Whole Chickens

When the WSJ starts publishing instructions for pulling apart a chicken, you know that inflation is now touching the elites.

Some Consumers Are Giving Inflation the Bird—With a Whole Chicken

Over the years, Americans have grown more willing to pay the premium to have the yucky stuff done for them, rather than hacking up the whole bird themselves.

Rookie whole-chicken chefs have been rudely introduced to giblets, struggled to carve around bone and ended up with more leftovers than they know what to do with.

As of last week, the price for a whole chicken, on average, was $1.56 a pound, according to the Agriculture Department, up from $1.09 a year ago. Boneless, skinless chicken breast prices were $4.26 a pound, up from $2.46 a year ago.

Whole chicken sales aren’t soaring, but a longtime decline in sales of whole birds has slowed a bit in recent months.

This is timely information. I noticed that the local Safeway has a special on whole chickens for 37 cents/lb.



I buy 2 whole chickens every week at Wal-Mart where they are bagged together. The price has risen from $1.00 per pound to $1.19 per pound. Safeway whole chickens are $2/ pound. There are no coupons.

I wish our local supermarkets had the same discounts as yours. That’s highly local.

I wish our local supermarkets had the same discounts as yours. That’s highly local.

Same price in Salem OR and 300 miles away in Medford



I’ve always sought out the unloved cuts of meat not only because of price, but often they are tastier than the more popular cuts. But lately the prices of chicken and meat in general have gone completely whacko. Chicken wings became a bar snack because they were throw away cheap. But I just saw wings at Safeway for $5.29/lb, compared to thighs which were $4.99/lb. How does that make any sense?

Same with oxtails. Just saw them for $10.99/lb. Used to be almost free. Beef bones at Safeway are $4.99/lb. Bones!

I wonder how much of that price difference per pound is due to the different value of the various ‘cuts’ (is that the right word for chicken?) from the bird, and how much of it is due to rising costs of meat processing? The breast is typically the priciest part of the chicken, and you can’t eat bones, so it’s not surprising that a whole chicken has a lower price per pound than boneless/skinless breasts - but I dimly recall that poultry processing facilities have been a bottleneck of late…


I buy 2 whole chickens every week…

I come close to that as well, but at Costco where I pay $4.99 for the whole COOKED large chicken. Much easier to debone a cooked bird than cut up a raw one. I have a large scar on my wrist to prove that, from the early days when eating was a luxury and cutting up a whole chicken routine. (Hint: move the knife away from the body, not towards it, when trying to hack through a particularly tough piece.) After taking the meat off the rotisserie for various uses, I keep the chicken bones in the freezer until I have enough to make broth. Can’t buy better.

I do the same thing with a spiral cut ham. Great sandwich meat at very low prices. Package up the extra and freeze for later.


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Whole chickens have always been a good deal, my preferred way to buy them. Boneless, skinless breasts are an abomination. Comes out too dry and cooking with the bone in adds flavor.

If you want say, four breasts it is cheaper to buy two whole chickens. If you just want uniform chicken pieces, skin-on, bone-in thighs are the way to go. My preferred way is to roast the whole chicken. I typically remove the backbone (spatchcock) which helps the chicken cook more evenly. The backbone goes in the freezer and gets made into stock. If I don’t want the whole chicken, it is pretty quick and easy to break it down into parts.

If you just want uniform chicken pieces, skin-on, bone-in thighs are the way to go.

That’s my chicken of choice - cooked up a whole mess of miso-honey chicken thighs last night, now in the fridge and freezer.


OK, so here’s a few really good chicken recipes from around the world:



Adobo - Chicken Cooked In Soy Sauce & Vinegar (This is from the Philippines, not Mexico - same name, different recipe)
Holland America Line Chef

8 chicken thighs or drumsticks, skinless and trimmed of fat
1 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar (see tip below for options)
3-6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
1/2 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, crushed lightly
1 cup water
3/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons vegetable oil Chopped scallions, for garnish
Accompaniment: Cooked white rice or couscous

In a large kettle combine the chicken, vinegar, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, and 1 cup water, cover and marinate refrigerated for 20 minutes to an hour (up to 3 hours is OK)

Bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer it, covered, for 20 minutes. Add the soy sauce and simmer the mixture, covered, for 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken with tongs to a plate and boil the liquid for 10 minutes. Let the sauce cool and remove the bay leaves.

In a large skillet heat the oil over high heat until it is hot but not smoking and in it sauté the chicken, patted dry, in batches, turning it, for 5 minutes, or until it is browned well. Transfer the chicken to a rimmed platter, pour the sauce, heated, over it, and serve the chicken with the rice (or couscous).

