It’s been awhile since I’ve done a how-to, hasn’t it? Well, a few weeks back I was doing our usual roast chicken and wondered…how many people actually know how to do this from beginning to end? Especially if you’re cooking from scratch on a normal basis–you are missing out on all the free chicken stock!
Once I got over the shocking realization, I decided I had to share our method for the betterment of chicken-eating-kind. I will certainly acknowledge that there really is no wrong way to do this–just different habits. I would love to know–if you do roast, clean, and make stock from your chickens–how do you do things differently?
How To: Roast a Chicken
- A large French oven (we have a 6 3/4 qt. Le Creuset French Oven–no worries it’s from an outlet!)
- A meat thermometer (pictured—wouldn’t mind a new digital one)
- a few sharp, non-serrated knives
- 1-2 cutting boards
- 1 crockpot/slowcooker (here, try one from my wishlist)
- 1 roasting chicken, rinsed and extras removed (some come with gizzard and heart inside)
- 2 T extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper, for seasoning
- Lemon, cut in half and placed inside the bird (optional!)
Prep & Cook
Give enough time for your chicken to cool a little bit so that you can handle it. Gloves may help, but I prefer just waiting until I can touch it (about 20 minutes). Your chicken will still be hot enough to serve immediately. To begin cleaning your chicken, slice through where the thigh meets the body of the bird.
Next you’re going to want to separate the thigh from the leg (only if you want to). This is done by locating the …erm..kneecap as it were and cutting just above it. That is the best way I can describe it–it will take some practice to find the sweet spot, but when you do it shall never leave you.
Now you can start to cut the breasts from the breastbone. I do this by locating the bouncy, solid center of the chicken, then cutting to the left or right of it downwards, at a slight angle. Do this cautiously, and if you pay close attention, you may feel it skimming across the side of the breastbone. Once you’ve cut done about 3/4 of the way into the bird, you should be able to reach in and just pull and separate (if it’s not too hot!)–from this point you should be able to pick at the chicken until it’s clean. NOTE: Don’t forget to clean the back! It doesn’t seem like there might be much meat there–but there is.
Clean as a whistle! You are now left with your chicken carcass! This and the oils around it should now go into your crockpot/slow cooker. That means it’s time for stock ingredients!
- A fine strainer (if you’re making stock–why wouldn’t you?!)
- A large pitcher to keep the broth
- Mason jars or tupperware to store
- Chicken carcass and any extra bones/unusable chicken parts
- 8-10 cups water (depending on your slow cooker capacity–in most cases, fill’re up to an inch from the top)
- 2-3 T white or apple cider vinegar
- 10-12 peppercorns (optional)
- Salt to taste (optional)
- 1 bay leaf (optional)
Once all of your ingredients are in your slow cooker/crockpot, turn it on high for one hour, then turn it to low and let sit for up to 24 hours. Make sure to top off your stock as it will cook down a little bit. We like to cook it for about 22 hours, then turn it off and let it rest until cool enough to pour into a storage container (1-2 hours). Most people like their stock without peppercorns and chicken bits, so feel free to strain it through a fine strainer.
This is what the stock should look like after some cool time in the fridge. See that lovely layer on top? THAT’S FAT. YOU MUST EAT IT. Mostly because I say so, but it’s also very good for you. Trust me.
We tend to do a roasting chicken followed by stock about every 2-3 weeks. If I were to guess correctly, I would say each stock session yields us about 4.5-5 quarts of stock. One happy accident we had on our first attempt since moving out to Portland was when we realized halfway through cooling that we had no mason jars to store the stock in. We ended up freezing it in ice cube trays, which we now use for recipes that call for small amounts of stock, broth, or water. When not in use, they are stored in a large freezer bag in…where else? The freezer.
What’s the Difference Between Stock and Broth?
Still wondering what the true difference between stock and broth are? From what I’ve found, there isn’t much difference. I have found answers ranging from broth is seasoned, stock is not to broth is from stewing the meat and stock is from stewing the bones. I have changed around the words so many times since starting this post I’ve lost interest in caring. I’m going to call this stock as the stewing definition makes the most sense to me. You disagree? Let’s thumb war. Otherwise…