In my last post, about my recent grocery shopping trip, I'd mentioned that I was looking to buy meat, and saw that the cheapest meat to buy was chicken necks at 50 cents a pound, and the next cheapest meat was chicken wings at $1.94 per pound, so I stocked up on a bunch of chicken necks, which I plan on using as our protein for quite a few meals, especially since it is so cheap.
However, when I posted about that, I got some interesting reactions. Among them was someone insisting that it doesn't matter how cheap chicken necks are, they aren't actually cheap if you consider how much meat is on them, which this person was insisting was barely anything, that they're mostly bone.
Now don't get me wrong, I know there is a lot of bones in chicken necks. But I also know that there is a lot of bones in every single type of poultry out there, other than breast meat or organ meat, and that people have these misconceptions about what is "all bones" and what is not. Like people think that chicken wings are "all bones" but thighs and drumsticks are not, etc... but I put that to the test already 5 years ago, when I did my breakdown and calculated the true price of meat per pound once you factored in the bones. And I discovered, shockingly, that chicken wings were 49% meat, drumsticks 51% meat, and thighs 53%, really negligible differences.
But that isn't what this post is about.
It's about chicken necks.
Which are 37.5% meat. 11.5% less than wings, which is a difference, yes, but not significantly so. Especially if you consider the fact that some people don't eat chicken skin (I do, and even have some great chicken skin recipes), in which case they're 35.5% meat, which is less meat than chicken necks.
But lets assume that you do eat the skin. Because we do.
Let's compare how much I'd be paying per pound of meat for wings vs necks.
According to my calculations, to figure out the true price of wings, you multiply the price per pound by 2.03 to get the price per pound of meat. Based on the prices I saw in the store, the $1.94 per pound wings are really $3.94 per pound.
And to figure out the true price of necks, you multiply the price per pound by 2.66 to get the price per pound of meat. In which case, it would be $1.33, which means that even discounting the bones, you're paying 2.96 times the price for wings vs necks.
Ok, but sometimes I find wings cheaper. The average decent price I find for wings are $1.28 per pound, which means that their true price is $2.61, still much higher than the price of necks.
When I find wings on tremendous sale, sometimes I can find them for $1.03 and I think once I saw them for $0.77 per pound. Respectively, for the meat those are $2.09 and $1.57 per pound of meat.
So, even at the rock bottom prices for wings, they still are more expensive than chicken neck meat.
The cheapest "straight meat" I can get, with no bones, is chicken gizzards, at $1.29 per pound. When I can actually find them. Once cooked though, they lose a lot of their weight, and to find out their true price per pound you have to multiply that by 1.49, which works out to be $1.93 per pound of cooked meat.
In short, chicken necks at the price I bought them are the absolutely cheapest type of meat per pound, by a long shot.
Well worth it.
I gotta go back to the store and stock up- the 20 lbs of chicken necks I got aren't enough, now that I realized just how dirt cheap they are, via writing up this post!
Ok, so, on to the recipe!
Or rather, almost.
I was trying to figure out what to do with the chicken necks. It is just starting to be a bit cooler here now, so just the start of soup weather, but I live diversifying my meals, and didn't only want to serve chicken neck soup meal after meal after meal, since soup is the standard thing to do with chicken necks.
Then, of course there's stews, and I made some really delicious chicken neck and watermelon rind stew this past summer which was the bomb!
However, sometimes you just want something that doesn't require a bowl to eat it. I wanted to know if it was possible to make some chicken necks that could be eaten on a plate together with the rest of your meal, and googling helped me come across a recipe for braised chicken necks, Indian style, but the problem was that the recipe that kept on coming up was in video format, without an ingredient list written out, and from what I could piece together, the recipe called for jeera seeds and dhania seeds, which I had no idea what they were, so I couldn't do that recipe. (Well, then I found out that jeera is cumin, and dhania is coriander, so mystery solved.)
So I decided to use a similar cooking method, braising, but making my own spice mix for it. I tried figuring out whether this spice mix is better labeled as curried or simply Middle Eastern style, but decided that the flavor reminded me most of Middle Eastern cooking (it tastes similar to baharat, but not exactly).
It truly came out delicious.
I made 3.25 lbs worth of chicken necks- feel free to use less if you don't want to make a large amount, and then just reduce the spices accordingly.
~3.25 lbs chicken necks
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon turmeric
1-2 teaspoons salt
1/2-2/3 cup oil (any is fine, but I used a mix of coconut oil and homemade rendered chicken fat)
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1. Chop the onion.
2. Mix all the ingredients together with the necks, and let marinate for 30 minutes.
3. Put in a pan- I used my cast iron dutch oven- and put it on a medium-high heat until it starts sizzling a bit.
4. Mix it around a bit, then cook for a few minutes on a medium-high heat.
5. Lower the flame to low, cover, and let cook for 30-40 minutes more or until it looks fully softened and the meat comes off easily when you try to remove it from the bones.
P.S. Even after removing the meat from the bones, there still will be a decent amount left on the bones- that is the nature of necks- (and no, I wasn't counting that meat when I was calculating the price per pound of meat), so I suggest you keep the necks and boil them up again to make an absolutely delicious soup.
Note- if you're not a fan of these flavors, feel free to use any spice mix you want on your chicken necks. It's the process, more than the actual spices, that make a difference for this recipe.
Have you ever cooked chicken necks before? What is your favorite way to make them? Do you feel like they're a frugal meal or that they're a waste because "there isn't much meat on there anyhow"? Do you have a favorite chicken neck recipe to share?
Does this look like a recipe you'd try?