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Friday, March 13, 2015

Getting every last scrap of meat off of the chicken bones

Picking the meat off of bones is not one of my favorite chores. In fact, sometimes I get downright lazy about it and just figure, "oh I got enough meat off of this batch of bones", when in fact there is still more there.

But I am proud to say that I put the effort in this week, to really get these bones ready-for-science-project clean! Not that I intend to use them for a project of any sort.

Recently, I've been able to get 3 good meals from a whole chicken for our family. This time, I was able to get 4 entire family meals from this one whole chicken, two nights of chicken and gravy,

one night of very chicken-y soup,

and this Club Chicken Casserole, in the freezer right now, to be used for an easy on me, Sunday supper this week.

After slicing and pulling as much meat as I could off the carcass, I simmered the bones for a couple of hours, and was able to pick another full cup of meat off, even from the backbone area. I find that if I hold backbone pieces, loosely in my hand, the small bones fall apart from each other, revealing a small lump of meat between each pair of bones.

It wasn't pretty, and my hands smelled like chicken for hours afterward, but I was able to get an extra night's worth of meat to feed my family from this last of my whole chickens. Pretty satisfying.

I think that knowing this was the last of our chickens from the freezer, really gave me the impetus to glean as much from this one as possible. Do you feel that way about things, ever? It's the very last of something, so you try and get the most from it?



  1. And with the price of meat these days, it is well worth the effort of "cleaning" the bones. I do the same thing and then make a delicious broth out of the bones and skin. I really believe that we have been healthier eating our own chicken bone broth!


    1. Hi Alice,
      I was able to freeze about a quart and a half of good chicken stock, but in 1-cup containers. I like to take a cup of stock out of the freezer, and add some garlic and onion powders for a nice drink on a chilly afternoon, instead of tea. I feel healthier, and it seems to be holding a head cold at bay this week.

      You are so right, with meat being so expensive, it only makes sense to use every last bit.

  2. I didn't go to as much trouble as you did Lili, but I just finished a post that will appear Saturday on the same topic. "Great minds think alike"

  3. I know what you mean about hands smelling like chicken, so I've been using disposable gloves that are sold at Sam's or Costco. Two 500 pack disposable gloves will probably last a lifetime. I keep some in ziploc in my purse (taken even on trips), just in case I need to protect my hands from staining or soiling where ever I am. These gloves cost less than a penny each, so I consider them easy to have on hand like bandaids and kleenex.

    In the spirit of your post yesterday about making do with ingredients on hand, I did a turkey soup. I messed up a little turning it to a curry dish though, wanting to use an old curry mix that had an expiration date in August. Nothing is so inedible that we throw it to the garbage.


    1. Hi YHF,
      Good idea on the gloves. I know what kind of gloves you're talking about. We use them for handling food at our church, for coffee hours and charity teas that I work. I'll have to pick some up.

      Your soup/curry dish sounds very interesting. Maybe it was;t how you thought it would turn out, but it was a meal, and did fill tummies, so in the end -- all good! And you didn't waste something lingering in your pantry. Good job!

  4. The other ingredients were rice noodles and squash so it was really supposed to be a soup lol We are eating it anyway so no harm done, and I now learned not to turn a soup to curry as an after thought. Curry soup is not palatable, but live and learn (like someone's nickname says) :)

    I think there is a lot of waste when you overdo. That curry for example, I should have made it with fewer ingredients and it would have turned out better too. I am going to start pricing ingredients and make a conscious decision to add only the minimum of ingredients for taste and nutrition. Start with as few ingredients as possible, then add ingredients one at a time, also find cheaper substitutions to expensive ingredients. I like recipes that are simple with as few ingredients as possible anyway. Getting the bargains at the store is just one lever in controlling our food budget, the others are how judiciously we use the food that's purchased and how much of the prepared meals do we eat in a serving. Ever since reading your blog, I have made a serious attempt at portion control. My next project is studying the nutritious content of foods and how much we consume per day.


    1. Hi YHF,
      I think you've nailed it about saving money on groceries is not just about getting good buys, but also using what you have judiciously.

      I remember when I first discovered the concept of "stocking up". I had "stocked up" on breakfast cereal, because it was on sale. I bought about 17 boxes of cereal, thinking it would last just my husband and myself about 3 to 4 months. It was all gone in a couple of weeks! I learned a valuable lesson then. It turns out that breakfast cereal became my husband's go-to food for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and midnight kitchen raids.

  5. My husband likes to cut up a whole chicken when we have one. And when he does it, he makes the bones almost science experiment clean. That's why he likes to do it--snacking before dinner. I don't like to cut meat, so it's a win-win situation. However, I usually put the carcass in the freezer to boil the bones for broth later even though not much meat comes off.

    1. HI live and learn,
      you are another one of those lucky wives who doesn't have to get her hands all stinking and slimy pulling meat off of bones. I think Kris's hubby does the same for her. Consider yourself spoiled! But really, in your house,, he probably gets as much out of doing that work as you get by not having to do it. So, I'm not sure who the spoiled one is -- perhaps he is, as he gets to eat while he works!


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