Tip: For a more authentic version, use Sukang Maasim (Cane Vinegar found in Asian markets). White vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and rice vinegar work well too.

Cape Malay Chicken Curry (South African)
Milk Street Cookbook – Fedela Tolker

1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry
2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
1 4-ounce chunk fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 5 pieces
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 serrano chilies, stemmed and halved lengthwise
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons lemon juice (1 lemon), plus lemon wedges, to serve
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, torn
Cooked basmati or jasmine rice, to serve

Build the flavor base of the Cape Malay curry on lightly browned onions, using whole fennel seed and cumin seed, allowing them to add both texture and flavor. While the original recipe broke down a whole chicken for her dish, the ease of boneless, skinless thighs (which stay moister and taste richer than chicken breasts) changed the choice…

SEASON THE CHICKEN AND SUBMERGE: In a bowl, mix the fennel, cumin, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and the turmeric. Use 1 tablespoon of the mixture to season the chicken.

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the oil until just smoking. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the ginger, garlic and chilies, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the broth, tomatoes, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and remaining spice mixture, then submerge the chicken thighs.

Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 25 minutes, adjusting the heat to maintain a steady but gentle simmer. Also, don’t cut the potatoes smaller than 1-inch chunks; smaller pieces will overcook and break apart. Stir in the potatoes, cover and return to a simmer. Cook until the the chicken and potatoes are tender, another 12 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a large plate. Remove and discard the ginger, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and chili halves, then continue to simmer over medium until the liquid is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, using two forks, pull the chicken into bite-size pieces, then return to the pot and stir to combine, taking care not to break up the potatoes. (Don’t pull the chicken into fine shreds after simmering—the pieces should be bite-size).

Stir in the lemon juice, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with mint. Serve with rice and lemon wedges.

Savory Moroccan Chicken Stew
10 Servings


4 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, halved
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
3 medium yellow onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
28 oz diced tomatoes, with their juices
8 oz canned chickpeas, drained
1 quart chicken stock
3 Tablespoon cilantro, roughly chopped
1 Tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cinnamon sticks (or 1 teaspoon ground)
1 large pinch saffron (optional)
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¾ cup golden raisins
½ cup dried apricots, halved
½ cup prunes (dried plums), halved
½ lemon, juiced (as an alternate to juice and zest, ½ preserved lemon, julienned)
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. In a large pot, brown the chicken in batches over high heat. Set aside.

In the same pot, add the onions and sauté until translucent making sure to scrape up any remaining drippings from the chicken. Add the garlic, turmeric, ginger, cumin, nutmeg, saffron and cinnamon sticks. Once the spices are fully incorporated and aromatic, return the chicken to the pot along with the tomatoes, chickpeas, and enough stock to submerge all contents of the stew (may be less than 1 quart). Cook uncovered for one hour.

TIP: You can make the stew up until this point and then refrigerate it overnight. Just reheat an hour or so before your guests arrive and continue with the remaining ingredients.

Place the raisins, prunes and apricots in a shallow bowl and cover with warm water. Let sit for 20 minutes until re-hydrated and plump. Add to the pot with 2 Tablespoon of the cilantro and the juice of half a lemon. Simmer for 10 more minutes.

Garnish with a sprig or two of cilantro and some remaining apricot halves and serve over couscous.
NOTE: to make the veggie version, substitute 3-4 diced zucchinis or squash for the chicken and double the chickpeas.

Chicken Pastilla With Cinnamon And Almonds
Zahav-Michael Solomonov

Moroccan meat pie with Spanish origins. It is usually made as one large dish, but I like to make pastille “cigars” for perfect individually portioned, handheld mezze.

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus plenty more for brushing the phyllo
½ onion, thinly sliced
½ bulb fennel, thinly sliced
1 pound ground chicken
Kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon orange blossom water (see sidebar)
6 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
1 large egg, beaten
½ cup sliced almonds
Confectioners’ sugar, for serving

Warm the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and fennel and cook, stirring
occasionally, until the vegetables have softened but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add
the chicken and continue cooking, stirring to break up the meat, until it begins to brown,
about 8 minutes. Add several big pinches of salt, the cinnamon, and orange blossom
water. Stir to combine.

