Eat More (Parts of the) Chicken!
When you see the “Eat Mor Chickn” ads for Chick-fil-A the cows are talking about white meat chicken, but I’m recommending something a little different. The fat-free 90s increased the popularity of white meat, and tasty sauces make wings sought out as well. Plenty of people like drumsticks, and thighs often come along for the ride. But what about the rest of the chicken? What do you do with the giblets, the feet, or the neck? After cooking up a batch of hearts this week I decided to share some ideas and recipes.
Why should you eat the unfamiliar parts of the chicken? Different parts of chicken have different nutritional as well as taste characteristics. The organs, for instance, have not only a stronger flavor but are also nutrient-dense. See Paleo Leap’s article for more information. Feet have a high gelatin content which makes them a texture issue for some people to eat, but helps your bone broth gel well.
Another reason to eat the giblets is they are often free! It’s pretty common for them to be included with a whole bird that you purchase. Turning them down is turning down free food. Even if they do not come with your bird they are usually inexpensive to purchase.
My biggest piece of advice for cooking with unfamiliar chicken parts is to start small and try different recipes. Personally, I’ve grown to like chicken livers, but I have yet to learn to like the taste of feet. However, one farmer I talked to found the opposite to be true!
Chicken livers are often made into pate, but I prefer them quickly fried in bacon fat and eaten hot. I usually fry the heart with them as well, but this week I had a whole bag of hearts to cook. I loosely followed a recipe that included onions, mushrooms, and broth and it made quite the tasty meal. Chicken giblets are not a pretty thing to photograph, but I did my best!
Chicken Hearts with Onions
Adapted from Chicken Hearts with Onions and Mushrooms
1 ½ lbs chicken hearts, sliced in half
1 onion, sliced
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Saute the onions in butter until the onions begin to soften. Salt to taste.
Stir in the hearts and salt. Saute for 3 minutes.
Add the broth, stir, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Season to taste, garnish with parsley, and serve.
Option: add 1 cup sliced mushrooms with the onion.