Chicken Butchery: What to do with the Leftover Carcass?

[NOTE: That title makes this post look a lot more intimidating than it is.  As I’ve mentioned previously, “butchering” is not the same as “slaughtering.”  Not that I’m anti-the latter.  I just haven’t done it yet.  In butchering chickens I’m referring to the process of cutting them up into parts for cooking.  The “carcass” I’m speaking of is the extra bits that you might otherwise discard when butchering the chicken.  In any event, this post is not nearly so hardcore as the title might infer.  My apologies.]

So you’ve butchered your chicken(s), saving a good deal of money over buying individual parts, and made something delicious out of the meaty sections (maybe gluten-free fried chicken?).  Now you’ve got this leftover backbone, random giblets, wingtips and trimmed fat or skin just lying around (or hopefully in bag in your freezer).  That means it’s time to make stock.

The main thing to remember when making chicken stock is that while this will add flavor to later meals, it shouldn’t be the flavor in those meals.  Meaning, your chicken stock shouldn’t over-power the other ingredients in whatever you add it to.  By itself it should be relatively mild in taste.  It should also be somewhat neutral so you can use it in as many different dishes as possible.  You aren’t making chicken stock to drink by itself (I hope).  So when you finish making the stock, don’t be disappointed when the taste is pretty lack-luster on its own.  That is by design.  The stock will simply enhance the richness and depth of flavor of whatever you make from it.  And it will do so to a far greater degree than store-bought stock – no contest.

I use a four-quart Crockpot for making my stock.  In my experience I’ve found this to be about the perfect size for making stock out of the leftovers of one chicken.

Ingredient list:

-The leftovers of one butchered chicken;

-Carrots, two medium, cut in half;

-Onions, two medium, quartered;

-Scallions, one or two stalks, roughly chopped;

-Garlic, one clove, crushed;

-Fresh Parsley, one cup;

-Salt, 1-TBS;

-Pepper, 1-tsp; and

-Water to fill Crockpot.

It’s really nothing special up there, just fresh, simple ingredients.  Either cook it in the crockpot on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3 hours.

When it’s done, use a slotted spoon to remove the big chicken parts and cooked vegetables. Sit a wire-mesh strainer on top of a large bowl and pour the remaining liquid through it to strain the rest of the random bits out.*

*Of course, the proper way to do this is let it cool, then use a slotted spoon to skim off the fat that has risen to the top. That’s all well and good, but I rarely do it.  I’ll skim what I can while it’s still warm, but the waiting-to-cool portion is just a bridge too far for my (short) patience.  At this point I’ve already sat with a wonderfully smelling pot of chicken stock for the whole day, and it is time to add it to some soon-to-be-amazing dish.  It’s going to be good.  So what if there’s a little extra fat in it?

Once you’ve got the stock down to just the liquid, I either put it in one-gallon freezer bags for long-term storage in the freezer, or pour it into several mason jars if I think I might use it that same week.

You’ll probably end up with a little over three quarts of chicken stock.  Since you’ve already used the chicken parts for an amazing meal or two, this stock has basically already paid for itself.

I drink beer when I cook. And I don't skim the fat off my chicken stock. Sue me.
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  1. Good idea to make the stock in a crock pot. The temp needs to stay low, so it doesn’t boil rapidly. So far I’ve had no use for my crock pot—I’ll try this!

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