Whole Chicken & Homemade Granola — Meal Prep
This is the first post in my Sunday series, Meal Prep. Each post I’ll share how we’re gearing up for the week, with tips and tricks for making the local life work.
My 3-year-old said it best: We’re going to make ALL the food! Meal prep plays a key important role in eating a lot of scrumptious, unprocessed local food. We need to get some staples out of the way so we have something to eat. Let’s meal prep together!
We start with one of the whole chickens we got from Kornerstone Farms. We’ll use Chris Kaser’s method which gives us lots of moist, flavorful meat as well as a bunch of nourishing delicious broth. At. The. Same. Time!
Whole Chicken Prep
First, preheat your oven to 325º, take your frozen chicken out of its bag, and place it breast-side down in a Dutch oven. Chop onions, celery, and carrots into large pieces and nestle them around the chicken. Add several whole garlic cloves (unpeeled is fine) and bay leaves. I like to throw in a star anise pod or a couple whole cloves as well for a little zing. Salt and pepper to your liking. (My liking was to forget salt till the last minute and forget pepper completely.) Don’t worry, the recipe forgives almost any mistake.
Next, fill your pot up with water to about an inch from the top. Go as high as you can fill it without spilling as you work.
Cover your Dutch oven with the lid or foil and put it in middle rack of the oven. Cook it for a few hours, or until it is golden brown, the meat is falling off the bone and the broth is a lovely golden color. I kept mine cooking for 4 hours, checking on it from time to time.
When it looks right, take it out, remove the lid and let it cool just enough to handle comfortably. Then, lift the chicken out of the pot and onto a large cutting board.
Now for our favorite messy, kind of yucky part. Tear apart that chicken! If you’ve never picked chicken off the bone before, you need to swallow your fear and show it who’s boss. Don’t let it intimidate you!
I used the forks in the picture to lift the chicken. Your hands work best for this job (not a knife or fork). You want to make sure you’re getting every piece of meat out and leaving every piece of bone and gristle behind (such a gross word).
Chris separates her meat into light and dark and then chops it and freezes it. For my family of four, I got about four sandwich bags of chicken which I plan to use for four meals. Chris shared her favorite chicken recipes with me too. I made her Lemon Pepper Chicken and served it over the last of my pantry fettuccini for the first chicken meal. Delicious!
I’ll share some of her recipes with you soon, or you can order some of her chickens, which will be ready in May, and ask for her recipes.
Last, we strain all the glorious broth we got into jars and refrigerate them. I got one and a half quarts of broth. I loved having cooked chicken and broth at the same time! And you don’t have to throw away the bones. I put them in a bag and froze them for a second cooking in my instant pot. I’ll be saving my organic veggie scraps in the freezer too, and that will make some more delicious broth. So good!
We’re also making some Everything in the Cabinets Granola and a batch of Cheese Crackers That’ll Make You Smooch Your Momma because we gotta have snacks. Here’s that granola recipe:
Everything in the Cabinets Granola
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 T maple syrup
2 T honey
2 T coconut oil
2 cups steel cut oats
1 1/4 cups any mix of nuts
3 T shredded, unsweetened coconut
3 T any mix of seeds
1/2 cup any dried fruit
Preheat the oven to 325º. Mix all the binder sauce ingredients together in a medium pot and heat on the stove just until blended. In a large bowl, combine the granola ingredients, then stir in the sugar mixture. Grease a baking sheet and spread granola evenly on the sheet. Bake at 325º for 10 minutes.
Stir 1/2 cup of any dried fruit into the granola and bake for 10 more minutes or until golden brown. Cool, crumble, and store in an airtight container.
When we make the snacks that we love, we control how much sugar and salt we’re getting with each delicious crunch. We also ensure that high fructose corn syrup is not the binder in our granola. Sugar can be eaten in moderation, but high fructose corn syrup that factory made snacks are often mixed with has no place in our bodies. We also get to diversify the contents of the granola to include complex carbs, good fats, and workhorse proteins.
I folded 4-year-aged Wisconsin cheddar I got at Happy Cow Creamery into homemade cheese crackers (recipe), which next-leveled them. I made the granola with steel cut oats from Bob’s Red Mill. I have heard all about the practices from both food producers—I know their food is top notch. If you can’t buy a food local to your city or county, buy one that’s local to somewhere. This way of eating is all about buying food from people and places that you can know, and therefore know the quality of their food.
The main thing I learned from Chris’s chicken method: Don’t serve huge pieces of roast chicken as an entree. That’s not what meat is for. It’s wasteful and not necessary for our bodies. Don’t believe me? Go talk to the doctor that checks your cholesterol. Because we’re eating amazing (and more costly) meat from farms, we need to plan out our meat containing and vegetarian meal schedule. I will definitely talk more about this in the future, but we don’t need the quantity of meat we’re consuming daily. I’m aiming for my family to achieve an every other day balance, which may change as we learn more. Take the every-other challenge with me!
Most importantly, on Meal Prep days, we’re going to have fun! It doesn’t matter when you meal prep, just know we are doing this together. Let’s make the fuel that's going to get us through our week together.
Have you been thinking about meal prepping? If you’re already a regular prepper, what day works best for you? What tips make it more enjoyable?