Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Making the most of chicken leg quarters.

I'm sure you have all seen the sales for the big 10lb bags of frozen chicken leg quarters. While the regular price is somewhere around $1 a lb, these often go on sale for 59c a lb or less. I used to see them go as low as 19c a lb, but that was quite a while back. This week I bought two bags at 39c a lb, or $3.90 for each 10lb bag. Depending on the size of the pieces, there are usually 6-8 chicken leg quarters in a bag, with each leg quarter including a leg and a thigh. Now, if I were to just defrost and bake it as is, we could probably eat that all in one meal. That's not how I roll.

First, I defrost the pieces just enough to break a few of the pieces out of the huge hunk o' meat. I drain all the fluid in the bag, give it all a good rinse, and then throw it all in my biggest aluminum stock pot. I fill the pot with water, bring it to a boil, and then let it simmer until it's falling off the bones (about 2-3 hours). You can season it at this point, adding in roughly chopped celery, onion, carrots and various herbs, but I often just boil it plain.

Pick out the chicken pieces and set them aside to cool. Strain all of the brothy goodness into another pot, and let it cool too (once the pot is no longer steaming, you can move into the refrigerator). When the meat is cooled, let the chicken picking begin! Just dive right in and seperate out the good chicken meat from all the pieces of bone, skin, and fat. Package this up in plastic baggies in whatever portions you like - I like to use 2 cup portions as most recipes I see calling for cooked, shredded chicken call for 2 cups. Out of my last 10lb bag o' chicken, I was left with 10 cups of shredded chicken.

Now, it's time to turn your attention to the broth! Just skim off the yucky creamy fatty yellow goop on the top, and then portion it out into more bags. I use about 2 cups of broth per bag as I find this is close enough to a 14.5oz can of broth that I can easily use them in recipes. From this batch, I got 19 cups of broth.

You can use the shredded chicken or broth in any of your favorite recipes. Some of our favorites:

Arroz con pollo (chicken with rice)
BBQ chicken sandwiches or BBQ chicken pockets
Chicken Spaghetti
Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken Soup with noodles
Chicken pot pie
Chicken biscuit bake
Chicken tostadas, tacos, burritos, or enchiladas
Chicken a la King over rice

I hope this gives you some help when you are looking at that huge bag of chicken in the market - or your freezer!


Dani said...

Chicken enchilada soup is another good one!

Stacey said...

Oo, good idea for the bags that are completely frozen! I usually pass on those and get the unfrozen ones.

I save the carcass of whole chickens, or I'll quater a whole chicken and save the giblets/neck/backbone into a freezer container. When I have enough, I do stock (chicken pieces, celery, onion, garlic, carrot, green bell pepper, touch of salt & pepper) in the crockpot, strin, and freeze or make into cream of chicken soup and freeze that in 1.25c portions (if I can keep myself from eating it all first!) LOL

Kristen said...

A timely post for me, I happen to have a 10lb bag in the freezer that I have been avoiding. It looks like it's going to be chicken boiling time next week. Thanks for the info.