Growing up in the Agnew house, I remember that chicken and biscuits were always a special treat. I would ask Mom why we couldn't have it more often, and she said that she didn't have any leftover chicken backs to make stock. To explain, Papa always raised chickens in the summer, and we had to cut them up and package them for the freezer. Mom would keep the backs separate just to make stock. When she did have time and all the right ingredients she would make the delicious homemade stock, and cook us up a delicious treat for dinner. During college, I started to make my own trips to the store for groceries, and was amazed to find one day that they sell chicken broth! I was pretty upset that Mom had been holding out on me for so long. So I bought myself some, and tried to recreate Mom's chicken and biscuits. With the first bite, I realized what the big deal was about the homemade stock and homgrown chicken. And I as I learn more about our food system, homemade will not only always taste better, it will be better for you. Mom, thank you for that lesson. And now here's how I make homemade chicken stock.
Homemade Chicken Stock
1 whole chicken, preferably local and pasture raised
3 stalks of celery, cut into 3 inch pieces
3 whole carrots, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
1 whole onion, sliced
1. Place the chicken in a large slow cooker/crockpot. Place the celery, carrots, and onions around the chicken. Fill crockpot with water.
2. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
3. Let the chicken and the liquid cool. Scoop out the vegetables and set aside. You can use these in another recipe, or discard. At our house, Millie ususally gets the carrots.
4. Separate the meat from the skin and the bones. Dispose of the waste and store the meat in the refrigerator, up to a week, until ready to use. The meat can also be frozen.
5. Use a funnel and a strainer with a large storage container (plasticware or a mason jar) to strain any remaining solid pieces from the stock. Store the stock in the refrigerator for use within a week, or it can be frozen for use at a later time.
The stock and the chicken can be used to make chicken and biscuits, chicken noodle soup, chicken pot pie, chicken stew with biscuits (click for link). The chicken can be used for chicken salad (recipe coming soon), Pioneer Woman's Chicken Enchiladas, or a variety of other delicious dishes.
One other note, I usually remove the breast pieces from the whole chicken before cooking. Then I have my boneless, skinless chicken breast for use in another recipe. There will be plenty of meat left to save and use as suggested above.