When it comes to culinary standards and technique I am a great proponent of understanding the basics, knowing why we cook the way we cook, and setting a personal standard of excellence for the food I feed my family. At the same time, however, I am a busy mom with a career, side projects and volunteer work, and 3-4 hungry mouths to feed at any given moment.
Most of us home cooks buy pre-cut pieces of chicken rather than whole chickens. We think a pack of chicken breasts, thighs, legs or wings can be more affordable. This can be true if you plan to cook several of each piece in a value pack. However, I want to challenge this notion a bit. You can get more for your buck if learn to debone a chicken and use all of the bird to it’s max. The trick is learning the techniques to unlock all of the flavor in the whole chicken.
Chicken stock is a fundamental building block for so many delicious recipes and if you use it in as many recipes as I do it makes sense to put in a little extra work sometimes to make it at home.
I recall the day we prepped and roasted whole chickens in culinary school to be terrifying. My fear was clearly irrational. I had, after all, cooked whole turkeys for many Thanksgiving feasts prior.
I suppose the idea that this time I would be judged for my efforts, given a grade and potentially told I had been doing it wrong for all those years caused unwarranted anxiety to build up inside me from the moment I saw “Whole Roast Chicken” on the syllabus. On some occasions I allowed that fear to paralyze me and my team mate, Norma, a lovely lady who had worked at a Tyson Chicken Factory, took the lead.
It’s funny how a couple of years of life has changed my perspective from paralyzing fear of being told I’m wrong to seeing criticism as an opportunity to gather feedback, learn something new and continue to grow.