Budget Cooking 101: Using the Whole Chicken

October 12th, 2008 by katie

Since this blog is now all Fall, all the time, I wanted to share one of my favorite fall comforts. In the Chaos household fall and winter bring casseroles, soups, and stews-a surprising number of which contain chicken. To be prepared for these comforts, I often buy whole chickens at the grocery store for making stock and procuring meat for casseroles, pot pies, etc… A great side effect of poaching chicken meat is delicious homemade stock ready to be turned into soup or frozen and used later. I know making your own chicken stock sounds a little time intensive but really it’s not. I simply put some vegetables and a chicken in a stock pot and cover with water, then simmer for several hours or until the chicken is fully cooked and falling apart. Remove the meat and refrigerate and continue simmering the chicken parts for several more hours. Then strain and refrigerate it overnight. In the morning the fat will just lift off the top and you have a great low sodium, low fat chicken stock.

Chicken Stock

makes approx 8 cups, prep 10 min, cook time 6-8 hours
  • 1 whole chicken, plus any chicken parts you have: extra meat, bones, giblets, etc…
  • carrots
  • onions
  • celery
  • parsley, other herbs
  • peppercorns
  • water to cover
  1. Rinse your chicken and place it in the pot. Or if you are like me forget to thaw it and put the frozen chicken in the pot.
  2. Thoroughly wash all your vegetables and greens (carrot tops, celery leaves, etc). Roughly chop, break, or quarter the vegetables and throw them in the pot. Add spices and herbs.
  3. Cover with water. Turn heat to medium and allow to come to a light simmer.
  4. Try not to get a rolling boil going on or your broth with develop a gross white foam, but since this will inevitably happen just skim the foam off every 30 min or hour until it goes away.
  5. After several hours your chicken will be fully cooked and a lot of the fat will be rendered, making it easy to separate the meat from the refuse.
  6. Remove your chicken and allow to cool enough to handle.
  7. Remove the meat and refrigerate for another use. Add all of the chicken refuse-giblets, skin and bones-back to the pot.
  8. Continue simmering for several more hours until slightly reduced. Strain broth into a bowl and discard the solids.
  9. Separate your broth into several covered containers so it will chill faster and refrigerate.
  10. The next day your broth will have a fat layer at the top that you can peel off before using.

This seems like a lot of steps, but really the chicken stock makes itself. I usually just throw everything in the pot and ignore it while wandering around the house doing various chores. You can also put it all in a large crock pot and it will simmer while you are at work. I suck at roasting a chicken so I prefer this method for making cooked chicken for pot pies and casseroles. The meat is easy to identify and separates easily for chopping or shredding later. Plus there is nothing more soothing to a stuffy head or sore throat than a steaming pot of chicken on the stove top.

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Posted in Budget, Condiments, Easy

7 Responses

  1. Rayrena

    You are so right on! Homemade chicken stock is worth its weight in gold. I can roast a chicken either to save my life.

    My husband gave me a pressure cooker a couple years a go and it can cook a chicken in about 45 minutes. I take off the meat, throw the carcass back in for another 30-60 minutes. All the cartilage dissolves making it thick and rich. Plus, I only add about 1/2 cup of water at the beginning of cooking the chicken so the stock doesn’t need to be reduced.

    If there’s any way in the budget to finagle a pressure cooker…

  2. Stephen

    For years I have looked for a base or paste that would replace freshly made chicken stock.. none have even come close! good down to the basics post! nothin like the real thing.. AND of course cause it makes dishes sing with richness, complexity and good chicken flavor.

  3. noble pig

    I know I need to start doing this. Thanks for the push.

  4. Tony

    wow, and to think all these years I’ve been wasting freezer space by storing my stock in small tupperwares 🙂 zip-locks sound like a great idea!

  5. Melissa

    I love making my own stock, even if it’s just to cook with. Using homemade for risotto is so much richer than canned, ya know? Need to do this again soon for matzo ball soup. Yum.

    I couldn’t get to anything on your site yesterday. Glad to see that wasn’t permanent!

  6. Memoria

    Isn’t this chicken broth, since the bones are not involved? Forgive me, if I’m wrong.

    Thanks for the recipe!

    Chicken stock has a richer feel than broth due to the gelatin cooking out of the chicken bones. I usually use a roasting chicken (bones and meat). Otherwise you can also make stock by using leftover chicken carcasses or wing tips or whatever chicken parts you have around. – Katie

  7. Ash

    My wife and I save any chicken bones from dishes we make normally and freeze them all together in a ziploc bag. We also save any vegetable bits chopped off during food prep (onion ends/skins, celery butts/leaves, carrot tips, etc) and freeze them – that way you don’t have to “waste” vegetables. Then, when we have enough we make the stock as described above, put it 1 cup at a time in ziploc bags and freeze it until we need it. Easy, delicious, and way better than store bought!

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About chaos

cha·os -noun 1. a condition or place of great disorder or confusion. My chaotic kitchen is the result of three kids, two adults, dog, cat, and fish, a food obsession, a wine drinking hobby, and too few hours in the day. Between trying to feed a family of five healthy, happy meals, watching my weight, saving my pennies, and staying partially sane I have picked up a few tricks along the way. So here they are: the very best tips, tricks, and recipes from my chaotic kitchen-to yours!

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