I have a ton of recipes that either call for shredded chicken, or cooked chicken pieces. When I was first married I just used boneless skinless breasts. I assumed the increased price per pound was justified because there is hardly any waste. But as we had kids I began looking for ways to stretch our food budget, and I learned more about the more economical cuts I realized that what I had considered “waste” actually makes a homemade stock like nothing available in a carton.
I will almost always stock up on whole chickens when they go on sale, usually for me that is a drop below $.99 a lb, with $.88/lb. being what I have typically found in the past*. To get the most out of your chicken purchase, look for roaster chickens which are larger. You’ll get more meat, about enough to feed four to six people. Broiler or fryers are medium-sized chickens, and usually weigh 4-6 lbs. I purchased a mid-sized Broiler that was 4 1/2 lbs. and was able to get 3 quarts of stock and about 6 cups of meat.
I love boiling a whole raw chicken. This allows you to get the most out of a economical cut of chicken for your meals that call for shredded or cooked chicken, and to save the more expensive cuts for meals that call for a cutlet (cordon bleu, chicken parmesean, grilled chicken etc.) And you are also left with the makings of a great chicken stock, so those bones do not go to waste. The meat ends up flavorful and juicy and is great to have on salads, or in the freezer to keep on hand for casseroles, fajitas, or soups.
- 1 whole chicken, rinsed and giblets removed
- 1 large onion, halved
- 3 carrots, cut into chunks – unpeeled
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 stalks celery, cut into chunks
- 2 Bay leaves
- water to cover
- Place chicken in a large pot with onion, carrots, celery, garlic and peppercorns; add water to cover.
- Cover pot and bring to a boil; reduce heat to a gentle boil and cook for about 90 minutes, or until chicken meat is falling off of the bone.
- Remove chicken, let cool slightly and shred or chop the meat. The meat will come apart better if the chicken is still warm and not completely cooled.
- Put the bones back in the pot of water, and add 2 tablespoons of vinegar, and more water, I added a several more cups, to replace the water that cooked down.
- Cover the pot and simmer for a few more hours, I simmered mine for 3 more hours.
- Strain the bones and parts out of the stock. At this point you can use your stock but I prefer to refrigerate mine overnight, that way the fat re-solidifies a floats to the top, and I can easily skim it off.
- Use your homemade stock, or package it for freezing, to use later .
*Meat prices are changing rapidly as of 10/27, this will probably change.