Monday, 16 March 2015

Recipe of the Month: Waste not want not! Turning the dregs of a chicken dinner into healthy dog food

It's that time again, 'Recipe of the Month', but this time I'm doing something a little different. I decided to share a new 'recipe' for your furry friends!

A chicken carcass... Ever wondered what to do with all that waste? I've tried boiling the carcass to make a stock in the past, but even then, there are a lot of bones which go to waste and the result is usually a little bland in my experience.

So I've been experimenting and I discovered that you can actually cook the entire chicken carcass and make it into a tasty treat for your dog (or cat, I'm sure they'd like it too!)

I began by putting the entire chicken carcass (with a bit of the less desirable chicken meat still in tact) into the slow cooker. I also added a little of the chicken skin for some extra flavour, but that can be omitted to make the dish healthier.

I then added filtered water, until the carcass was just covered and 2 tablespoons of malt vinegar. This is the important ingredient. I'm not entirely sure of the science behind it but the vinegar helps to break down the bones. I then turned the slow cooker to 'Low' and left it to work it's magic...

I began the cooking process at about 7pm on a Sunday after doing a roast dinner. I gave it a little stir at 7am Monday morning and was pleased to find the chicken was beginning to part from the carcass.

When I looked again at 7pm (after 24 hours of cooking) the chicken carcass had fully separated into individual bones and I could see some of the smaller bones and pieces of gristle beginning to dissolve.

After a total of approximately 36 hours in the slow cooker, (Tuesday morning) I could mash the large bones against the sides of the slow cooker with a fork. The below photo shows part of one of the larger bones, the marrow inside has turned very dark and the bone itself is quite soft.

At this point I tipped the entire mixture (including the liquid) into my food processor. In hindsight, I could have easily used a stick blender in the slow cooker and saved myself some washing up, but I wanted to make sure there were no bits as this was the first time making the concoction.

Once fully blended, the mixture begins to look like a puree, I scraped this into some plastic tubs to store in the fridge. The mix lasts just over a week in the fridge, (it may have lasted longer but I didn't want to risk it) so you may want to freeze some of the mixture and defrost it as and when required.

After spending time in the fridge, the mix hardens and becomes like a pate. Penny really enjoyed it mixed in with some of her dry food and also as a tasty 'dip' for her treats. (Gravy bones are good for this!)

So there you go, using every little bit of the chicken carcass! I couldn't believe how much goodness would have gone to waste. Also I'd just like to point out, I'm not veterinary or dietary trained, these are simply my own experiences. 

I asked Penny's lovely vet, Blue House Vets, if there were any issues and they are of the opinion that as long as you make sure there are definitely NO BONE SHARDS in the end product whatsoever, then it should be suitable. (I can't stress this enough, I'd hate for someone's best furry friend to fall ill from this!).

My husband has pointed out whether this is cost effective seeing as I used 36 hours worth of electricity to power the slow cooker, I'm not too sure about this, the slow cooker we have isn't that power hungry, but it could add up with the length of time. I think it's more important to know you're giving your pooch healthy, nutritious food though!

Drop me a comment if you try this for your furry friends, whether they love it as much as Penny or if you have any alternatives.

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