Chickens used to make stock - ideas for reuse...
Hi, I'm finally going to attempt to make home made chicken stock. I'm thinking of using Ina Garten's recipe which calls for three whole chickens. What can I do with the three chickens when I am done? Obviously the chickens will be cooked, but will they be tough or chewy? Any ideas on creative uses for the leftover chickens would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks in advance - JEFF.
Whenever I've made stock, I've used a stewing hen. By the time my stock is done, the poor old girl has given up her all for the benefit of the stock. The meat is tough, dry, chewy, and flavorless (but the stock is great!). Now maybe Ina's recipe uses three chickens for maximum flavor in less time, in which case salads, croquettes, casseroles (tetrazzini, for example), tacos, enchiladas, etc would be good uses. After all a hen is tough and chewy anyway, so maybe the resulting useless meat when I make stock is due more to the choice of chicken rather than the fact she was used for stock.
I've always felt that this recipe was a little excessive. Perhaps it's focused toward a less adventurous cook who might not be ready for dealing with necks/backs or tracking down a stewing hen?
If you've got the chicken, though, you can always shred and put in enchiladas.
I commend you on making your first stock. I make stock regularly, so let me steer you in the right direction as far as I've learned so far.
First, I, like you, started by using normal chickens and wondered how the hell people could afford to do this on a regular basis. The costs seemed prohibitive. A couple things would happen. I would either buy less chicken than was called for, or fill up my stock pot with as much water as I could, to get the most out of it. Both are mistakes that lead to "weak stock". I'd also feel like an idiot throwing away all those chickens.
At some point I learned to use stewing hens from chinese markets, which in my case are small little birds that I get for $1.79 each. I would still make the above mistakes though, and just figured 2 birds, 4 bucks, as much water as possible.
My breakthrough came when I read somewhere that true chicken stock (vs mildly flavoured chicken-water) is supposed to be quite gelatinous after refrigerating it, and that the water should just cover the chicken parts in order to get this result.
The solution is to buy some of those $1.79 birds, cut them up, and subsidize them with chicken carcasses. I buy big bags of carcasses from a local chinese market for $1 a bag, usually 3-4 carcasses per bag. A great deal. I get 2 birds, 2 bags of carcasses, chop 'em all up, and now you have enough for a quality stock without getting expensive. Still less than the price of a single normal chicken.
I've seen big meaty soup chickens at Whitehouse meats for example in the Saint Lawrence Market, but I imagine they'd be quite expensive for less. However if you used one of those and then threw in the bags of carcasses, I'm sure it would make better stock.
Finally, you should try your hand at roasted chicken stock, which just means that after you cut up all the chicken parts and vegetables, you roast them in the oven at 400 until everything is nicely browned, maybe 40-50 minutes. Then proceed with the recipe as normal. Some people call this a "brown" stock. I find it better for most applications, except a delicate flavoured soup where you want the clear colour and flavour. It's easily better for sauces and reductions.
Finally you could try double stock, which is the ultimate. You make stock, then start again but instead of using water, you use your stock.
Hope this helps, do it right the first time, it'll save you money in the long run. I buy my bags of chicken at the chinese market at Black Creek Drive and Lawrence, and my $1.79-$1.99 chickens at various other chinese supermarkets. Sadly the one at black creek doesn't have them.. That would just be too easy, right? :)
Oh, and I always throw out the chicken. I've tried it, it sucks... What else.. I don't salt my stock until I'm ready to use it, just more control that way, and I freeze it in ice cube trays, then put the cubes into big freezer bags.. With my cube trays it's around 8 cubes per cup, so it makes it easy.
If you shop St. Lawrence Market I offer another option which people elsewhere should know. Reesor's in the Thornhill Farmers Market is probably the best purveyors of chicken in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) - they process and probably grow their own. They sell chicken frames at a ridiculously low price. The frames are what's left when they bone chicken - all the worst parts of the "tyuk" that make the best stock.
If any of you have a nearby source that dresses its own poultry try there.
If you don't get your hands on stewing chickens, but use fryers...
Just after the chicken is cooked, you can pull it out of the water, strip the meat, then throw the bones back in.
But I can't imagine using 3 whole fryer chickens with meat on them...I have a real stockpot, but not one that would cover 3 chickens.
I just got the Martha Stewart Basics book (or cooking school book), and they have a whole chapter on stocks. Similar to what jaykayen says, Martha takes the whole chicken and cuts it up, puts it in a pot with aromatics, and lets it come to a boil and cooks the chicken just until done. Then she removes the chicken pieces, removes the meat from the bones, and then tosses all the bones back into the pot with the skin and more vegetables. It is an interesting read and has a lot of different types of stock in there, ie, brown, fish fumet, consomme, white stock, etc.
I've always saved carcasses from roasted chickens in the freezer and used those for stock. Am I wrong in assuming the stock flavor does not come from the meat, but from the gelatin created from the bones and sinew? In which case, a cheap alternative would be a few pakcages of thighs and /or legs, which are quite inexpensive. 3 whole chickens seems such a waste, unless, perhaps, you removed the breasts...
Exactly what I do also. Often my grocery store sells backs really cheap. I grab a bunch of packages when I see them and throw them in the freezer. And I learned last year that feet make the most wonderful stock when thrown in with the backs and my saved roasted carcasses. I think it's a real waste to use whole chicken.