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Monday Mission: Use the Whole Thing

Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to use the whole thing this week.

Whether you are eating turkey, ham, or ground beef, you’re likely going to consume something from an animal that is a part of a whole. Where are the other parts? Are they being utilized or wasted?

Roast Chicken and spices

It’s a shame that things like bones, organs, fat, and feet are seen as the waste products of an animal and that traditional bone broth, rendering lard and tallow, and using chicken feet is seen as “throwback” and something only for the Amish or radical homesteaders.

I know I’m generalizing – I know there are gajillions of households in America where homemade stock is the norm and not the exception – but I don’t think pop culture and modern media would ever see it that way, and so it’s presented to our youth as “outdated” and “quaint.”

Looking down at a stock pot filled with water, meat, and veggies

It should be “sustenance” and “nourishment” and darn it all, just being a good steward!

When One Person’s Waste is the Other’s Normal

I threw away some pumpkin seeds last week because I was roasting one pie pumpkin and felt overwhelmed with my lack of time that day (they don’t take long, really, maybe 10 minutes total, but 10 is greater than zero, and it was one of those days). I would have saved them in the fridge for another day but we kind of have a lot of pumpkin seeds around already.

crispy pumpkin seeds nourishing traditions

I felt so guilty! Yet at the same time, I was laughing because I know that the action that just about killed me, tossing the guts of a pumpkin, is a normal action happening every day across the country about which most Americans wouldn’t give a second thought.

In the same way, I just split a quarter cow with my cousin for the first time, and I asked for everything. What I’m going to do with 10 pounds of liver, I do not know, but hopefully I’ll figure it out. I don’t think I’ll be able to do this quite enough to get rid of it all. (I’m collecting ideas for all the parts on my new “What to do with a quarter cow (beef recipes)” pin board.)

I’ve made a gorgeous batch of tallow already – and why I haven’t been frying potatoes in it thrice weekly I don’t know! (Note to self: get on that, Katie.) I barely had room in the freezers (all 3 of them) for all the parts, because the organs (heart and tongue too), suet (what the fat is called before it’s tallow), and bones just about doubled the space I’d need!

I made some bone broth immediately, and I got two batches out of the bones and seriously started running out of room in the freezer, and I had some other things I had to make for dinners and couldn’t do enough soup to keep up either.

With two more big bags of bones in the freezer, was it time to throw them away? No way! I called my neighbor and sent the pot down to her, and she made two batches (does anyone else find that their very lowest burner still boils it at a strong rolling boil all day long? She needs a better system for next time, maybe one of those burner thingys that keeps a really low simmer?).

I’ve read that folks have done a DOZEN successive batches of beef stock, and when I told my neighbor, she passed the bones on to another friend who’s on a really tight budget.

Bones: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Ok, that’s a little yucky, but let’s get over it America!

Use the whole animal.

Chicken Feet - preparing for stock

I saw a comment from a vegetarian on someone else’s social media outlet discussing the importance of pastured animals recently, and it said something like this:

Oh, so if the animal lived a happy life, it’s okay to kill and eat it?!?!?”

Well, yeah. Actually, that’s exactly it.

And if you’re willing to respect the animal, the earth, and most of all the God who created that animal with amazing nourishment for your body, and use the whole thing without wasting, and if the animal was raised without toxins that hurt the environment, then it’s done well.

We pray and thank God before our meals for the many blessings He gives us. We probably don’t think of Adam and Eve and the Fall with every meal, but their first sin is omnipresent in our world, affecting us whether we like it or not.

The world was not created with a “kill or get killed” mentality.

Man’s sin brought that upon us.

It’s unfortunate that our bodies are now dependent on animal products for our best health, because it is kind of gross. It would be easier in a lot of ways to never have to deal with blood on our hands (and most of us don’t anyway with all the processing our food goes through before it hits our kitchens). But that’s not the way things played out.

If we’re going to eat meat, we might as well do it right, be good stewards, and learn to use the whole thing.

