IMG_0234You’ve eaten the roasted chicken, licked your fingers and now it’s time for clean up. Believe it or not, that chicken carcass that you have left is one of the most valuable things to come across your kitchen. If you haven’t noticed, chicken stock is a widely used ingredient in anything from soups, to curries, risotto, braises and even vegetable dishes. The reason for this is its neutral flavor doesn’t overpower the other ingredients like say, a vegetable stock could, but instead it adds a round flavor and richness that serves as a  great building block. What you buy in the store is usually broth, made from meat and flavorings and not usually the simmered bones. If you make a proper stock from bones cooked for a long time you release their natural gelatin which is why a homemade stock becomes jelly when it cools. What is also does is give you that velvety viscous mouth feel when it’s hot. Store bought chicken “stock” or broth also has salt in it, something the professionals never do because if you reduce the stock to concentrate flavor and gelatin it would then be too salty. So you season with salt at the end. That being said, I use box stock when I don’t have any home-made in the house, but I always buy low sodium and organic to minimize the crazy ingredients they add for flavor. Just watch the salt if you use store-bought, and when using home-made, you will have to season with a little extra at the end. Keep in mind this is one chicken, so you may not get that jelly when cold texture but its still a hell of a lot better than spending money!

If you own a slow cooker, you can toss the leftover chicken body and any juices that are hanging out on the dish around it right in after dinner and cook it overnight or do the same the next day. If not, save it in a Tupperware and simmer it gently in a pot on a day that you have some time. If you simmer it for 2-3  hours you should be fine and watch the water level so it never gets completely dry. Reducing it will concentrate flavor and save space in your freezer and you can add water or broth to make up any liquid difference in your recipes. Lastly, the slow cooker does crazy things to onions so I leave them out if I’m using that.

After the Roasted Chicken Stock  IMG_0232

1 chicken carcass with anything that is left on it, broken up into a few smaller pieces and any reserved juices

3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2″ lengths

3 stalks of celery, cut large

1 large white or yellow onion, peeled and quartered (omit if slow-cooker)

2 cloves garlic, peeled

8 sprigs of thyme

parsley stems (if you have them)

1 whole clove (if you don’t have it, omit)

1. Cover all ingredients with water in a slow cooker or a pot that is deeper than wide, and not too big or too small for the ingredients.

2. In slow-cooker cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8 hours. On stove top, bring to a boil on high heat, then reduce it to a simmer and simmer 2-4 hours until done, watching the liquid. Skim the impurities off the top with a spoon or ladle during the process.

3. Strain out the solids and discard and cool, then freeze.