This Professional Butcher Gets Multiple Meals From One Whole Chicken — Here's How

The new year will bring big changes to meat prices. Move aside red meat enthusiasts — it’s time for poultry lovers to have their day in the sun. A recent RestaurantDive.com report revealed that chicken prices are expected to decrease in 2023. This good news gets even better when you shop smarter and cook wisely with the chicken you buy. If you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck, simply buy the whole bird; it provides every cut of chicken — from drumsticks to breasts — and you can get several meals out of it. Sounds too good to be true? We spoke to a professional butcher, whose tips and recipes allow her to cook a range of meals using just one whole chicken.

The Magic of Whole Chicken

Ellie Logan, a butcher at Walden Local Meat's Butcher Shop in Boston's South End, praises chicken for its versatility. "The options for cooking with it are endless: Roast it, throw it in the slow cooker, or boil the meat on the stovetop," she tells First for Women. "From the cooked bird, I’ll get chicken bone broth I can sip (hello collagen), chicken soup, chicken salad, and some leftover chicken to finish off salads or make tacos. Eat your heart out, boneless chicken breasts."

Getting several meals from one bird is easy for Logan, since she uses a 4- to 5-pound chicken. First, she boils the chicken until it’s tender before letting the meat cool. Afterwards, she uses the shredded chicken, scraps, and broth to make a variety of recipes. Note: If you're feeding a large family, consider cooking two 4- to 5-pound chickens in separate batches to yield more meat, broth, and scraps. For maximum freshness, keep your cooked chicken in the fridge for up to four days and store chicken broth in the freezer for no more than three months.

Start with the following four recipes from Logan if you're looking to make a whole chicken stretch throughout the week. Here are all the details in her own words.

1. Boiled Whole Chicken

Ingredients:

4- to 5-pound whole chicken, cleaned

Tools:

  • Large stockpot

  • Tongs

  • Chef’s knife

  • Fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth

  • Mason jars, deli cups, any freezer-safe containers that are ideal for holding broth or liquids

  • Cutting board

  • Heavy bottom pot

  • Measuring cup

  • 2 medium-sized bowls

Directions:

  1. Put the chicken in a stock pot, add cool water until bird is covered by about one inch water.

  2. Bring water to boil, skim any scum floats to top. Let boil about 5 minutes, then bring down to simmer. Keep skimming any scum that accumulates throughout simmering process. Let simmer about 45 minutes or until bird reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

  3. Remove bird but don’t discard broth that’s in pot.

Where the Magic Begins

Once the whole chicken is cool enough to handle, this is where you can get creative. I shred the meat and keep anything else in a separate bowl (such as the skin, bones, and cartilage). Now I’ve got a bowl of shredded chicken and a bowl of scraps to use in the following recipes.

2. Chicken Bone Broth

Ingredients:

  • Chicken scraps (bones, skin, and cartilage)

  • One head of garlic, halved

  • One large onion, halved

  • Approximately 20 whole black peppercorns

  • 2 bay leaves

  • Celery tops and carrot scraps

Directions:

  • Put all ingredients back into pot with chicken broth and bring to boil; then, simmer about 4 hours.

  • Once cooled, remove all scraps and strain broth using cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve.

3. Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups chicken bone broth (from the batch you just made)

  • 2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil

  • 2 carrots, diced

  • 2 celery stalks, diced

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • Salt and cracked black pepper

Instructions:

  1. In heavy bottom pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add carrots and celery. Sauté about 4 to 5 minutes, until slightly softened. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about one minute.

  2. Pour in chicken broth and bring to boil. Turn down to simmer for about 5 minutes, then remove from heat and let cool.

Notes:

  • Once cooled, I like to pour the soup in mason jars for single-serving portions I can pull as needed.

  • Before freezing, I’ll plop in a small handful of the shredded chicken into each jar.

  • When a cold comes knocking, I’ll thaw out the soup and boil egg noodles in a separate pot so they don’t absorb all of the liquid.

4. My Mom’s Chicken Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups shredded chicken

  • Two celery stalks, one finely diced, one roughly chopped

  • 1 medium onion (any kind), diced

  • 1 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoning salt

  • Cracked black pepper, to taste

  • ¾ cup mayonnaise (see note below)

  • 1 tablespoon capers

Directions:

  1. Mix together all ingredients except chicken. Once combined, add chicken.

  2. Refrigerate at least one hour, then it’s ready to serve. Spread on toast for sandwiches, smear on crackers, or eat the chicken salad right out of container.

Notes from Mama Logan:

  • Shred the chicken instead of cubing it, as the mayo mixture adheres to the meat much better this way.

  • Don't use low-calorie mayonnaise, because it’ll get watery after a day. Duke's Mayonnaise is my preferred choice — but any other full-fat mayo will do.