The Challenge: Use it All

Roast Chicken and spices (1) (475x317)

I’m preaching to the choir for many of you, I know – you probably regularly buy whole chickens and know what to do with all the parts. I still challenge you to take one more step, find one more part to use, or one new recipe that will help your family truly enjoy “it all.”

Tomorrow I’m sharing a reader FAQ about all those recipes for boneless, skinless chicken breasts. (Raise your hand if you have some that you  miss now that you’re doing whole birds much of the time!).

It’s a common real foodie complaint – what do I do with all those great recipes?? Can I convert them to use the whole bird? (YES is the answer, details right here: How to Adapt Chicken Breast Recipes to Use Whole Chickens)

Here are some resources for today to help you use bones, organs, and shredded poultry that is not “boneless skinless chicken breasts,” whether that poultry is chicken or turkey (hint, hint for Thursday, hint, hint).

homemade healthy chicken stock with gelatin

How to Make Homemade Chicken (or Turkey) Stock

congealed stock

How to Make Bone Broth with Serious Gel

No more lunchmeat - choose real food

Easy Oven Roasted Chicken

How to Use Chicken Feet in Stock

How to Prepare Chicken Feet for Stock

Gluten-Free Farmhouse Chicken on a plate


Stovetop Stuffing Casserole (with no Stovetop!)

Honey Dijon Casserole and Easy Chicken (Turkey!) & Biscuits

Resources to Use Up the Whole Cow

Accept the challenge: What are you going to do this week to “one up” your chicken/turkey usage?

Need More Baby Steps?

Monday Missions Baby Steps Back to Basics

Here at Kitchen Stewardship, we’ve always been all about the baby steps. But if you’re just starting your real food and natural living journey, sifting through all that we’ve shared here over the years can be totally overwhelming.

That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and got them all spruced up to send to your inbox – once a week on Mondays, so you can learn to be a kitchen steward one baby step at a time, in a doable sequence.

Sign up to get weekly challenges and teaching on key topics like meal planning, homemade foods that save the budget (and don’t take too much time), what to cut out of your pantry, and more.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

23 thoughts on “Monday Mission: Use the Whole Thing”

  1. Am fairly new to your website and just came across this post. Beef liver! Would love to have that liver, and tongue and heart too. We feed our dog raw meaty bones – no veggies, no cooking. Her absolute favorite treat is beef liver in any form. She gets a small slice three times a week with her regular meal. For treats, small pieces, placed on a baking sheet, topped with a couple of spices, popped into the oven on low (hate the smell of cooking liver). Must be kept in fridge, and messy to handle, but she’l do anything for them. Great training treat. Takes a whole morning to cut up a 15 lb liver, but it’s worth it. So anyone with “innards” they decide they don’t want or can’t use – seek out a dog owner!

  2. I’ve found the pressure cooker (not the pressure canner) to be a wonderful resource for making bone broth! Uses less electricity than running the burner all day long, as well…

    Just throw the bones in with a few celery ends, a bit of onion, a chopped carrot or two, whatever you prefer to season with… a few glugs of Apple Cider Vinegar (I use Braggs) or kombucha vinegar you’ve grown yourself… pressure cook for about 25 minutes, let it cool on it’s own… man that’s some dense broth and sets up beautifully!! Of course you have to start with “real” chicken and not the CAFO stuff, which often will not even set up!! It sure is delicious!!

  3. I make dog food with beef liver. I cube it up (1/2″), fry it in a big electric pot, fill the pot with water and add rice and veggies to absorb the water. I also add olive oil and a bit of garlic….and my dog can’t seem to get enough of this.

  4. Great post! I went to your site knowing that come tomorrow or Thursday, I’d once again be looking at turkey giblets and saying “Now what?” Any ideas?

    And as we eat down our freezer, we still have beef heart and tongue waiting for use. Could you please share some recipes?

    Many thanks!

