Sunday, May 4, 2008

Showing Chicken Who's in Charge

I don't know if you've heard, but groceries have gotten a teensy bit more expensive than they used to be. How much more expensive? So much more expensive that I'm not sure if we're even going to notice that I've gone back to work.

I've been poking around looking for cheap recipe ideas, but I must admit so far I'm not on fire with the idea of eating a bunch of peasant food just as the weather starts to get really hot around here. If you just can't get enough of cabbage, beans, and potatoes, though, I highly recommend that you check out the Recession Cuisine thread on Chowhound. Depending on your palate, it will either inspire you or turn your stomach.

As for me, I've got to find a way to muddle through with meat, at least until the weather cools off. With that in mind, I looked for the cheapest chicken I could find today at Publix. As the food media has been telling me, chicken legs are dirt cheap -- 49 cents a pound. I don't really like them, of course, but my kids do, and if I serve food I find unappetizing maybe I'll just fill up on salad, or better yet, water. It will be like Weight Watchers, only free.

But I wanted some white meat, as well. And so, for what I'm embarrassed to admit was the first time in my life, I bought a whole chicken and brought it home to cut up myself.

Now I know why the already cut-up kind costs more. CUTTING UP A CHICKEN IS DISGUSTING. It's slimy and germ-ridden and cold, and when knife cuts through bone, it sounds like ... well, like knife cutting through bone. Thank God orthopedic surgeons put you out before they get busy.

I'm quite a talented chef if I do say so myself, but I destroyed that chicken in an effort to get eight edible pieces and a back. Little pieces of raw chicken were flying, not to mention raw chicken fat -- quite simply the grossest substance I've ever touched. But I save about 50 cents a pound, by God. Of course if we all end up with food poisoning the four co-pays will be about 200 times that amount, but at least I tried.

Since that won't be the last chicken I cut up, fortunately I found this nifty instructional video on YouTube. (What's not on YouTube, by the way? Any day now I fear I will find that someone has videoed me squirming into my Spanx, set it to some sort of rap music about big booties, and uploaded it.)

This woman clearly makes that chicken her bitch, and I learned a lot watching her. My only suggestion is that you might want to turn the sound real low. Between the bone-sawing and the slimy-squirty sound , you will totally not be in the mood to eat anything but a nice dry saltine for about a week. And I'm not sure whether they're on sale.


Katherine said...

My mom showed me how to cut up a chicken when I was about 16. At least I convinced her that she didn't need to show me how to fix a chicken from live (she wanted to! ICK. Wringing the neck and plucking. OH NO, not ME!) I famously declared that I would be buying all my chicken neatly de-boned and de-skinned from the store. We actually did a study and determined that half the weight of chicken breasts were skin, fat, and bones - so if boneless is less than twice as much, I can buy it without guilt.

Mr Lady said...

You know, I know a LOT of people who are totally grossed out by carving meat. My husband lets me do the turkey every year...he can't even handle it COOKED. Frankly, it doesn't bother me one bit. I bet, once you get good at it, it won't bother you, either.

MommyTime said...

I love Katherine's math, and I didn't watch your video because I already know those sounds and don't particularly adore them. But I thank you for the reminder. sort of. :)

Betsy Bird said...

I'm totally with Katherine on the math. My first chicken may have been my last.