Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chicken Stock made in a Crock Pot from a Rotisserie Chicken

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It's free!

It's the stuff of legend, the stuff of fantasy... Gold spun from straw... Deep Rich Flavorful Chicken Stock made fresh from garbage.

Without exaggeration, millions of store bought, pre-cooked, pre-seasoned rotisserie Chickens are sold every day all around the world.

I would be interested to know how many of those birds are tossed in the garbage before the gold can be spun.

And yet, so easy... So cost effective and will make a huge difference in your cooking.

For many, chicken stock is something you buy every Christmas and Thanksgiving and whenever we want to make a special meal.  But those in the know, those that have a constant supply of free stock will constantly have a replenished supply (it freezes very well).

Suddenly soups are easy.  Challenging Risotto becomes a snap and rice boiled in chicken stock is a brand new dish.

And.... IT's FREE!

Take a look at the photo above... Some see garbage, I see gold...

And there really is no trick... Take a crock pot slow cooker and set it to the LOW setting.  This is the perfect temperature for a low simmer, which happens to be the perfect temperature to slow simmer out the cartilage and connective tissues that give stock it's flavors.

Be sure to use the goo in the bottom of the packaging for the chicken.  That's the drippings that could be used for gravy.  But if you do not plan a meal for gravy this week, use it in the stock.  You will be glad you did.

So, here's what I do...

  1. Bones and bottom goo are placed in a crock pot.
  2. 8 cups of cold water are added.  It does make a difference, as cold water will help to open the bones and promotes the extraction of collagen.
  3. I set the Crock Pot setting for just WARM for about 1 hour.  Again, raising the temperature slowly helps to release the flavor.
  4. Then I set the temp control to LOW.
  5. I add a few leftover unused vegetables, Onions, peppers, Potatoes, Carrots, Celery.  Again, i consider these free items as mostly I try to pick out the week old produce that is just about to go bad.
  6. Put the cover on and leave for anywhere from 4 to 8 hours.
  7. Strain the solids and you have stock.  Freeze some for a rainy day, or use within 4-5 days.
  8. It is optional to allow the stock to chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours and then skim off the solids on the top (the fat).  Me, there is flavor in that fat and I skip this step.

Generally, a Pint of stock (2 cups, 16 Ounces) will cost about $2.00 if you buy canned or boxed.  So you will get almost $8 worth from a single $5 rotisserie chicken.  Not many bargains in the cooking world, but this is one of them.

And this concludes week one of a new series... Just what is the ultimate that you can make from a single Rotisserie Chicken (still working on the name).

Last week I bought a Chicken...

It started with a discussion on the rising costs of food (really, milk $4 a gallon, hamburger almost $5 a pound... insane!) and melded into a discussion of the glories of a store bought, pre-cooked, pre-seasoned Rotisserie Chicken. I am well known for my love of the bird. Less than $5 for a three pound bird, such a joy to cook with I have my series of "52 Uses for a Rotisserie Chicken." (which at the time I am writing this, stands at 70).

Well, long story short, I am challenging myself to do a few things...

First, eat well. Anyone can slice the chicken, add bread and mayo and make a sandwich. I like to use the bird as a base for a good tasting meal... Or a stock that is then used to make a good tasting soup.

Second, make these dishes for 2. Old farts like Jackie and myself, as well as young couples see lots of recipes that feed 6-8 (or more). In fact, if you read over those "52 Uses for a Rotisserie Chicken." you will see that most of those recipes indeed would feed not only Jackie and myself but our neighbors on both sides as well. Much as I like leftovers, for a change, here's some recipes aimed at two people. This also allows me to stretch my food budget.  Of course the stock is not for two, but can be divided for multiple meals.  usually I use about 6 Cups a week.  Sometimes more, sometimes less.

Which leads me to...

Third, even though the base of the meal is the same (chicken), I should be able to get 4 or 5 dishes out of a single bird. So let's see what type of variety I can get out of the rotisserie poultry.  This week I made 6 dishes and Stock from the single bird... pretty good value for my food dollar.

