Home > Ethical Consumption, Food, Provenance > Chikin Biznis: Four into one makes three

Chikin Biznis: Four into one makes three

Preparation Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 0 minutes Yield: 0

The jointed chicken prior to freezing seperately

What’s the title of Ntshavheni wa Luruli’s hilarious 1999 movie about chicken seller Sipho’s (Fats Bookholane) often shady business dealings and frequently dubious liaisons in Soweto, got to do with food and cooking, you might ask?

Well, nothing actually, except that the title catchily describes what Man in the Kitchen is about for the next few weeks. Having just read Hattie Ellis’ disturbing yet thought provoking “Planet Chicken” (see my book review here) about the chicken business worldwide, I was intrigued by her suggestion that it is possible to feed a family of four, three times with a single two kg free range chicken. Although she is thin on the detail of how to do so, it got me to thinking, and I set out to put her hypothesis to the test. The result? Yes, it is entirely possible.

Obviously, you will have to supplement each meal with carbohydrate and veggie accompaniments, but that will add little to the total cost of the three meals, by comparison with the cost of the chicken.

Over the next four weeks, I will be taking you through the process of jointing the chicken, making stock, a soup, a casserole and a stir fry. All this for a mere R60 in protein costs, which amounts to R5 per person per meal. Now how’s that for a bargain?

Of course one may be tempted to buy one of those cheap battery birds from the local supermarket, which would drive the per person cost down even further, but what trade-off are you making, both in terms of what goes into the rearing, slaughtering and packaging of the chicken, and the quality of the protein you’re going to ingest? How do you think a 42 day old bird gets to weigh two kgs?

I buy free range organic chicken for R30 per kg, from Coleen Lesch at the Stellenbosch Fresh Goods Market every Satruday morning. Collen makes the journey in from her farm, Klipfontein, between Paarl and Wellington every Saturday morning, with a crop of happy chickens, freshly packaged for you. They range in size from just under 2kg to over 3kgs.

Since the first recipe (stock and soup) will only appear next week, you may want to wait until then before commencing this journey with me, or alternatively you will have to freeze the carcass, giblets and wingtips which you will use to make the stock and soup, as well jointed chicken pieces.

Jointing the chicken

Before we start to cut, a word about the skin. I remove it completely and discard it, but that is a personal health choice. Some say that removing the skin makes for dry meat when you cook it, but that would only really apply if you roast a whole bird skinned or perhaps grill the breasts. If you make a casserole and a stir fry, the meat will be anything but dry.

You may well decide to include it in the stock pot, and it will undoubtedly add flavour, but it will also add a lot of fat, which you will have to skim off. The choice is yours, but if you’re going to skin bird, do so before you do any cutting.

While on the subject of fat, as you proceed with the jointing, you will encounter fairly substantial globules of fatty tissue on the pieces. I tend to trim them off, but the choice is yours.

Starting with the bird on its back, rear end facing you, ease the skin off the breasts with your finger tips, until the breasts and carcass are naked.

Ease the skin off around each thigh then pull it off each leg as you would pull of a sock. Turn the bird over, and ease it carefully off the back then off the wings as best you can.

Jointing a chicken is a lot easier than you might think, provided you follow a few basic rules, and you have a good sharp (preferably deboning) knife.

You’ll want to freeze the chicken portions individually, so place a sheet of cling-film on a baking tray upon which you can lay them out individually, not touching each other.

Remove the giblets (heart, liver, neck, etc.) if any, and set aside.


Cut carefully through the flesh at the base of the thigh where it joins to the carcass

First, pop the hip joints by grasping the carcass in one hand, the thigh in the other, and folding the thigh down until the joint ‘breaks’.

Cut carefully through the flesh at the base of the thigh where it joins to the carcass.


Separating the leg (drumstick) from the thigh

Following the natural muscle lines between the thigh and the leg (drumstick), cut through the flesh right down to the bones of the joint. Grasp the thigh and the leg, and ‘break’ the joint. Cut carefully through the tendons and ligaments to separate them. Lay them on the baking tray.

Grasp a wing and lift the bird partially to expose the natural muscle lines where it joins the carcass. Cut carefully along the muscle lines right down to the joint then cut carefully through the tendons and ligaments. At this point, you may choose to cut off the wingtips, which I do, since they contain little flesh, but they do make a nice addition to the stock pot. Repeat with the other wing, and arrange on the baking tray.


"Filleting" the breats off the chicken

With the rear end of the carcass facing you, cut down one side of the breast bone from front to back. Separate the breast with one hand, while cutting it away from the ribcage, taking off as much flesh as possible. Once the breast is completely separated from the carcass, only the wishbone will still be keeping it attached. Cut away from the breastbone downwards, with the knife blade hard up against the wishbone, until the breast separates cleanly.


Trim off any excess fat to make for healthier meal

Trim the breasts neatly, and lay on the baking tray.

You should now be left with eight chicken portions: two each legs, thighs, wings and breasts. Place the baking tray in the deepfreeze for about an hour to freeze then seal them in a zip-seal bag and place in the deep freeze.

Seal in a plastic bag and freeze the carcass, giblets and wingtips which you will use to make the stock and soup, the subject of next week’s recipe.

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  1. March 5, 2011 at 11:52 am

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