Sunday, July 10, 2011

How to Make the Most of a Roasted Chicken, Including a New Use for the Bones

One of my family's favorite meals is roasted chicken. Where I live, it is a real challenge to purchase chicken that has been raised humanely and healthily without spending loads of money.  Consequently, we don't eat chicken very often and when we do, I like to make the most of it.

Prep for Making Stock
When I prep the bird for cooking early in the day, I like to prep for making stock. I pull out the slow cooker and throw in the veggies (one onion, 2-3 carrots, and 1-2 celery stalks), filtered water, and splash of vinegar. This way all I have to do after dinner is throw in the remnants from picking the carcass (bones, juices, and chewy bits).

Pick the Carcass
After everyone has eaten their fill of roasted chicken, I bring the chicken carcass to the table and pick the meat off the bones.  The bones, juices, and chewy bits go straight into the slow cooker for making stock. The meat gets stored in a glass container in the fridge to be used for another meal such as pizza, soup, or lettuce wraps. If I have any on-hand, I also add some chicken feet to the stockpot.
Rewards From Picking the Carcass a 2nd Time
Cook Stock and Pick the Carcass Again
I simmer the chicken stock for 12-18 hours.  When that is done, I pick the carcass all over again.  By picking the carcass a second time, you can make the most of the chicken.  There is quite a large amount of meat, skin, and connective tissue that was too tough to eat before making stock, but these parts are wonderfully tender after being simmered in the stock.

Don't Toss Those Bones Just Yet!
After simmering for many hours, the chicken bones get soft.  The small rib bones can be sprinkled with salt and eaten (my daughter especially loves these; obviously you should make sure they are soft before giving these to your kids).  The larger bones are soft on the ends, so I crumble these directly into the bowl with the meat, skin, and connective tissues from the 2nd carcass-picking. 

Use Stock Veggies, Meat, and Bone Bits for a Bowl of Soup Right Away
Additionally, I reserve the carrots and onions from the stockpot. These veggies combine with the meat and bone bits (from the 2nd carcass picking), a splash of fresh broth, and some salt and pepper to make a large bowl of soup (enough for 2-3 people). This soup can either be eaten right away, or stored in the fridge as an easy meal for later.

Preserve the Stock
I strain the remainder of the broth and pour it into glass containers.  I do not skim the fat off the stock, as it makes the stock more nourishing. Depending on my stock needs in the following few days, I store the stock in the fridge or freezer. 

Do you have any tips for making the most of a chicken?

This post is part of Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade, Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet, Real Food Wednesday with Kelly the Kitchen Kop and Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist!


Kelsey said...

Thanks for the post! My question is, I know that chicken stock is super nourishing and I need to be making more of it, but it's just my husband and I and we can't eat all that chicken that is leftover from making the stock! (even if we freeze it - it just piles up and we don't know what to do with all that chicken!) Anyone else have this problem, or have any ideas? It's actually not all that difficult for me to get good quality chickens, but I guess I'm not the world's biggest chicken fan and have a hard time eating enough of it, but I love the broth!

Sarah Smith said...

Oh wow, we have the opposite problem! We love chicken (maybe because we only eat it once or twice/month). Leftover chicken is great on pizza, on top of parmesan spinach bread, in a lettuce wrap with some honey mustard mayo and cheese, in a caesar salad, and of course it's good in soup too. We even like it straight from the fridge as a snack, or you could add some spices and turn it into fajitas or tacos (on a salad or in a lettuce wrap for grain-free).

Robin said...

Another suggestion. Get some chicken bones or feet from a quality butcher to make your stock if you can not eat all the chicken.

There is only my husband and myself at home so what I do is buy a small fryer chicken which I roast, then we have hot chicken sandwichs one night and take a sandwich or salad to work with the chicken. The rest is used to make the broth.

I hope that helps. Robin of

Anonymous said...

I hope your child never chokes on the small chicken bones...very dangerous..

Sarah Smith said...

Anonymous, it is not dangerous. I check the bones before giving them to my daughter. If they are soft enough for me to smush with my fingers, they are totally soft enough for her to eat. Raw carrots would be more of a danger, but yet she eats those too!

Healthy Hippy said...

I have heard a parent/friend of mine talk of crispy chicken - he uses the book Nourishing Traditions all the time but I cant find it in there.

My search was begun with the above problem of not being able to use all the chicken too.

Begonia Blu said...

What other meats do u all eat regularly? My Family of 4 loves roasted chicken, so we eat one like once a week. I freeze 3_4 carcasses then make a huge pot of stock. I have always been a healthy eater but relatively new to WAPF/Paleo way of eating. We do eat grass fed beef which i add organic pasture raised liver to, but im having a hard time finding other meats. Any suggestions that are kid friendly? Thanks!

Sarah Smith said...

We eat grassfed, locally raised beef the most, since we buy it in bulk directly from a rancher. We also eat lamb on occasion (we all love lamb chops), chicken about twice a month, and pork very occasionally.