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Where to find chicken parts for stock?


I'm planning on taking a stab at Andrea Nguyen's recipe for Pho Ga, and I want to find some chicken parts for the "3 pounds chicken backs, necks, or other bony chicken parts". Does anyone know where I may find just that stuff without having to buy a lot of individual chickens? I'm in Arlington. Also, I am probably going to check H-mart but does anyone know about the yellow rock sugar?


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  1. First, the easy part. I saw yellow rock sugar at H-Mart last week at the Grand Opening.

    Second, the chicken. In the past, I have

    - bought chicken frames (with a reasonable amount of meat clinging to the bones) at Chinese markets such as Kam Man and Super-88. I don't know if Hong Kong Market is doing that now that it seems to have taken over Super-88 in Malden and Allston. (The Malden Store is probably the choice starting from Arlington.) The usual cost is on the order of 75 cents to a dollar a frame.

    - occasionally pounced on packages of chicken backs at the Fresh Pond Whole Foods. I am sure other WF locations do the same thing. Sometimes they have tons, sometimes nothing. The usual price is a 99 cents/pound.

    - the most reliable (and convenient, if you go to H-Mart) is to hit Market Basket for chicken leg quarters. At 79 or 89 cents a pound, this is a good, cheap, route to chicken stock. Even though it is not so bony, I have been known to use the parts whole, they are so inexpensive. If you want to salve your conscience, it is easy enough to cut the meat off the bones and set it aside for a higher purpose. At that price, buying two packages (to yield 3 pounds of meaty bones plus lots of boneless meat) will not break the bank. Market Basket does not usually put too many chicken leg quarter packages out in the display case at one time, but they are there, usually hidden away at the end of the display.

    If I were in your shoes, I would hit H-Mart and check to see if they have any chicken frames (doubtful, though), then head up the parking lot to Market Basket to get the leg quarters if you come up empty at H-Mart.

    2 Replies
    1. re: PinchOfSalt

      Thanks! I'm probably going to head out that way, so it should work. If worse comes to worse and I strike out at MB, I can always hit the Roche Bros and WF on the way back that are around there.

      1. re: marcreichman

        Ask the at the WF meat counter re. chicken parts for stock. In Bedford at least, they had some necks/backs in the frozen food aisle last winter. Woburn had smoked ham hocks in a freezer away from the meat counter on the other side of a very wide aisle. You just never know where they put the soup stock bones/parts.

    2. A call to Savenor's may be worth it as well- they normally have some great stuff for stocks and stews. Im not positive on necks, but Id be willing to bet they have them!

      1 Reply
      1. re: fmcoxe6188

        Yes, they even package chicken parts for stock, and sell very cheaply, if I recall correctly. Made a very nice chicken stock.

      2. Also, you could give Mayflower "Fresh Killed" Poultry a call outside of Inman in Cambridge. I keep meaning to get some parts to make some stock for the freezer.


        7 Replies
        1. re: bear

          Mayflower keeps chicken backs and necks in the glass door freezer (along with some game) and you can help yourself. They are either 5lb or 10lb bags. They almost always have them, so you really only need to call if you wanted a larger amount, but once in a while they run out. If you buy a bag of necks and a bag of backs, you'll have enough to make a decent stockpot of stock 3 times or so. They aren't super cheap (you can certainly find whole chickens for less per-lb and legs/thighs sometimes), but are the most convenient for making stock.

            1. re: itaunas

              I made stock last weekend and went to Mayflower. The backs were $.59 a pound and the whole legs were $.89 if you bought 5 lbs. If I had to do it again, I would have bought 10lbs of legs instead of half and half. The backs have so much more fat.
              based on the other comments, this is significantly cheaper than most of the other options.
              I thought the results were quite good. I used the Cook's illustrated "sweat the bones" method instead of the simmer for hours method and thought it was an improvement on the way I've done it before.

              1. re: cpingenot

                That;s great info about an inexpensive and reliable source for chicken backs! Mayflower is great... and just across the street from New Deal.

