Monday, January 21, 2013

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast for .99/lb

This is the first of many planned cooking posts in the newest section of my blog, "The Farmhouse Skillet."  Thank you to Jodi M. for coming up with the name, and to all the other Facebook fans for the creative suggestions you gave me.  I liked several of them, but in the end chose this one for more reasons than you probably care about so I'll spare ya the details and get straight to today's post.

Now, this isn't a recipe or even an actual "cooking" post, but we use a lot of chicken around The Farmhouse and I'll be sharing lots of chicken recipes.  So, I thought I'd share with you the cheapest, most frugal way to buy chicken and then what to do with it.

Boneless skinless chicken breast (will refer to this as BLSL chicken from here on out) is great for SO many recipes, but let's face it, convenience can be down right expensive.  The cheapest I've ever found BLSL chicken is on a mark down at Walmart for 1.38/lb.  That's a pretty good price and when I find it that low I stock up.  Otherwise, the absolute cheapest way to get BLSL chicken breast is to wait for split breasts to go on sale for .99/lb. (I price matched mine at Walmart.)  It requires a little more work from you, but in the end you'll have meat for at least 3 different kinds of meals.  It really is worth it.  So, watch your sale papers and when you find it for .99/lb, stock up.  Not just with what you'll need for that week, but if you have the freezer space stock up on what you think your family will eat over the next 4-6 weeks.  That's usually about the length of the sales cycles and you'll have plenty on hand until the next time it goes on sale again.

Ok, ready to get started?  
(Vegetarians, you might want to skip this post today.  It's about to get all carnivorous up in here!)  

This is what you're going to start with.  Do NOT be intimidated by this hunk of meat.  With a little practice you can do this and after a few times you'll be thinking you should have been a butcher.  The first time or two I tried this I had NO idea what I was doing and I pretty much just hacked them up, but after awhile I got the hang of it and if you take it step by step it's fairly simple to do.  Just make sure you have a good sharp knife (or even a good pair of kitchen shears).  This will prove difficult if you have a dull knife.

First things first, remove the skin.  Start with the tip of the breast and grab a handful of the skin and lift it away from the breast meat.  Use the tip of your knife to carefully separate the membranes from the meat.

Work your way around all the edges on top of the breast.

Once you get to the top of the breast, just cut the skin off and pitch it.  Or, if you have a dog, toss it to them for a special treat.  Raw meat doesn't hurt them in the least.  They're dogs.

After you cut the skin off, this is what you'll have.

Now you can start to see the outline of the breast forming (drawn in dark red).

Next, you're going to flip it over and begin to separate the breast from the carcass. Use the tip of your knife and make short small cuts all along this bone/cartilage. 

I've outlined it in bright red here.  Make shallow cuts all along this line and then go back and make deeper cuts as needed.  Just don't whack it with deep cuts right of the bat or you might ruin the tender hiding underneath.

As you start to separate the breast from the bone you'll start to see the chicken tender emerge.  See it there at the tip of my knife?  That's why you don't want to make deep cuts, you don't want to ruin that.

Finish separating the breast from the carcass on this one side only, we'll call it the "right" side just to keep things simple.

Once you get it separated you'll find that sweet piece of tender.  Again, using the tip of your knife carefully lift it, starting from the bottom tip, and separate it from the carcass.

Now you have a nice chicken tender.

Next up, you're going to separate the "left" side of the breast from the carcass the same way, using small shallow cuts and slowly working your way deeper.  In the picture above I've separated the sides, but it's still attached at the top.

Now I've cut it all the way off, but a bit of gristly tendon is left (above my thumb).  
Just slice that off using shallow cuts (the gristle, not your thumb).

Now that you've got the breast and the tender off, you're left with the carcass.  DO NOT throw this away!!  It still has plenty of good, useable meat left on it.  Throw 2 or 3 of these in a deep pot, cover with water, add some chicken bouillon, plenty of spices to taste, and simmer them for 45 minutes.  Pick the meat off the bone and add to the broth and now you've got a good base for homemade chicken noodle soup, chicken vegetable soup, chicken n' dumplin's, or whatever kind of soup you like!

So, after a little bit of invested time and effort you end up with meat for at least 3 different kinds of meals.  Carcass - for soups/stews, BLSL breast - for just about anything, and Chicken tenders - homemade tenders/stir fry/or just about anything really.  All for only .99/lb.  

Wrap 'em up good and store in your freezer until needed.  I double bag 3 carcasses together for soups. I lump the tenders together and write on the outside of the package how many are there.  That way if I don't have enough for a meal that week, as I get more I'll know how many I have and can make a meal once I get enough.  The breasts I wrap individually in plastic wrap and then put 8-10 in a ziplock bag and freeze them that way.  Not only does it make it much easier to access a specific amount needed for a recipe, it also helps them to thaw much faster when they're individual.

Good homemade food on a budget is quite achievable.  

You don't have to have a big fancy kitchen.  We used to live in a tiny little ranch house that used to be a hunting cabin and my kitchen literally had about a foot of counter space, but I made it work.  
(You can see more about that house here.)

 You don't have to have culinary training.  
Most of what I know I've learned through trial and error.  Don't be afraid to just jump in and try something.  Even if it's a flop (I've had plenty of those) at least you'll know what to try different the next time.

Three spices that I use a lot and I recommend that you buy are: seasoned salt, Old Bay (found at almost any grocery store in the spices aisle, name brand only, the generic stuff is just not the same), and Everglades Seasoning.  Everglades is made and sold only in Florida, but you can order it online {HERE}.  I highly recommend it!  I use it A LOT and I don't know what to tell you to replace it with if you don't have it.

So, get your spices bought, get stocked up on some cheap chicken, and get ready to learn some good ol' Southern, down home country cookin'!  By the way, chicken thighs and drumsticks routinely go on sale for .99/lb as well...stock up!  You'll need 'em.  

Next up from The Farmhouse Skillet you're going to learn the art of fried chicken!


If you're in need of a good knife set this is the one I have made by Case (made in the USA!).  
They are top quality and well worth the price.


Another good option is Chicago Cutlery.  I had a few pieces of these before I got my Case set and they worked great.  Lasted for 10 years with no problems, and they have good reviews.


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  1. Good post. Never been to Florida thus never heard of "Everglades Seasoning" sounds kinda fishy ;)

    I had to check out your post about your former kitchen. Tiny yes, but you did such an awesome job of making it cozy. Hope you get back to your country soon. I understand :)


  2. I needed to thank you for this good read!! I certainly loved every bit of it. I have you saved as a favorite to check out new stuff you post…

  3. Now I know exactly what is in those bags of chicken I always buy! LOL!
    I will definitely hang onto this info, as I'm kind of wimpy and hate cutting up meat. :-) I was thrilled to get boneless skinless breasts for $1.66 at Meijer last week, but those sales are way too few and far between. I'm looking forward to the fried chicken post...yours is amazing!

  4. As a Case knife collector the first thing I noticed was the Case knife you were using! I've never had the chance to use one of their kitchen knives, but I'm sure they are just as great as their pocket knives. Definitely on my wish list for the future :-)

  5. I hate cutting up chicken, but since I'm retired I may have to get more frugal and begin doing it myself. A good set of knifes will certainly make the job easier. I use Old Bay Seasoning all the time. What type of flavor does the Everglade seasoning have?

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my bedroom updating. I hope you'll come by for another visit!

  6. Great post!!!! Another flavor aid that you need in your pantry is Cavendar's Greek Seasoning!! Has garlic and black pepper in it along with other goodies!
    Blessings to you,


Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I love hearing from you!

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