I thought it might be helpful to start a space to share ideas on often overlooked cuts or items on the specials page that can level up meal planning and cooking. I’ll share one of my favorites to start:
Chicken backs are pretty reliable on the specials page, are very affordable, and don’t take long to cook. I stuff them with carrots and onions and roast at 350 for ~30 minutes. The backs are pretty meaty so you can pull off more than enough for a couple nights of tacos, stir fry, or anything where you need shredded chicken.
After that, throw the backs and any other bits you’re not brave enough to eat into a crock pot with some water and let it sit for 4-5 hours on low. You can either freeze this for some nutritious broth, or throw the chicken back in with some beans, diced tomato, and corn chips to make tortilla soup
Very interesting, I haven’t tried cooking chicken backs or broth before. Broth especially is a skill I want to pickup. I’ve been doing a lot of braising with beef shanks recently and always feel like I’m missing out on using some of the bones and leftover bits for something tasty.
I’d really like to try making beef tongue tacos - something I’ve heard mentioned at the warehouse before. Seems super easy. When in doubt, slow cook it
Here is a recipe I found from All Recipes, but have not yet tried:
- 1 beef tongue
- ½ white onion, sliced
- 5 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 bay leaf
- salt to taste
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 5 Roma tomatoes
- 5 serrano peppers
- salt to taste
- ½ onion, diced
- 2 (10 ounce) packages corn tortillas
Place the beef tongue in a slow cooker and cover with water. Add the onion slices, garlic, and bay leaf. Season with salt. Cover and cook on Low overnight or 8 hours. Remove the tongue and shred the meat into strands.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the tomatoes and peppers in the hot oil until softened on all sides. Remove the tomatoes and peppers in a blender, keeping the oil on the heat; season with salt. Blend briefly until still slightly chunky. Cook the diced onion in the skillet until translucent; stir in the tomato mixture. Cook another 5 to 6 minutes. Build the tacos by placing shredded tongue meat into a tortilla and spooning salsa over the meat.
I used some chicken backs to made my first batch of stock recently and it’s so much better than store-bought.
I didn’t follow a strict recipe. I just froze veggie scraps, chicken bones and other unused bits as they were “available”.
When I had enough to fill up a stock pot, I covered them with water, brought everything up to a boil, then turned it down let it simmer for 6 hours or so. I think I put some fresh herbs in there and an extra carrot and a celery stalk.
I used a fine mesh strainer and some cheesecloth to filter out the solids, then divided it into 6-8 gallon freezer bags, each one frozen “flat” for easy thawing later.
Homemade stock is the best! It always makes more than I need immediately, so I have two different preserving methods I use, depending on what I have available.
Freezing: after the broth is strained and cooled, skin off the fat and pour into the heavy freezer-safe bags. Leave about 3" headroom to allow for freezing expansion and lay flat to save space. The reusable silicone bags also work well for this, just be sure they’re sealed very well.
Jars: after straining, pour the broth directly into cleaned and sanitized canning jars. Allow it to settle and the fat to rise as it chills in the refrigerator. As long as least 1 inch of fat floats to the top (with Waden chicken this should happen easily) it will harden and seal the jar! Close lid as usual and store for up to 6 months in the fridge. When you’re ready to use it, spoon out the fat (use it to fry potatoes!) and use the unsealed jar within a day or two.
Now I’m excited for cooler weather and soup season!
The fat cap is a good tip! I usually scrape it out, but definitely will have to try letting it sit. Another one of my favs is the stuffed pork belly. Definitely a dish you want to share with people but it’s basically 0 effort and is very popular.
One of my favorite hidden gems on the specials page is bacon ends! They are super affordable and made from the same bacon we know and love. You’ll get a mix of strips/chunks from the processing of the regular bacon, and they are great for putting on pizzas, on breakfast sandwiches or burgers, or dicing into baked beans, chili, or chowder
Actually, I prefer the chicken necks you have, instead of the backs. The necks really seem to have a lot of meat on them and they make great Fricassee and stock.
Welcome to the forums @mwk! I had to google “Fricassee”
My list of culinary things to try this year keeps growing…
I need to pickup bacon ends - I do a fair bit of homemade pizza. Maybe even nice for a bacon mac & cheese?
I also used the chicken backs for bone broth for the dogs. 24 hours in the crockpot. They go crazy for it. I’ve done both chicken backs and necks, and the backs worked the best for my purpose. Broke down nicely with plenty of gelatin .
Leaf lard processing was a fun day. I portioned it in small amounts and it lasts forever in the freezer. Great for frying at high temperatures due to the high smoke point.
@ViviDee sounds like you have some very lucky, well loved dogs . Do you freeze the broth and give it to them as cubes, or just let them drink it?
The silicone mats for leaf fat are genius. I am definitely guilty of setting off the smoking alarm to get a nice crisp on my dinner!
There are lots of goodies in the specials offers for pups. The marrow bones, raw food, bones to make broth… I [they] love all the options .
They get it like kibble soup. I bought a bunch of reusable 16oz soup containers and freeze the broth into that. We just take one out of the freezer to defrost the day before we run out and pour from the container per meal. Very simple. They get broth with every kibble meal (because one dog is super picky, really ), so we go through like 1-2/week. Ice cubes for a summer treat sounds like a great idea tho!
Agreed the silicone mats are brilliant. Thank you for sharing @ViviDee! I’m feeling inspired to give this a try.
As long as we are talking food for the dogs, we buy the chicken hearts and make dog food with them. They are relatively inexpensive and the dogs love them. We just boil them and then put in the food processor with some veggies and some brown rice or oatmeal. And we save the stock/cooking water and moisten the food with it. Our dogs love it.
Wow! I had no idea about that kind of fridge storage! Thanks for the tip!
Added a dedicated thread for pup chat:
Walden Fluffy Friend Tips! (Dogs, Cats, and more)
Fluffy friend photos highly encouraged.
I LOVE beef tongue, but I cook it in the Pressure Cooker, like my Mom always did. 40 minutes on full pressure and it’s nice and tender.
I love keeping veggie scraps for stock! I freeze onion peels and ends, carrot peels, and other scraps to throw into the stock. My tip for more flavorful stock is to roast veggies and bones in a 475 degree oven until really brown. Then pour into the pot you’ll be using to make stock, and be sure to scrape off all the browned bits on the pan and get it in there too! The depth of flavor from roasting makes a big difference