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Real Food Money Saving Tips: Chicken Thighs and Drumsticks for Stock

www.mypicshares.com

Want to make chicken stock but don’t think you can afford good quality chicken? Buy chicken thighs (bone-in) and drumsticks. These pieces are quite inexpensive. Conventional health tells us to avoid dark and red meat. So over the last few decades, meat producers in the U.S. have put a premium on white meat – which is actually the least healthful. Dark meat is actually better for you to eat because it contains more of those all important nutrients found in poultry (see below). If you can get your hands on chicken organ meats, those are also cheap, and extremely nutrient-dense to use in soups, stews, casseroles, and any other dish which has a lot of ingredients in it (think hiding the organ meats in these meals).

Once you have let your bones soak for an hour or so in filtered water with a splash of apple cider vinegar, add in all your other ingredients: butter or ghee, onions, carrots, celery, salt, pepper, and any seasonings you like. I frequently use any combination of the following: parsley, thyme, sage, marjoram, oregano, or basil. Here’s a post about making bone broth.

If you are feeling adventurous, find a farmer who will give you or sell you some chicken feet. Yes, chicken feet. These are incredibly cheap and fantastically abundant in minerals, amino acids, gelatin, and collagen – which helps your whole body and especially your skin, eyes, and bones.  You can add these into any chicken stock after cleaning them and clipping off the nails. Some people don’t clip them off, but I do since toxins can collect in them (such as arsenic).

Is all chicken created equal?

Unfortunately, no. You will get the most nutrition from chickens (or any poultry) raised on pasture, without antibiotics or feeds which alter their nutritional composition such as corn, and grain (and are likely to be sourced from GMO – genetically modified organisms). You are also going to get 3-5 times the amount of nutrients like CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), Omega 3 essential fatty acids, and fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.  Read this informative article from Eat Wild to learn more about the benefits of grass-fed and pasture-raised.

Sources for chicken:

Ideal - pasture-raised direct from the farm – may also be organic (ask local farmers or go to your farmer’s market) see this post about deciphering egg and poultry labels
Better - Pasture-raised chickens from local grocery or health food store – may also be organic
Acceptable - commercial and grocery store organic, “cage-free”, or “free-range”, omega-3 chickens. Many of these are also raised on feedlot premises, but may be antibiotic-and chemical (pesticides) free.
Avoid – conventional poultry from the grocery store which likely is raised on a feedlot, usually administered antibiotics, usually exposed to pesticides/herbicides, and most often given corn, soy, and grain as main source of feed.

Deciphering egg and poultry labels
More money-saving tips:
Waste not, want not: tips for saving in the kitchen
3 tips for eating organic on a budget
Proof that real food doesn’t have to cost a bundle, is nourishing, and satisfies!
Food budgets- using creativity and prioritizing for healthy eating

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday Blog Hop, hosted this week by Sustainable Eats

Healthy Living Kids & Family Recipes Uncategorized

Rustic Baked Chicken With Cheese and Bacon

www.mypicshares.com

I absolutely love the combination of chicken, melted cheese, and fried bacon. It is succulent and satisfying to the taste buds, and has such a diversity of flavors – the smoky taste of bacon and tanginess of cheese goes wonderfully well with a comfort food like baked chicken. And it’s something most everyone in your house is sure to like – even the pickiest of eaters. The smell alone of this food while cooking is incredibly irresistible.

I can’t stress enough the importance of quality ingredients. We used chicken thighs and legs – which are more economical than larger pieces such as the breast. Many people perceive the breast to be the healthiest piece of the bird since it’s “leaner and lower in fat”.  But breasts are actually the least nutrient-dense part of the chicken. Dark pieces do contain cholesterol, and they are also slightly higher in fat. But that’s actually a good thing. Did you know that since dark meat has more fat and cholesterol, that means it has more nutrients? And if poultry is from healthy birds who aren’t administered antibiotics and are on pasture, it is very healthy to eat. You can feel good about using dark pieces of chicken as they count for more nutrition AND they are cheaper.