Fourth, keep track of costs. Now this is a little difficult as how much does a couple of TBS of flour cost or an old onion nearing it's prime? So, instead of figuring pennies, let's just agree that pantry items (like flour, sugar, spices) will not be included. Also, I am cheap and I almost always buy things on sale. Case in point, this recipe calls for refrigerator biscuits. If I were going to the store to buy them for a recipe I was going to make today, I would probably buy a generic brand to save money. BUT if you watch the sales like I do and buy extras when I see a good price, you can get a can of Pillsbury "Grands" biscuits, not at the normal $2.50 a can but for $0.99 cents a can.

This culinary intellectual challenge is as much about stretching your dollar as it is about eating good.

And Fifth and finally, I want to do a few very very basic posts meant for non hobbyist cooks. Look over this post. You will see not only my recipe, a few in focus photos that hopefully make you want to give this a try, but also if you scroll past the recipe you will see some more detailed photos and some detailed explanations of what I did, why and how.
It started as a challenge, now I am pondering a new series... So far, here's the 6 dishes I made from the single bird...

Breakfast, Cheesy Chicken Monkey Bread for Two People, click the blue letters or the photo to see the recipe blog post.  FANTASTIC, sort of a French toast, savory bread pudding loaded with cheese, chicken, onion and spices.

Made with just the meat from a single Chicken thigh.... Total costs were just a shade under $4 for the meal ($2 per person).

I also made fancy sandwich that dressed up a bowl of left over soup...  The Chicken Salad Roll up for Two People happens to be my wife's favorite sandwich.  Made easy with a can of store bought refrigerator biscuits   Creamy cream cheese is the glue that holds more onions, chicken, mushrooms and seasonings.

Made with the meat from the other single chicken thigh.  C0sts were under $3 ($1.50 per person)

Needing a main course I came up with a FANTASTIC Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese for Two People.  If you are a fan of those famous bar snack chicken wings you will love this dressed up version.  Tabasco sauce is used to spice up the chicken.  There is even some blue cheese added to copy the dipping sauce.

Made easy with just a single breast from the beloved bird!  This was the expensive dish of the week, $5 for the dish ($2.50 per serving)... Still a good deal!

I made a lunch recipe. Just about the easiest, fastest lunch recipe you could imagine.  But even better, the recipe for FAST FOOD Smashed Potato and Chicken for 2 People comes in at an affordable $1 a serving. My own version of fast food dollar menu.

And this satisfying delicious cheap  inexpensive meal is made from the meat from both chicken legs.  Another bargain day, $2 for the meal or a Buck a head (my own dollar menu)!

I made another main course, Chicken and Pasta with an Herb Tomato Sauce for 2 People dish (OK, Spaghetti).  Using fresh made or store bought sauce and pasta, equally easy and fast dinner perfect for a weeknight meal.

Made easy with just a single breast from the rotisserie chicken!  This main course, complete meal came in at $3 total, $1.50 per serving.

And finally, my very favorite leftover meal is to make an Italian Frittata.  Don't let the name scare you off, it's a fancy Italian Omelette.  I made mine with some spinach, chicken and Feta cheese and it was a DELICIOUS breakfast.

It only took the meat from the wings.  And it was a bargain at $2.25 for two or a shade over a buck ten!

So, two  breakfasts,
a lunch, 
a sandwich 
and a couple of main course dishes... 
and of course 8 Cups of Chicken Stock!.. 

How did I do on my challenge???


So,  I am pleased to list this as one of my Growing list of "52 Ways to Cook SLOW COOKER-CROCK POT Easy Recipes"!!!

From meat dishes (Like an AMAZING Root Beer Pulled Pork that will feed a small army), to kitchen staples (FREE Gallon of Chicken Stock anyone?) to a slew of Soup and Stew recipes, these are the dishes that will change the way you cook.  Start in the morning, set and forget and dinner is on the table... Easy Peasy indeed!!!


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