Step 1: Buy on sale
We wait until whole chickens go on sale for $0.99 a pound and then buy 2 or 3. I only have a small freezer so I can't really stock up too much at a time, but go for it if you're blessed with a deep freeze!
Step 2: Roast or take apart?
My awesome friend's Erin and Alex (yes, the same ones) taught me how to take apart a whole chicken so you can freeze it in parts, and thus take up less freezer space. It is essentially cutting the raw bird into breasts, thighs/drumsticks, wings, and the rest (wing tips, skin, organs, and all other bones and cartilage) get stored in a stock bag.
Remember 1 bird = 1 batch of stock. Don't try and overstuff your bags!
I don't take it apart very often because I'm in love with doing this rotisserie chicken method.
Step 3: Chicken Dinner
My current favorite way is to make a pseudo-rotisserie chicken as a Sunday Chicken Dinner.
The image of the roast dinner is a remnant of our British founding. Our ancestors knew what they were doing, this process is fabulous for ensuring the most use out of each bird.
I use this recipe in my slow cooker. The Smoked Paprika is the secret, y'all. I use it in tons of things now (it rocks on Baba Ganoush, Polenta, Deviled Eggs, and in Blackening Spice Rub).
I add a rack of sorts of thickly cut onions, carrots, and potatoes for the whole bird to rest on. It cooks for 8 hours (aka all day) and it smells AMAZING!
When it's done I cut off the drum sticks, thighs, and wings and crisp them in the oven on broil. I also lift out the veggies with a slotted spoon, salt and pepper them, and broil them on high for about 15-20 minutes. DON'T THROW OUT THE JUICES AT THE BOTTOM! They will be used shortly.
Step 4: Pick the bones
Once the parts for the chicken dinner are in the oven, I pick all the remaining meat off the bones. That's all the breast meat and anything else that didn't make the initial cuts. I put this straight into a container to save and use throughout the week.
That is the shredded chicken for casseroles, pot pies, salads, and anything else I can dream up during the week.
Step 5: Refill the crockpot
Gather up all the bones, skin, and any other chicken parts left and throw them back in the crockpot with the juices from cooking your chicken. Add in the organs and other things that were inside your chicken when you got it.
Add in your mirepoix. These are your stock veggies. I like to save the potato and carrot peels from the veggies I used when roasting the chicken.
Here's my standard mirepoix:
- skin of 3 potatoes
- skin of 2 carrots
- 1 large carrot cut into 5-6 parts
- 1 large onion, skin removed, cut into quarters
- 2 whole garlic cloves, skin removed
- If I happen to have it, I'll add celery, leeks, or other onions. This uses up some of my sad veggies that are getting floppy.
I do NOT put in:
- Onion or garlic skins (it has a bitter taste)
- fresh Bay Leaves (leaves an aftertaste of Turpentine. Ask me how I know....)
Add in your herbs/spices. I do:
- A generous amount of Salt (almost 1/8 cup. Salt is an important part of this process so don't skimp on it!)
- About a tablespoon of Whole Peppercorns
- 2 dried Bay Leaves
- 3 Tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar (or 3 splashes - which is what I do). This helps get the good stuff out of those bones, which is what we're after!
Fill the whole thing with Water until completely full. This normally ends up being between 10-12 cups in my crockpot but will vary with the amount of mirepoix, size of chicken, etc.
Step 6: Set it to cook a lllloooooonnnnnggggg time
I normally set mine to cook between 12-16 hours on low. Low and slow is what gets you that rich, high quality stock. The important thing is at least overnight.
Step 7: Strain your stock
You've cooked it long, low, and slow now it's time to render your delicious stock! Turn off your slow cooker, take off the lid, and give it a stir. It's going to be REALLY hot so be careful.
I do two strains. For the first one I'm just try to get the big pieces out. I take a large colander, put it in one of my big soup pots, and start ladling. Because the liquid is so hot at this stage I don't try and pour the whole thing. Burn avoidance is good.
Now you have all the big pieces out and in your soup pot, it's time to strain again and into your jars!
I ladle the stock into a 2 cup pyrex then pour through a small strainer into a quart size mason jar.
|The one on the far left is huge! I love it for storing stock. It holds enough to stock to make a big pot of soup in one go.|
This process normally gives me 12-14 cups of high quality stock on the cheap. Since one quart of high quality stock goes for $6-$8 in my area, getting between 5-7 quarts of it from my cheap chicken is an awesome amount of savings!
Make sure you let it cool to almost room temperature before putting it in the fridge or you'll risk heating the rest of the food in your fridge.
As the stock cools, the fats will separate from the rest of the liquid and float to the top and form a solid seal. You can remove it very easily with a fork when you're ready to use your stock. I like to leave it on until I'm ready to use the stock since the fat forms a ready-made seal that keeps the stock fresher longer.
Hope y'all find this helpful! Let me know how it has gone when you've tried to make bone broth in the comments. Do you do something different?
Linking up with Moms the Word for Making Your Home Sing Monday.