Thursday, November 22, 2007

Portion Control

This week I've been doing a bit of research in that two large chickens have been bought, yesterday, one was jointed, weighed, and compared to the price.weight of the ready portions. Also the carcase was turned into stock, usable cooked flesh then taken from the bones. Today I will be jointing up the second bird, adding the carcase to the already made stock, which will give it extra depth of flavour.

It is important to use the largest birds you can buy for the smaller birds, however cheap may seems, give far less flesh in proportion to the weight of bone. The first bird I prepared was 2.285kg (I'm not converting to the pounds and ounces, for as every joint is sold in the metrics, this time it is easier to compare) the price being £4.55p. The second bird, yet to tackle, is even heavier, for it costs over £5. More about that one tomorrow, for what I hope to prove to myself is that the carcase remains much the same weight as the first bird, thus giving even more meat.
Obviously when the chicken was jointed I got two chicken quarters - these weighed over 330g each, and each could be divided again into drumsticks and thighs. The winglets were quite large at 100g each, even after the flat wingtips had been trimmed off ( all trimmings - including the skin - for I prefer skinless joints) were saved to be put in the stockpot.
Then there were the two chicken breasts which I have to say were enormous weighing 340g each. From these I was able to take off the chicken fillets and trim down slightly - these pieces large enough to bagged up separately as they were enough to make a dish on their own, be it curry or pie. Each breast large enough to cut in half and - if each half bashed thinly and each of these cut in half would turn into four escalopes, one per person.
The carcase itself - still with some flesh left on it (I am not too good at carving) - weighed just over 740g, put into the pot with a carrot, onion, rib of celery, some bay leaves (which incidentally I took from the freezer - they came out as fresh as they went in), and a sprig or two of thyme, simmered away for at least a couple of hours, I prefer four hours, to make the stock.

Then up to the computor to compare prices against Tesco's fresh chicken portions. This is where things can get tedious, half the time you don't know how many portions are in the pack, but at least they do give the weight, and even more helpful, the price per kg. (usually printed in pale grey under the price of the pack). It was enough at the start for me to read that a pack of skinned chicken breasts were being sold at £5 for 670g which meant my whole bird cost 45p less than that and my chicken breasts weighed even more, so yah boo. Hardly worth me working out the cost of the rest ('cos the way I look at it, the remaining joints and carcase were freebies) - I did do this, just to prove how much more money has been saved by a bit of DIY rather than buying the joints in separate packs.
The fillets taken from the breasts are being sold from around £8.98 a kilo, which of course is quite a weight, but nothing stops us collecting them up to freeze. Likewise winglets sold at £1.25 a kilo also worth freezing. They make good party food when coated in a spicy sauce and grilled. Chicken thighs and drumsticks are £3 a 720g pack for four of each (my two of each together weighed 629g).
Before leaving the chicken, worth mentioning that I was able to pick of 250g (9oz) of usable flesh from the cooked carcase. Almost certainly these will be made into burgers, together with cooked split peas, bread, cheese, curry paste, as I made a few weeks back and were extremely good. Also freezable.