Monday, July 6, 2009

Roasting Chickens and Making Mineral-Rich Stock

For the past year, I have been cooking a crock pot chicken each Monday and stretching the meat over three meals. (You can read about that method here.) But this summer, things are not quite as routine. Thinking ahead to prepare the chicken has not been happening. I had to come up with a good solution so that I still could use my whole chickens, which I buy from a local pastured poultry farm.

I have been roasting three chickens in my turkey pan, freezing the meat in meal-sized portions, and making several quarts of stock with all of bones and such. This has been a great solution. I have chicken ready in the freezer for those meals that have to be prepared quickly, which has been a lifesaver through this unscheduled season.

Here's how I've been doing it:

First, I thaw out my chickens in the fridge. Then, I rub them with extra virgin olive oil and place them in my turkey roasting pan. You see here that these three were so big that one had to fit on its side. (I also use this pan for cooking up huge quantities of pumpkin and such.) I sprinkle them with salt and pepper only since I don't know the final dish the meat will make. I wouldn't want clashing herbs or seasonings!

Then, I cover the chickens by making a "tent" with foil. The pan came with a lid, but I prefer to allow some air circulation.

I oven-roast the chickens at 375 degrees. These three took a little less than three hours. After two hours, I took off the foil so that the meat could brown a little. I started checking the temperature at two and a half hours. But it didn't reach the final temp (180 degrees at the deepest part of the thigh) until twenty five minutes later.
We ate a hearty portion of the chicken for supper. Then I deboned all three of the birds and divided the meat into baggies to freeze for later. The deboning does take a while, BUT it is sure nice to have all of the meat ready. I consider it worth the effort.

See the pile of bones? Don't throw those away! There are so many minerals and other nutritive properties in those bones. Making stock is a great way to make use of every nutrient in the chicken!

To use all three carcases at the same time, you will need an extra large stock-pot. But, don't let making stock scare you. It is actually really, really simple. Sorry I don't have photos for this process...
  • Place all of the bones, skin and everything in your stock pot.
  • Cover with fresh, pure water.
  • Optional: add three to five carrots and three to five celery stalks for extra flavor.
  • Add three tablespoons of vinegar to help draw the minerals out of the bones.
  • Let stand for thirty minutes.
  • Bring to a boil and skim off the foam that rises to the surface.
  • Cover and let simmer for 12-18 hours.
  • Optional: add a bunch of parsley for the last ten minutes. This will impart extra mineral ions to the stock. (This tip, and much of this process, belongs to Sally Fallon.)
  • Remove bones and strain stock into large bowls.
  • Refrigerate until the fat congeals at the top.
  • Skim and discard the fat.
  • Divide the stock into pint- and quart-sized portions and freeze for future use.
I use stock when I steam rice, when I make soup, when I make sauces or when I cook beans. It makes a meatless meal even more nourishing! By the way, you know you have used a healthy chicken when the stock congeals like jello... just in case you wondered.


Tonya said...

Thanks for the tips! I've only been using the first stock that comes from cooking the chicken in the crockpot. I would have never thought that the stock could (or should) sit for 12-18 hours! You're always so informative!

What kind of meat thermometer do you have? I haven't been able to find a good one.

Hope your day is going well!


Amy Ellen said...

Hi Tonya,

I don't know what brand my thermometer is... it was a Christmas gift. It proabably came from Target... Sorry I'm not a bigger help there.

: ) ae

TeresaR said...

I often debone the raw chicken before we cook the meat, and we put the bones into the Crockpot to make the stock. Yum! We've never understood why anyone would throw out the bones. :)

Devon said...

I have 2 roasting chickens in my fridge right now. Maybe I'll make some stock! Great post--thank you!

Melanie and Josh said...

I love reading that you are doing this...I remember years ago when you were watching my mom debone a thanksgiving turkey and saying in a half grossed out/half in awe voice "wow, Ruthie, you must really love us..." and now you do it on a regular basis! :) btw-it still makes me cringe a little bit, but I have done it on occasion! :)

Noel said...

this is one of my favorite things to do, but I've always boiled the chicken and saved the broth. I'm going to have to try this - I"m sure roasted the chicken makes it taste a whole lot better :)

busymomof10 said...

What do you freeze your broth in?

Amy Ellen said...

Hi BusyMomOf10,

I freeze my stock in old yogurt containers. Exciting, huh?

: ) ae

trmills said...

Amy- I have had the stock congeal and didn't know what to do with it- do you just scoop it out, freeze it and use it normally? It looks really disgusting!


Amy Ellen said...

Hi trmills,

You actually want the stock to congeal. This is a sign that it is full of gelatin from a healthy chicken. The gelatin is a digestive aid that helps our system to use the minerals more efficiently. You want that yucky stuff! The good thing is that when you cook it up in a soup or with rice, it melts and you don't know it is any different than store bought stock -- just that it is ever so much healthier!

Yes, I just scoop it into containers and freeze it. I thaw it in the fridge the day before I need to use it... or thaw it by putting the container in a sink full of water. Like I said, it will not be any thicker than other stocks when you cook it.

Hope this helps! AE

trmills said...

Thanks, Amy Ellen. That is very helpful. This is Rhianna, by the way:)