Brush one sheet of phyllo generously with oil and layer 2 more sheets on top, brushing
each generously with oil. (Keep the rest of the phyllo under a damp towel to prevent it
from drying out.) Cut the 3 stacked sheets in half lengthwise, putting one half aside. With
a short side facing you, top the stacked phyllo with half of the chicken mixture, leaving a
small margin all around all the sides. Roll into a cigar shape, cutting the phyllo once it’s
overlapped a bit (you should get 3 cigars from each half of the phyllo stack). Repeat with
the other half of the phyllo stack, then repeat the process with the remaining 3 sheets
phyllo to make the rest of the cigars.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Arrange the cigars on a baking sheet and brush them with
the beaten egg. Top with the sliced almonds. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
Dust the cigars with confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately.

Makes 12 pastilla “cigars”


and you can’t eat bones,

Great for making soup! Practically nothing is thrown away.

The Captain

<at Costco where I pay $4.99 for the whole COOKED large chicken. >

I used to buy these until I realized that they were pumped full of salt water solution. Also, they weigh 3 pounds each. I buy 5 - 6 pound chickens.


I dimly recall that poultry processing facilities have been a bottleneck of late…

In my local supermarket, it’s rare to have your choice of chicken pieces available. There will be breasts but no thighs. Next visit it’s drumsticks and whole organic. After that might be only the family packs. Whole chickens are pretty rare to find in stock.

It might also be my preferred shopping time - evenings, usually after 7 pm.

I’d like to get whole chickens. I need more practice on cutting chickens into pieces. Plus I like making my own chicken stock from the skin and bones. That’s a whole lot cheaper than buying stock.


Also, they weigh 3 pounds each. I buy 5 - 6 pound chickens.

A minimum of 3 lbs each, and that is after cooking. I have used my kitchen scale to see how much meat I get from deboning, and it is over 3 lbs ignoring the bones. There is a range of size of the rotisserie and it is not hard to get a larger one if you look at your options.

Best sandwich meat ever, not to mention a go to last minute meal component.


Plus I like making my own chicken stock from the skin and bones. That’s a whole lot cheaper than buying stock.

Not really sure about that when you include the cost of fuel, but it sure is much tastier than what you can purchase in the store. I do a 24 hour simmer, however, resulting in bone broth that is so thick coming out of the fridge than a spoon stuck into the middle stands up straight. A mug of that is a meal all in itself, and so good for the joints.

who does liquid fasts from time to time with bone broth as a key component

I hadn’t bought and cooked a whole chicken since I left Venezuela in April 2019. This thread reminded me to do so. The food at my Mom’s retirement home was awful so I got into the habit of making chicken soup on a weekly basis. On Saturday’s I would pick up my Mom, drive her around town and bring her home for a home cooked dinner. She took the rest of the chicken soup to the retirement home to enjoy during the rest of the week. My cousin told me the secret of the perfect matzo balls, use more chicken fat!

A US president was invited to a state dinner in Jerusalem that featured matzo ball soup. He was delighted and asked what they did with the rest of the matzo.

Back in Venezuela I would accumulate chicken wings in the freezer until I had enough for a wing dinner. Cut up the whole chicken, freeze what you won’t consume just now, and make chicken soup with the bones, skin, and all the trimmings. Skim off the fat and use it for making matzo balls or whatever else you are cooking.

During the war in Hungary my aunt would gift us kids with bread spread with chicken fat, such a delicacy!

I have all the ingredients, tomorrow is chicken cooking day!

The Captain

A 1.438 Kgs whole chicken (no livers, no giblets), 3.16 pounds cost 4.16 €


Not really sure about that when you include the cost of fuel, but it sure is much tastier than what you can purchase in the store. I do a 24 hour simmer,

Yeah - I’m not that committed. I give it a hour or two to simmer and that’s it. That’s why I call it stock and not broth. I did try a longer simmer once, and simmered the water completely away after about 5 hours.

With stock about $2.50 for 8 cups in the store, I think I’m getting my money’s worth out of just a couple hours of simmering away. And I get to add the spices and seasonings I want instead of the really bland stuff out of the store.


< I do a 24 hour simmer, however, resulting in bone broth >

I do bone broth in the pressure cooker. 20 minutes results in similar thick broth. The bones become brittle because the collagen is dissolved out.


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does anyone do it in a crock pot?

I do bone broth in the pressure cooker.

Great idea. Been trying to figure out how to use that Instapot. Such a small container though. I tend to do 6-8 carcasses at one time in a large stock pot.

Thanks for the suggestion.


does anyone do it,(broth,) in a crock pot?

Sure, but again I prefer a larger volume at one time. I then put it in smaller containers for the freezer so I am not dealing with a large amount of broth at once.

who grew up in a family of 8 and was taught to cook in volume