                1. re: cpingenot

                  what is needed to do the Cooks iliustrated way, have not heard of that and may want to try it this weekend, Thanks

                  1. re: cpingenot

                    If you want to make broth with a whole chicken, McKinnon's has broilers for $.69/lb right now and MB often has them for $.69-.89 (although these days .89 is more common and sometimes 1.19). When they have them, McKinnon's has good deals on stewing fowl and Johnnie's sometimes has sales on these. I mostly buy the parts from Mayflower and prefer their stewing fowl too, but take advantage of the other options too.

                    1. re: itaunas

                      I thought about heading to Mayflower for a stewing fowl when I made Coq au Vin a couple of weeks ago, but didn't manage to make it there. I just used a cut-up Empire from Trader Joe's. It was really good, but the breast was a little dry. Next time I'll try an older bird from Mayflower and stew it longer.

              2. Hi,

                I bought chicken carcasses at Super 88 (H-Mart) in Allston last week for stock. They're the usual several per bag for something around $1.39 or so. I prefer these to any other type of chicken products because there's less fat and the stock is lighter. I tried the Mayflower Poultry parts last winter and was disappointed with the results.


                2 Replies
                1. re: JoJo5

                  That's helpful, too. Thanks!

                  1. re: JoJo5

                    It depends a bit what you are trying to achieve. I normally use a whole chicken to make chicken broth/soups and usually use a broth for making risotto and rices. And I love working with stewing fowl. But if you use necks and backs to make a stock, they have more gelatin than just using a carcass, which is better for incorporating into sauces. And I think that for some soups where you add stock (thinking mostly potato and yuca offhand), the back/neck stocks (defatted) seem to give it a nicer sheen than otherwise and are stable when you thicken. Chicken feet also have a lot of gelatin and work well with potato/yuca. Since the original poster was specifically looking to make stock, I think that is why backs and necks were mentioned.

                  2. This is excellent info!

                    Probably should start another thread, but: how about the same question, but for veal stock?


                    3 Replies
                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      To be honest, the best thing would to buy a 50lb box and split it up among hounds. The problem is retailers are afraid of purchasing a specialty item and it not selling. If you call around, you might be able to get bones. Some possibilities are Savenors, Fresh Pond Market, the Everett McKinnons (they sell more veal than Somerville).

                      Shanks and breasts are another alternative. Some Market Baskets carry both, S&S usually carries a lot of breasts. I have seen shanks at Whole Foods and I bet Savenors has them.

                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                        Down in my basement freezer, I have some veal bones that I found at HillTop Meat Market. It might be worth giving them a call. I see them there sometimes but not always. Then again I go there maybe once or twice a year.

                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                          I suspect a call to Blood Farm would produce results, but that's definitely something you should call ahead about: 978.448.6669.

                        2. This is all some really amazing information, thanks! Here is my battle plan:

                          Go to H-mart, have some lunch in the food court (it's part of the mission!), and grab the rock sugar, and take a look at the chicken situation. If unsatisfactory, go to Savenor's (who I called) and grab their bagged bones and go for it.

                          I'll let y'all know how it goes. Thanks again!

                          3 Replies
                            1. re: marcreichman

                              I hope you found everything you needed.

                              As it turned out, I decided to go to the H-Mart too. There, towards the right end of the poultry refrigerated section, were... chicken leg quarters, priced the same as Market Basket. So, there is yet another choice when it comes to sourcing chicken soup/stock/broth ingredients.

                              By the way, is it me, or do certain parts of H-Mart look like locusts hit it? I went by the short aisle where there were small bags (i.e. less than 20 pounds) of rice, and that part of the store looked like the Super 88 rice department did until very recently. Yikes.

                              Also, I noticed that the Burlington Board of Health has suspended sale of live seafood (fish and lobsters from the tanks). I wonder what the problem was and when it will be resolved.

                              1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                For those who never get to Burlington and live in the Brookline area, a good (albeit expensive) source is the Butcherie, a kosher market on Harvard St.. They almost always stock freshly prepared chicken carcasses. Since kosher meat is brined they do have a distinctive taste. Unfortunately, as with most kosher meat, they are expensive, almost $2 a pound. The carcass (back, neck and breast frame) usually has a fair amount of meat and not too much fat. If you live in that area, the extra cost might be worth saving a trip to less convenient locations.

