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New England Thrift - eating chicken after making stock?

I've long been a big fan of making my own chicken stock - I'll use backs when I am buying whole chickens to cut up, and will save bones and bits of meat after making roast chicken. Often I can see a bunch of what looks like good meat while I'm straining out the stock, and I've been interested in trying to make food out of it - essentially making the chicken work double duty, first in stock making and then in something to eat.

Has anyone tried this? I've seen some recipes where you will use chicken to make broth for chicken soup, and then put the meat in the soup, but I'm concerned that once broth or stock is made, the chicken won't be very good anymore - since so much of the flavor will have cooked out. When I'm making poached chicken - for tinga poblana, for example - the poaching water never seems to have enough ooomph to it to really be used for a broth.

So - I guess I'm just wondering if it's possible to balance it in such a way that both work - cook long enough to have a good broth, but short enough that the chicken can be shredded and cooked in enchiladas or served in some sort of sauce.

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  1. I'll occasionally make a one-hour broth, which basically gives you a nicely poached chicken for use in salads and enchiladas and whatnot as well as a light stock good for use in more delicate soups, for making beans, and for reducing in simple pan sauces.

    I'll sometimes turn this into a more intensely-flavored stock by returning the back and the meaty bones to the pot along with whatever chicken I've collected in the freezer and maybe a fresh back or two. I'll let this poor-man's (let's say frugal-man's instead) double stock simmer and reduce for another hour or two.

    1 Reply
    1. re: eight_inch_pestle

      "I'll sometimes turn this into a more intensely-flavored stock by returning the back and the meaty bones to the pot along with whatever chicken I've collected in the freezer"

      This sounds like a pretty perfect - if labor intensive - method. Poach gently for no more than an hour, remove the more desirable bits of meat, and then return the less exciting bits to the pot for a longer simmer.

      My interest here is that even when I am making stock from a fairly picked roast chicken carcass, there always seem to be bits of perfectly good meat that only reveal themselves when its had that gentle simmer that gets the meat loose from the bone.

    2. It's one of those you pay either way situations. That is, the best broth is one where the chicken has been simmered so long that it's not worth eating (except by a pet), but if it's still worth eating, you've cheated the broth.

      Now, the deliberate form of achieving a balance here is poaching a chicken (never ever boiled, just kept at a bare simmer, maybe 185F) and then reducing the poaching liquid for a kind of jus.

      1. I never throw this chicken out; I'll use it for soup, chicken salad, fillings for dumplings, etc.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Cherylptw

          but doesn't it kinda start to taste like cardboard after a few hours in a stock pot?

          1. re: andytee

            Maybe modern chicken does. When I used to do this frequently (30 to 45 years ago) we had REAL stew hens and used them for making stock this way, then used the flavorful (and by now very tender) meat for pies and soups.

            Of course modern grocery store birds don't have a lot of flavor to start with, given they only live like 6 or 7 weeks. Maybe it wouldn't work that well with modern birds.

              1. re: andytee

                No, I make stock in one hour so the chicken still has flavor

            1. It needs a blast of new flavors because all the natural ones are sucked out. Use mole sauce, sofrito, poblanos, chorizo, and give it a second life.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Veggo

                I agree, Veggo. And, there are some dishes where, IMO, the chicken just provides some bulk to carry whatever else is there. I might make enchiladas with mole (or another) sauce, or put the tired chicken bits in some soup. Maybe I can't taste it, but it adds some bulk... and I am not wasting!

                1. re: MazDee

                  +1. I throw it into soup for some protein.

              2. I've normally used mainly bones and, um, junk from boning breasts and thighs in my stock, along with any random racks. Then I started throwing a pound or so of drumsticks in the stock pot, too (left from the boning of the thighs - I'd gotten the leg quarters on sale).

                The meat on the legs doesn't seem to get as overcooked after a few hours of simmering the way other bits might - though falling off the bones, it's still nicely moist and tender. Though I usually use it as a special treat for the pets - the dog goes crazy for it, and the cat, well, she humors me and nibbles on a piece.

                1. My grandma's homemade chicken and noodles calls for simmering the chicken for a couple of hours, then picking the meat and putting them back into the noodles.

                  If I can, I simmer the chicken in some of the stock I have in the freezer...then I add a little to the stock, add flavor to the chicken, and don't have mush for chicken when I add it to my homemade noodles.

                  1. This may work for you: poach the chicken until its just cooked, then take it out and remove the meat when cool enough to handle, and then throw the bones and other bits back into the cooking liquid and ontinue to cook until the liquid is reduced and you get a good broth. If you cook a carcass from leftover roast chicken or turkey, remove the meat you want to eat first and just cook the rest down. In either case, whatever meat is left on the bones afterwards should go to the dog as it has little flavor at that point. Little is wasted and the dog is happy.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Ellen

                      This is exactly how I do it, too. I'll poach it with the onion, celery and carrot, some thyme and a bay leaf, maybe some dill, just till the meat starts to fall off the bone.
                      Pick off the meat, throw everything else back in and cook for a couple more hours.