What to expect when buying "minimally processed" fresh chicken breast in bulk through the co-op
Y'all know we have crazy good deals on crazy good quality meats and foods.
And if you have been with us long, you will know that one of the "favorited" items is the 40lb case of boneless, skinless, natural, cage-free chicken breast (free of steroids, antibiotics and no added hormones).
It's basically the best chicken breast on the market aside from buying certified organic or raising your own.
We offer our chicken in several different forms and types, but the majority "flock" (see what I did there?) to the fresh, minimally processed 40lb case.
As such, it is a GREAT product. So it is juicy and a bit slimy. Raw chicken is honestly one of the most unappetizing food experiences in it's raw form.
Cooked chicken is amazing, healthy, versatile and everything in between.
But Raw is Blah!
However, It is important to us that you get chicken that is as close a backyard experience as possible and thus we bring it in in the bulk packaging with minimal processing, saving you the most money and giving you a chance to finish the processing yourself and package how you would like (canned, frozen, freezer meals, cooked, shredded, diced, whatever your fancy).
I do not like dealing with raw chicken, but I have personally purchased chicken this way for 11 years. This has been the primary and only way I have bought chicken and so I have grown accustomed to what is expected, but I realize that not everyone is and would probably appreciate a quick tutorial on what to expect when you open your chicken box!
What does minimally processed mean?
THIS minimally processed chicken is hand trimmed from start to the minimum finish. That means that the skin and bones have been removed, but the breasts are still butterflied (what's that?!? We will get to that next) and may still have some cartilage and minimum bones (they try to remove all) and some fats still attached. So you have to do the deeper trimming.
They are doing the minimal amount in processing and it is all done by hand.
Here's a cartilage piece example of what you can expect in some of the breasts that will need to be cut out when you are preparing your chicken at home.
Ok, so now next question...what does Butterflied Breasts mean?
Well, in case you didn't know...chickens have 2 breasts 🤪 and there is a breast bone that connects them, and they will cut that out during the first level minimal processing stage, but it still leaves them butterflied with a softer cartilage strip connecting them. I personally cut out that center cartilage and cut them apart at the same time. Some people will freeze and cook them with that together still.
Here's what that looks like (the pile above is chicken I am dicing into homemade grilled and seasoned nuggets for the freezer - a family fav around here):
Finally, the last thing to expect is that there will be some fats to trim. Some people like to keep this for broth or keep it attached, some like to trim it. But expect to have some fats to deal with.
That looks like this:
With this extra trimming, you will be left with a few pounds of trimmings in a 40lb box depending on how much you trim off. The trimmings make great broth as an FYI!
Now the "can happen on occasion but not often" things you may come across.
Like I said, I have been buying chicken this way for 11 years. I get a case a few times per year.
The three above issues I will encounter in every box (not every breast).
However, there are a few scenarios that do happen that I have seen every once in a while.
1. Feathers. It happens. Feathers are crazy and can get everywhere - like a glitter bomb. I have seen a few in boxes on occasion. It reminds me that is is fresh from the farm. But when you are used to getting chicken in it's multiple processes and long supply chain and frozen, defrosted and then sold as fresh in the store, feathers are that reminder as weird as it is.
2. More bones. Humans are doing the first level of trimming, so besides the cartilage bones, I have occasionally found other bones that were missed during the processing process, but it is rare. And I just simply cut them out.
3. Bruising. I will get what looks like a bruise on the chicken. This can happen for a number of reasons, like hitting a blood vessel before fully bleeding out, or if a bone breaks before it is cut off or a bone broke right before it was slaughtered. That happens. Because we are dealing with real food and not fake or perfect, bruising can happen many different ways, but it is still fine to eat and would be a waste to not. It just doesn't look as appetizing.
Here's the truth for me.
For years, I could not even handle a raw whole chicken. It would gross me out so badly. I could barely handle breasts. But when I started buying fresh from the source, I realized it was such a much better quality and it saved me so much money, so I have dealt with it since and find this is much better to put this on a plate in the end.
So it is all worth it!
In the end, this is a crazy amazing way to purchase chicken that you are getting super fresh! Like just a few days from being processed.
It really doesn't get better than this in terms of pricing, freshness, quality and more!
And...if you don't want to deal with any of the above, our meat cutters will take care of all of it for you in our prepped breast box.
They take your box of fresh chicken into our USDA certified meat cutting room and will trim it, split the breasts, cut out cartilage and more fats and vacuum seal it in a 2-breast pack so you end up with about 22 packs of 2-breast packs. They will then deep freeze it and when you get it, all you have to do is put it in your freezer!