Chicken Neck and Watermelon Rind Stew Recipe- Super Frugal, Paleo and GAPS Legal

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Sometimes you just get inspired by whatever random things are lying around your house, throwing them together in the hopes that you might make something tasty out of it. And sometimes you're in luck, because the food doesn't just come out passable, or even tasty, but absolutely delicious, enough so that you want to repeat it. But since you just threw it together the first time without a recipe, you really hope that when you make it a second time, this time recording exact amounts for the recipe, you're able to recreate that phenomenal taste.
And sometimes you get lucky, when the second batch tastes just as good as the first.

That is what happened today.

Last week I had a bunch of watermelon rind in my refrigerator, and not many other vegetables since I needed to go shopping. I had a few odds and ends- some mushrooms, a few soft tomatoes, a bit of celery, but that's about it. I also had defrosted a package of chicken necks that I'd bought at the grocery store for 65 cents a pound (in comparison, the next cheapest meat here is chicken wings, generally at $1.16 per pound) and wanted to use that as our protein. Chicken necks actually do have meat on them- in case you were wondering- you just need to cook it first to make it super soft before eating.
So, as I alluded to beforehand- I threw them together and made such a delicious stew for my family that I decided to recreate it today, also so we could enjoy another super frugal and tasty meal, and so that I would have a precise recipe to share on my blog with you. And again, it came out superb. (According to Mike it was "amazing, delicious, terrific.")

And for those of you on special diets- this is Paleo legal, and GAPS legal if you leave out the starch. And it is also allergy friendly. Did I mention super cheap?

Last week when I posted the picture of my lunch on Facebook, people wanted to know what watermelon rind actually tastes like, and how you use it. So basically, watermelon rind tastes pumpkiny- not exactly like it, but a similar flavor profile. I've made a Moroccan style watermelon rind salad that tastes similar to Moroccan carrot or pumpkin salad. It works similarly in recipes. I have to try a watermelon rind pie, like pumpkin pie. :-D That'll be interesting.
As to how to use it- you cut off the very thin outer dark green layer on your watermelon rind, and use the white/light green rind. Most recipes say to cut off any pink part of the watermelon rind, but I don't bother.

Chicken Neck and Watermelon Rind Stew Recipe- Super Frugal, Paleo and GAPS Legal

1 3/4 lbs chicken necks
5 cups watermelon rind
8-10 cups water
2-3 tsp salt
1/2 cup celery
4 tomatoes (4 cups tomatoes diced)
3 cups mushrooms chopped- one small box
1 medium onion
1 1/2-2 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoons dried parsley or 1/4 cup fresh (optional)
1/2 cup tapioca starch or potato starch (optional)
Black pepper to taste (optional)

1. I'm going to start off the instructions with a picture of chicken necks. Simply because people asked me if there is actually any meat on there. :-D There is. Can't you see? This is the package of chicken necks that I used for this recipe.

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2. Put your chicken necks and watermelon rinds into a pot with your 8-10 cups of water and your salt and bring it to a boil. I cooked mine in a pressure cooker for an hour. If you don't have a pressure cooker (you should get one; they save money! but I digress) you can cook this in a regular pot for 2-3 hours to make it fully soft and flavorful.

3. After the necks and watermelon rinds are fully soft, add everything else other than the starch and pepper, and cook for 15-20 minutes in the pressure cooker, or 30-40 minutes not in a pressure cooker.

4. Once everything is cooked, take out 1 cup of the broth and let it cool. Once cooled, mix in 1/2 cup potato starch or tapioca starch until fully dissolved, then pour it back into the pot, and cook until it thickens. If you don't mind a runny stew, or are on the GAPS diet, or just don't want to use the starch, just skip this step.

5. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste.


Have you ever cooked with watermelon rind? What have you made with watermelon rind? Does this look like something that you would make? Have you ever cooked chicken necks for dinner? If so, how did you make them?
What was the best recipe you came up with on a whim, just based on random items you had lying around your house?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. My dad made watermelon rind pickles that were great

  2. I have pickled watermelon rind but not cooked with it. What a great idea!

  3. Very interesting. I have never thought of cooking watermelon rind. What does it taste like when cooked? What flavor does it add to the stew?
    Chicken necks; we ate a lot of these when I was a kid. My mom had 8 kids and we were poor and often hungry. She was an incredible cook and could make wonderful things out of almost nothing. She also taught all 8 of us (2 girls and six boys) how to cook. There is a lot of tasty meat on chicken necks and it is a little bit of work to get it all out - - a relish fork works quite well for this. Very flavorful. I used to "dibs" the neck whenever she made chicken and it was there.

  4. We make a watermelon preserve in South Africa. You prick the rinds and soak overnight in lime water. The next day you boil in a sugar syrup until they are deep greenish yellow colour, crisp on the outside and juicy inside. Some ginger is usually added while cooking to flavour the syrup. If you cook them too long they become crystallised.

  5. Did I notice that you don't try to bone the chicken necks, you just cook the bones soft and eat them?

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