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Where to Buy? Old Hens/Chicken Bones for Making Stock?

So, with the cold setting in, I've had a craving for chicken soup like my Mom makes. She used to go to a place that sold "live chicken" and bought old hens, slaughtered right there, and made the best soup.

I've been getting organic chicken @ whole foods in chelsea, then making the soup, and it just doesn't compare. plus, the chicken costs about $15!

anybody have any tips on where i can either buy a good, freshly slaughtered chicken (old hen, or if you ave any other recs?) or a LOT of chicken bones (maybe chinatown?). prefer downtown, near chelsea if possible.

thanks in advance!

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  1. One tip I have is to buy chicken feet in Chinatown to supplement your other chicken, if you can't find what you are looking for. I find they help a lot. If you do find a good source for hen, do post back.

    1. Any grocery in Chinatown will have old hens, labeled "fowl" but I've never seen organic ones there. They still make a mighty fine soup, though. When I can't find a fowl, I use chicken backs. MMRuth's suggestion of using chicken feet is a good one. They add a rich, unctuous, quality to the broth.

      1. MMRuth, have never tried w/chicken feet but will do it this w/e. Do you take the skin off first? I normally take the skin off as I hate the process of defatting, then I use one of those Japanese skimmers to get out the remaining fat. Though I can't imagine trying to take skin off chicken feet...

        phofiend, where are you buying backs? Chinatown as well? Any recs, i usually go to the meat market on Bayard, but have not been there forever.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jessesgirl

          No, you should not take the skin off -- throw them in whole. The way I defat is I first cool the stock and place it in the fridge. The fat rises to the top and congeals. I then scrape the fat off. If you're looking for an organic source of chicken feet, Whole Foods (some of them and not all the time) carries them.

          You've got to try Bo Bo Chicken. You can get it in a couple of markets in Chinatown and at the Essex Market and in Washington Heights. It is very fresh and flavorful. It is free-range (at least has access to pasture) -- not totally sure if it's organic. According to the website, they supply chickens to Blue Hill. The best thing is that it's cheap -- a chicken will run you between $5 to $8.


          1. re: Miss Needle

            Yes - that's the easiest way to remove the fat. And, jessesgirl, no I don't remove the fat from the chicken feet - that sounds like an unpleasant task!

            Miss Needle - Thanks for the information about Bo Bo.

        2. Just back from Chinatown where I bought two chicken breast carcasses to supplement what's in my freezer for making stock. I bought them at the butcher on Bayard between Mott and Elizabeth for $.75 apiece. Haven't taken them out of the bags yet, but they look as though they have a good amount of meat on them. No skin, but I have some of that in my freezer bag. Feet would have been a great addition. Sorry I didn't think of it.

          1 Reply
          1. re: JoanN

            Started making the stock this morning and realized my information above wasn't quite correct. When I took the chicken pieces out of the bag I realized there were two entire carcasses in each bag. Each bag weighed 1.5 pounds, so that's $.50/lb. And they had even more meat on them than I thought they did.

          2. You can get fresh never frozen chicken (young and old) at Deluxe Food Market at on Elizabeth. They sell whole chicken, chicken parts (anything you can think of), plus big bags of chicken leg bones for like $1 each.

            They also have other poultry like poussin, squabs, pheasants, quails, silky (black) chicken, duck, etc.

            1. Why wouldn't you want to boil your chicken with the skin? It's so easy to remove the fat after you refrigerate the stock, and then you have delicious shmaltz - no better excuse to make matzoh balls!
              I've bought feet in chinatown and made stock just with just the feet, which I wasn't crazy about. Nice to combine, or in lieu of a big old chicken, get necks and backs.

              1. What I do is buy whole chickens, cut out the chicken breasts and freeze them (save money) - cut up the rest of the carcass' - throw in the vegies/herbs and cover with water - simmer for 3-4 hrs. then put in refrig and skim the congealed fat the next day. Sometimes I’ll roast the chicken parts for an hour ahead of time and deglaze the roasting pan with cold water and add to the stock for a really tasty brown chicken stock. If you don't want to use whole chickens, most grocery stores sell chicken backs/necks for soups for like $0.80 per lb, or you can just ask your butcher if they have any laying around, I've had them give it to me for free in the past.

                1. Thanks all for the responses. I can't wait to try these suggestions!

                  1. you can go to Esposito's Pork Shop
                    500 9TH Ave
                    New York, NY 10018-4102
                    Phone: (212) 279-3298

                    they sell chicken backs for about $1/lb

                    whole foods ca order organic chicken backs for you for baout $.75/lb

                    western beef sells fowl and chicken parts really cheep...

                    1. the whole foods on houston has necks and backs

                      1. Any meat place in chinatown will have old hen and chicken bones. Also Fairways on 74th and Bway or 125th will most likely have bones and old hens too along with veal bones and others for very cheap and good. For fresh slaughter chickens, I've mostly seen live poultry places in the boroughs in areas with a large latin or chinese population. Maybe Washington Heights would have them?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ChefAntDrgn

                          Don't know about 125th Street, but the UWS Fairway doesn't have old hens and only very rarely--around the holidays--has bones or carcasses. I think they must use their leftovers in their prepared foods, so you can't count on them being for sale.