                                I often make my soup and stock from a combination of carcasses and whole legs and entire chickens. After cooking the entire chicken in the stock pot for a relatively short time, perhaps 15 minutes to parboil, but I confess I never time it since I decide on the basis of appearance and touch, I remove the whole chickens from the pot to cut out the breast and thigh, returning the remainder of the carcass. I reserve the parts I have removed. Some parts I later broil, some parts parts I debone, saving the flesh and returning the bones to the pot.

                                I strain the contents make soup at the first stage of the process. I then pick through the cooked bones and remove any large chunks of cooked meat for chicken salad. The remaining aromatic vegetables, bones, and small bits I then cook for another few hours to produce stock. The resulting sludge is then strained through a tamis, a drum sieve.

                            2. Hi,
                              I just recently went on a stock making spree. I got packages of chicken necks and chicken backs from Battambang supermarket in Lowell. They also had packages of chicken feet -- I passed on these this time. The stock is wonderful -- shimmery and shaky. I did pull a fair amount of fat off the top after letting the stock cool overnight in the frig. It was less than a dollar a pound for each: I believe I spent about 8 dollars total for the chicken parts, and got 3 gallons of stock.

                              I made veal stock the same weekend: Blood Farm in Groton from time to time has big bags of veal bones for about $10. I am on their list to call when they get them in. I use Anthony Bourdain's advice on stock making from his Les Halles cookbook. I froze about 2 gallons of stock and reduced the rest to about 3 quarts of something approximating demiglace.

                              1. So, I ended up with a 4 pound chicken, rock sugar, and some spices from H-mart and got 3 packages of the "chicken parts for soup" from Savenors, which totaled close to 3 pounds. All that said, my soup was mildly successful, but being my first stock I probably made a few mistakes (cloudiness, etc.). I think the real issue I ran into was that I used either too much water, or not enough bones. The package from Savenors has meat on the bones, and so I feel as if maybe I needed more bones to really make it succulent, as opposed to just mildly flavored.

                                Next time I will do better. Thanks for all the tips! I think I'll hit the Lowell spot next time just to stock up on backs and necks specifically.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: marcreichman

                                  If it isn't strong enough for you, just keep it simmering after you've strained it to reduce it down a bit. SOP.

                                  1. re: marcreichman

                                    Maybe just me, but I really prefer to brown or roast the bones and/or meat first before I use it in stocks or soups. Unless I'm adding some strong spices in the dish or combining it that may hide that flavor, I find just using bones isn't very flavorful without greatly reducing the stock as others have suggested.

                                    1. re: kobuta

                                      i just tried this method, which produced rich flavorful stock, albeit not quickly, but not a lot of work.

                                      i had frozen a couple of pounds of rotisserie chicken bones, i put them in my turkey roasting pan, covered them with cold water (usually around 3 quarts), and brought to a boil on top of the stove, then transferred it to a very low oven (200-degrees) for 4-6 hours. then i added a large onion, a couple of carrots, a bulb of fennel and any fronds, a few peppercorns, a couple of smash garlic cloves, and returned it to the oven for another hour. let it cool, removed the solids and strained though a fine-mesh strainer.

                                      1. re: wonderwoman

                                        Lots of good ideas here - I especially like your idea, wonderwoman. I don't usually get rotisserie chickens these days (mostly because the stores near me don't carry them, and we're conserving gas these days), but if I roast up some myself, I'm going to try this.

                                        Been sick for awhile, so I was practically living off of soup. I buy bags of chicken legs at Price Rite in Lynn for .59 a pound and boil them for homemade dog food (OK, stop laughing everyone - I have one old guy who doesn't have much of an appetite, and another who has seizures and is sensitive to additives - making their food is much cheaper, too). The dogs get the chicken (without the bones, of course, and no fat/skin - they get sick from that) and I use the stock to improve most anything - of course, if I was practical, I'd start freezing it, but I usually just make a big pot of something to eat for the week. It's like magic for food... and, yeah, if it doesn't have enough flavor, I just reduce it before I use it. Oh, and I always skim off the fat after it cools. I definitely don't need the fat myself, either - and I prefer my food to be not-greasy, anyway.

                                        Tip I learned awhile ago - (this is esp important if you make a humoungous amt like I usually do): when the stock is done, put the pan in a sink full of cold water, and keep replenishing the cold to reduce the temp before you put it in the fridge - otherwise, the heat will warm up the refrigerator and it could spoil your food.