While experts argue about whether goat or pork is the most consumed meat in the world, statistics from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations still highlight the popularity of chicken. Here in the U.S., we’ve got restaurants that are solely based on sales of chicken and, according to Farmer’s Trend Market Sales, sales of chicken were up 4% in 2017.
Chicken breast has often been suggested as part of a healthful diet because it’s a lean protein choice that’s easy to prepare. While skinless chicken breast is popular, you may be throwing the baby out with the bathwater by not buying the whole bird. Here are a few reasons why…
- Cost: Chicken breast can cost anywhere from $2.99 per pound to $8.99 per pound for local and organic. A whole chicken may run as little as $1.49 per pound on sale to $3.99 per pound at most groceries.
- Versatility: There are lots of recipes that you can make with a whole chicken. Chicken thighs are great baked or grilled, while chicken breast is often used for chicken salad or sandwiches. You can also take all the meat off the bones as soon as you’ve cooked the chicken. Then shred the meat and store it in the fridge for a few days (longer in the freezer) to have ingredients ready for your next few meals.
- Convenience: A rotisserie chicken is a great option for people with no time to cook or little interest in working in the kitchen. Most chickens cost less per pound when you buy them already prepared and there’s often a variety of flavor profiles on offer as well. If you’d prefer to cook the chicken yourself, it’s still super convenient to cook the whole bird. An entire chicken can be cooked in a crock pot by seasoning the cavity and placing the whole thing in the pot on low — no liquid required. Or you can roast it in the oven.
- Leftovers: When you purchase a full chicken, you’re typically going to have leftovers to use in other dishes. Try chicken tacos, chicken casserole, chicken stir fry or add diced chicken to a salad. Even the carcass can be used to make chicken stock.
- Taste: There’s something to be said about chicken that is still attached to the bone. It tends to be juicier and more flavorful than separated chicken parts that have been cooked off the bone. Chefs note that the bones insulate the meat, which slows the cooking time and helps retain moisture.
By Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD
PDF Handout: Whole Chicken Handout
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.