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What Can You Do with a Whole Chicken?

| October 4, 2013 | 10 Comments


So you have a whole chicken to cook and are not sure what to do with it…

I found myself in this situation earlier this week. We had a couple of whole chickens in the freezer and it was my job to figure out how to cook them. I came across a couple of delish (and pretty simple) dishes that are sure to please! I will share the recipes with you, but first I will address the job of cutting up a chicken.

I have to admit that I saw cutting up a whole chicken as a pretty scary job—one that I might leave to Papa. However, I figured it couldn’t be that difficult and was a skill I should learn. Google is a beautiful thing! You can learn how to do almost anything by performing a simple Google search. My hubby was able to find a video on how to dress a deer that he shot last year.

I came across a great video on You Tube, uploaded by Gourmet Magazine. Here is the link:

The magazine’s food editor, Ian Knauer, takes you through a 4 min video that demonstrates how to simply cut a whole chicken. He also points out that a whole chicken contains guidelines that you can follow to make cutting up the chicken easier. Before you start, you need the following tools: a sharp knife, cutting board and kitchen scissors. I found it handy to have these items at hand so you are not running around looking for them with chicken juice on your hands!

I often pull my weekly meals from some favorite cookbooks. The first book is from Chef Michael Smith.

The recipe I took from his book, ‘The Best of Chef at Home’, was Classic Chicken Stew.


Classic Chicken Stew


  • One 4lb (1.8kg) roasting chicken
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • ½ cup (125ml) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (500ml) of chicken broth
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • A handful of sliced mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) of minced fresh Thyme or Rosemary
  • 2 or 3 bay leaves
  • A sprinkle or two of sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup (125ml) of heavy cream (35%) or sour cream
  • 2 or 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup (250ml) of frozen peas


  1. Cut chicken into 10 pieces (2 thighs, 2 drums, 2 wings and 4 breast pieces)
  2. Place a large heavy saucepan over medium heat and toss in the butter. Add a single layer of chicken pieces and patiently brown them until they’re caramelized on all sides. Remove them from the pan and rest on a plate. Repeat with any remaining chicken. By cooking the chicken in batches you avoid cooling the pan below the heat needed for caramelization.
  3. When the chicken is browned, add the onions to the fat and juices remaining in the pan. Sauté until golden brown and caramelized. Add the garlic and sauté a few minutes longer. Stir in the flour and then whisk in the chicken broth. Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly until thickened.
  4. Add the vegetables, fresh herbs, bay leaves and reserved chicken and any juices from the resting plate. Season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking over medium heat until the stew returns to a simmer, then turn the heat down to low, just enough to maintain the simmer. Cover tightly and continue cooking for 30 minutes or so.
  5. Stir in the cream, green onions and peas. Taste and add additional salt and pepper, if desired. Serve immediately or refrigerate for 2 or 3 days, then reheat when needed.

This was a yummy dish, along the lines of Chicken A La King. My only recommendation would be to use boneless chicken breasts or thighs as dealing with the bones and skin was a bit tricky.

The next dish, involving cutting up a whole chicken, I took from a new favorite cookbook written by Deb Perelman titled,  ‘The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook’.

Deb Perelman’s recipe, Harvest Roast Chicken with Grapes, Olives and Rosemary, is an easy recipe that is sure to impress (good recipe to pull out when important folks come to dinner!).

Harvest Roast Chicken with Grapes, Olives and Rosemary


  • 3 pounds(1 1/3kg) chicken parts (thighs, drumsticks, and/or breasts) with skin and bones
  • Table salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Olive oil
  • 1 cup seedless (90grams) grapes
  • 1 cup (130grams) pitted Kalamata olives
  • 2 small shallots, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup (120ml) dry white wine
  • ½ cup (120ml) chicken broth
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh Rosemary


  1. Preheat your oven 450 degrees with a rack in middle. Pat chicken dry, and season generously with salt and pepper. Heat oil in an ovenproof 12 inch heavy skillet (use a cast-iron skillet if you’ve got one) over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Working in two batches, brown the chicken, skin side down first and turning them over once, about 5 min per batch. As Deb Perlman suggests, take care in this step, not moving the chicken until the skin releases itself and has a nice bronze on it.
  2. Return the pieces to the pan, skin side up, and surround the pieces with grapes, olives and shallots. Roast the chicken in the oven until it has just cooked through and the juices run clear, about 20 min. Transfer the chicken, grapes and olives to a platter, then add wine and chicken broth to the pan juices in skillet. Bring liquid to a boil, scraping up any brown bits, until it has reduced by half, for 2 to 3 minutes. Strain sauce, if desired, then pour it over the chicken. Garnish with rosemary and see how long it takes guests to offer to slurp the sauce up with a spoon.

Once you have the hang of cutting up a whole chicken, this recipe is easy and impressive! It has made its way to our regular rota of recipes. The interesting combination of grapes and olives may raise some eyebrows, but is sure to please!

Photo credit: hermitsmoores / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA


Category: Food, Friday Food Frenzy, Main Dishes, Recipes, Weekly Themes

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Comments (10)

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  1. Cheryl (@loucheryl) says:

    Thanks for the awesome ideas for cooking whole chickens!

  2. Julie Hutson says:

    Great information and recipes! Now I don’t have to steer clear of whole chickens.

  3. Tara Gauthier says:

    I have never cut up a chicken before. My favorite thing to do with a whole chicken is wrap potatoes and carrots in separate tinfoil pouches. Place those on bottom of crock pot with butter inside. Place seasoned chicken on top and cook on low!

  4. Judy C (Cowan) says:

    Thanks for the information. Usually with a whole chicken I roast it, use the leftover cooked meat for casseroles and then boil the bones for soup/broth.

  5. Rick F says:

    These look really good.

  6. kathy downey says:

    yum,this looks so good

  7. kathy downey says:

    Wow,these sure are some awesome ideas for cooking whole chickens!

  8. kathy downey says:

    I just wanted to pop-in and say we loved the Harvest Roast Chicken with Grapes, Olives and Rosemary it was delicious

  9. kathy downey says:

    Cant wait to try these recipes

  10. Elizabeth Matthiesen says:

    Great recipes. One of my daughters used to always cut up a chicken (cheapest way to buy it) as she was on her own. I marvelled at how quick and neatly she did it too. Taught her old mum something but I still can’t do it as well as she does 🙂

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