Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Save Money - Ditch the Breasts

Buying individual chicken breasts is very expensive and there is a much cheaper/easier alternative if you invest in a good knife.

A large free range chicken in Aldi costs €5.99.  A boning knife should cost in or around €25.

To begin remove the chicken from the packaging. Even if you are not going to bone out the chicken straight away, do this to store your chicken.  It will keep better and won't sweat.

My boning knife is a Wusthof.

To begin boning a chicken, press down on one of the legs to stretch the skin and slice carefully into it.  Keep pressing down on the leg until you hear a slight crack and then turn the chicken over on it's breast and work the knife around the leg.  You can see where the leg joins the body at a knuckle type joint.  Gently work the knife in between the knuckle and cut the leg free.  It should be easy to do this, if you have to use brute force you are not doing it right.

Remove the other leg in the same manner.

You can see the knuckle joint in this picture and how I have worked the knife around it trimming the meat from the leg, free from the carcass.

To remove the wings pull one out from the body and begin to carefully cut the skin around the base of it.  Work the knife to find the attachment to the carcass as in the leg and ease the knife in behind the joint. It should be easy to cut again.  Remove the other in the same manner.

To remove the first breast slice the knife along the breast bone as in the picture.  Then carefully using the carcass as a guideline gently work the breast free starting at the neck end and working your way down.  Keep the knife pointing more into the carcass so as to remove as much meat as possible.

The first time you do it you will probably leave too much meat on the carcass but don't worry it won't go to waste (nothing does).

Remove the second breast in the same way.

 First breast removed.

Both breasts removed.

Trim up the carcass removing excess skin and fat (I cook and give to the dogs).

You can split the carcass easily to make it fit into a saucepan.

Add this carcass with an onion split in half with skin on, a carrot sliced in chunks and a stick of celery.  Fill up with water and simmer for at least an hour (preferably more).  When it is cool gently remove the meat from the carcass and reserve.  Drain off the stock, straining it through a piece of muslin in a sieve to remove fat and any shards of bone.

Freeze the stock in ice cube trays and when frozen pop them out into a plastic bag.  This way you have stock cubes for later use.

A large chicken like this should give you two good sized breasts at least 220g each. 

Chicken stuffed with goats cheese and pesto
A really delicious way to cook the breasts is to stuff with goats cheese, homemade pesto (frozen in cubes the way I suggest doing the stock) and then wrapping in Pancetta.

Bake in tinfoil in a moderate oven 180 deg C for approx 30 minutes.

I wrap them in cling film and freeze them.  I often cook them from frozen but cook for about 10-15 minutes longer.  You can always defrost in a microwave or naturally if time permits.

Slice the pesto cube in half and add some of the cheese.

Fold the fillet over the stuffing and then cover with the pancetta.

Chicken stuffed and wrapped for cooking immediately or freezing.

So for less than €6 you have two large chicken breasts, 2 legs, 2 wings and at least a litre of stock (the chicken meat you have flaked off the carcass can be used to make chicken soup with your stock).

Two chicken breasts alone normally cost that.

Simples and remember practice makes perfect.

 Tags: Chicken  Boning a chicken  Money saving tips Pancetta wrapped chicken stuffed with goats cheese and pesto


  1. We've been buying 2 of these a week since Christmas and doing similar (there are five of us). We have a leg & wing meal, a breast meal then stock for the soup. Nice photos as the cutting process took ages but is now down to 20 mins for the two birds. Like the sound of your recipe, will be giving it a go!

  2. Thanks Dee, I also split the leg into drum and thigh and cook in a stew with chorizo, stock, carrots, celery, garlic etc. Very tasty and even those who not keen on leg meat love it.


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