    1. Yes! I’m not sure why I didn’t include them in this post, duh. I’m updating now, but here’s what I do:

      http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2012/07/06/what-to-do-with-that-beef-heart-in-your-freezer-and-how-to-tell-your-husband/

      http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2011/05/05/how-to-eat-a-beef-tongue-and-what-not-to-say-to-your-husband/

      🙂 Katie

  5. I don’t know if this post is an encouragement or not for me tonight. I usually use all I can, as you do by making broth, soups and so on. But for some reason the past couple of weeks, I have been guilty of buying too many perishables and not using them before they spoil. I feel so guilty! just as you said about the pumpkin seeds. I at least get the waste into the compost or to the chickens. I feel somewhat better as I’ve just spent a little time chopping celery and carrots that were a little old and have them in the dehydrator to grind into broth powder. I try to be wise and healthy with our food, but some times I get busy with other things and get sucked into buying too much because of a good sale. I always enjoy your posts, Katie, and your genuinely honest spirit. Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Robin….At least you chopped them and dehydrated for a broth powder…sure beats throwing them out! I see a way to get some 11-16 year old hands busy in my house when a great buy on celery or carrots are running into ‘expiration dates’!
      Thanks for the inspiration!!

  6. After you make stock with the chicken bones, try throwing it all in the vitamix with a little broth and you can make a mousse which can then be used it meatloafs or other places to “hide” it. I’ve also been know to put it in the processor with seasonings for bone pate. My husband looked at me after taking a bite and he asked, “Is this bones?!” He knew I was up to something… 🙂

  7. Susan Alexander

    Alright, WHAT do you do with the innards? I finally finally got myself a pastured turkey (I usually buy conventional chicken and I know I shouldn’t eat the innards of those because that’s where the toxins go, right?). Help!

      1. Susan Alexander

        Ok, so you put it in your stock just like the bones/skin/etc? I’ve been saving most of the drippings for stock too – do you think that’s a good idea?

  8. “Tomorrow I’m sharing a reader FAQ about all those recipes for boneless, skinless chicken breasts. (Raise your hand if you have some that you miss now that you’re doing whole birds much of the time!). It’s a common real foodie complaint – what do I do with all those great recipes?? Can I convert them to use the whole bird? (YES is the answer, details in tomorrow’s post.)”

    AHHHHHHHH! I’m SO excited!!!!! Tomorrow can’t come soon enough!!!!!!! 🙂

  9. I only even buy whole chickens, we get them from a local farm. I cut off the breasts and use them in a dinner dish, simmer the whole carcass, pick off the meat for a dinner casserole, and simmer it for a week, taking out the broth as needed for soups and sauces, and adding in more water. After a week the bones pretty much crumble! I also buy chicken liver a feet from the farm (they sell them separately).

    We just bought a half cow and got the liver (it is huge!) and heart and bones. She gave me a bag of suet but it isn’t very big- she said grass fed cows don’t have much fat? It won’t last us long at all, a bit disappointing. How big was your bag, Katie? I have yet to render it- still suffering from a bit of morning sickness ;o)

  10. You can use liver like this:
    http://www.primallyinspired.com/friday-favorites-frozen-raw-liver-pills/

    I have about 7lbs of liver that I’m planning on doing this with. 🙂

  11. Love the bag of chicken feet! I have one in my freezer right now waiting for my next round of stock 🙂

  12. Katie, could you give me some tips on how to use beef suet (or make tallow)? I bought some on sale at one of our farm stands a few weeks ago, but it’s languishing in the freezer because I am not sure what to do with it!

    Your post comes in a timely manner, since we’ve been trying to save money (and be healthy) by buying and eating natural local meats, but we can’t afford the “luxury” cuts, so we have been experimenting with livers, beef tongues and pig hocks. With amazing results!!

    I made a Cuban Black Bean Soup with ham hocks last week and it was to die for, literally. I couldn’t stop eating it…. and it was so cheap to make!

    1. Becca,
      I think the only way to use suet (other than for the birds) is to make tallow – http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2012/02/how-to-render-beef-tallow.html – I used the slow cooker and it was a cinch. For once. Something easy! 😉

      Then use tallow for frying potatoes, making French fries (http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/11/13/recipe-connection-lazy-french-fries-or-potato-chips-in-beef-tallow-or-coconut-oil) or any sauteeing in a fry pan. 🙂 Katie

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