So when you’re shopping for poultry, definitely go for the pasture-raised variety from local farms. Unlike feedlot chickens in confinement, these chickens eat a healthier diet, have access to sunshine and are able to forage and eat insects. This makes the quality of their meat higher – more conjugated linoleic acid (cancer preventions), Vitamin A , D, E, and K (fat-soluble vitamins), and Omega 3 fatty acids (lowers the risk of auto-immune problems, heart attack, cancer).

Cheese is such an artisanal food, it seems wrong to buy anything commercial. It’s difficult to find local, raw cheese where we live (Boise, ID). Occasionally I buy some of the few local cheesemaker’s products – but mostly they are pasteurized. For this recipe, I used some raw cheese which I try to keep on hand in my freezer from various merchants I know and trust such as U.S. Wellness Meats from Missouri or Trickling Springs Creamery, whose cheese I tried at the Weston A. Price Wise Traditions Conference in King of Prussia, PA. I also used some Italian Asiago cheese from my health food store cheese counter.

Your bacon should also be from a pasture-raised source for the same reasons – more Vitamins A, D, E, and K, . Healthy saturated fats and proteins contain nutrients necessary for health!

And now for the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • Pasture-raised chicken parts of your choice – we used thighs (4) and legs (5), bones in
  • Mushrooms – I used 4 large shitakes, sliced
  • Diced onions -I used 1/2 of a small onion
  • Minced garlic – 3-5 cloves, depending on how much you love garlic
  • Package of bacon from pasture-raised hogs, sliced in half and cooked (I fried it in a cast iron pan on the stove first)
  • Grated cheese of your choice – I used a mixture of raw cheddar and Asiago, about 1 cup (what can I say, I like cheese)
  • Butter or ghee – you can also add in some olive oil or use it place of the butter, however, butter or ghee imparts an incredible taste to the chicken
  • Sea salt – to taste
  • Pepper – to taste, I used about 1/4 tsp
  • Paprika – to taste, I used about 1/2 tsp

Equipment:

  • Large pan – I used stainless steel
  • 9×12 baking dish

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large pan, fry bacon on the stove. Some people prefer the oven method. Leave the bacon just on the side of underdone since you will be putting it in the oven on the chicken when you are finished. Set aside on a plate.
  3. Drain most of the bacon grease from the pan where the bacon was cooked into a storage container (you know you want those bacon drippings for refried beans). Add onions and garlic to the pan on medium-low heat.
  4. While the onions and garlic are sauteeing, add mushrooms. At this point, you can add butter or ghee to your pan to help add more oil for the chicken to cook.
  5. Add chicken pieces, then add salt, pepper, and paprika and brown on both sides, but don’t cook all the way through.  Allow chicken to cook for about 7- 10 minutes on each side, covered on medium low heat. Depending on how big your pan is that you use to brown the chicken, you may have to brown one set of pieces and set them in your baking dish until the next set are browned.
  6. Place the partially cooked chicken in a baking dish, cover pieces with the mushrooms, onions, and garlic, and pour the remaining “sauce” from bacon drippings and butter or ghee and/or olive oil over it.
  7. Drape chicken with bacon pieces.
  8. Cover chicken and bacon with grated cheese. I covered the bacon as much as possible with cheese to make certain it didn’t  burn in the oven while the chicken finished cooking.
  9. Allow chicken to bake 45 minutes to an hour. Check periodically to make sure your chicken/bacon/cheese is not burning on top. If it does start to get too hot, cover with a piece of foil. Your cooking time will depend upon how long your chicken cooks on the stove and other factors like elevation.

I just realized something I neglected to think of for the perfect finishing touch to this meal that would be divinely delicious – a mild mustard/homemade mayo sauce. I’ll be making that next time!

Enjoy your chicken served with a salad topped with olive oil and vinegar or cooked vegetables with plenty of pastured butter.  My family loved this meal – and we had leftovers!  :)

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday Blog hop (hosted this week by GNOWFGLINS).