAYS tastes better! If you don’t cook the wings those are great to put  in your stock as well. And finally, there is just something about a whole roasted chicken that seems to be the most cozy and wonderful thing you can pull out of your oven on a cold fall evening. I mean, come on…sometimes the reason for doing something is just for the pure joy of it!

What is spatchcock and what does it do to in terms of cooking a chicken?

Spatchcock is when the back bone of the chicken is removed and the chicken lays flat. Spatchcocking a chicken helps even out the cooking of the white and dark meat and exposes all the skin so that it browns all over – yum! Spatchcocking seems like a daunting task, but it’s simpler than it appears. Just take a sturdy pair of kitchen shears and cut right up along both sides of the back bone. Then pop out the breast bone – it’s a large piece of cartilage that comes out easily. Lay the bird flat and you’re done! If you don’t want to spatchcock yourself our friendly meat dept staff are happy to do it for you for a very small fee!