nstead of preparing a single recipe, this approach champions one ingredient and aims to maximize every ounce of it.
While it might seem counterintuitive to start with a single ingredient without having a specific recipe in mind, breaking down whole ingredients is actually a very easy way to unprocess your diet and enjoy fresh ingredients in their prime. Especially when something is in season, there’s more than one way to utilize the ingredients in all different kinds of ways.
Went overboard on garlic scapes? Not to worry, you can infuse oil, pickle the bulbs, or spin up a quick pesto in no time. Worried your fresh strawberries are doomed to be forgotten in the fridge? Top them as soon as possible and then allocate the trimmed berries to the fridge for snacking, the freezer for smoothies or quick-baked crumbles. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can go so far as to channel your inner homesteader and preserve that sweet summer flavour into a shelf-stable jam.
When it comes to proteins, using ingredients in more than one way is also much more cost effective and environmentally-friendly than buying butchered meats on styrofoam trays or prepared foods in plastic containers.
Not to mention, the advance prep work helps to eliminate food waste and ensure that come mealtime, most of the heavy lifting is done. Think of it as being your own sous chef, and setting yourself up with all the mise en place before the future-you even knows what you’re craving.
All that said, it can be hard to know where to start. A good place to draw inspiration from is the seasonal bounty at your local farmers’ market or by scouring your fridge for neglected produce. If even those things seem overwhelming, turn to your local butcher and buy a family-sized roast, then challenge yourself to get creative Iron Chef-style.
Need a heartier example? Follow this flowchart to master a classic whole chicken. You can thank us later when you’re enjoying the delicious fruits of your labour.
I BOUGHT A WHOLE CHICKEN!
A whole chicken can yield broth, poached meat, and garnishes that can be assembled into complete meals with minimal add-ons. Not to mention the byproducts include pantry staples like schmaltz and stock that will enrich even the simplest of dishes.
Step 1: Trim off the chicken skins and reserve.
Step 2: Breakdown the bird into pieces that will fit in your largest stockpot. Fear not if your butchering skills don’t quite hack it (pun intended), this bird doesn’t need to look pretty.
WHAT TO DO WITH THE MEAT AND BONES?
Good quality chicken stock is the foundation for endless possibilities: sauces, soups, stocks, etc. We suggest you make yours unseasoned so it doesn’t contribute extra salt when incorporated into future foods. Just season to taste, as needed.
Step 1: In a large stockpot, add raw, skinless chicken pieces along with a few roughly chopped carrots and celery stalks, whole golden onions (leave the skins on for colour, or cheat your way to golden soup bliss with a few threads of saffron). Cover the contents of the pot with cold water and bring to a boil.
Step 2: Reduce heat to a steady simmer, skimming off any scum that floats to the top. After 45 minutes, remove meat and bones from stock and use a fork to shred poached meat off bones. Return bones to soup stock and simmer for another 45 minutes before straining through a cheesecloth.
WHAT TO DO WITH CHICKEN SKINS?
The poor man's duck fat, schmaltz is the Yiddish word for rendered chicken fat.
Tip: Freeze raw chicken skins to use at a later time. In fact, schmaltz-making is most successful when produced in volume.
Step 1: To make schmaltz, carefully heat chicken skins in a deep pan over medium-high heat until the fat turns to liquid and skins shrink down into dark crispy bits.
Step 2: Remove crispy chicken skins from hot oil with a slotted metal spoon and place onto a paper towel to absorb excess grease.
YOU MADE CHICKEN STOCK!
You know, even Anthony Bourdain used to add a few bouillon cubes to his soup stock in culinary school? Your soup is better than that. Portion this liquid deliciousness into smaller containers for freezing to keep on hand for future use.
Make chicken soup into a meal with add-ons like noodles, rice, wontons, or matzoh balls—made with schmaltz of course!
COOK WITH IT!
DIY your own restaurant-worthy risotto, level-up store-bought gravy, skip the seasoning packet in ramen, or incorporate it into any slow cooker recipe like stew or chili.
YOU MADE POACHED CHICKEN!
Poached chicken is a versatile, ready-to-eat protein and it can be stored refrigerated for up to a week.
Enjoy poached chicken on top of salads (i.e Cobb Salad, or Waldorf Salad), mix with curry, mayo and grapes for a satisfying sandwich filling, or use it in tacos, quesadillas, or even casserole-style bakes.
YOU MADE SCHMALTZ!
Store it in a glass jar in your fridge where it will keep almost indefinitely. Expect that it will solidify like butter and use it in place of cooking oil in all your favourite savoury dishes.
COOK WITH IT!
Schmaltz is practically liquid gold and can be used to confit garlic, or when roasting root vegetables. It’s also the secret ingredient for making killer matzoh balls—just follow the instructions on the back of a box of matzoh meal but substitute the vegetable oil for a rich chicken flavour.
YOU MADE CRISPY CHICKEN SKINS!
They might be a byproduct of schmaltz-making, but crispy chicken skins are delicious, and bacon-like.
Season them lightly and eat ASAP. They can be used as a garnish, in lieu of bacon bits to add a crunchy component to caesar salads and loaded baked potatoes.