I love rotisserie chickens. You know, the ones they have right near the checkout lines at grocery stores to encourage you to buy a chicken instead of cooking dinner? I mean you just spent an hour in the grocery store and you never were able to find that canned pumpkin anyway. It wasn’t with the pie makings or the canned soups or vegetables or anywhere. Maybe all the canned pumpkin in the world turned out to have botulism and had to be taken off the shelves. Maybe it’s like Cadbury creme eggs and you can only buy it during certain seasons. Whatever the reason, your new recipe for Superfoods Casserole clearly calls for canned pumpkin and your backup idea of enchiladas seems like a lot of work. Maybe you can just nuke some frozen broccoli and give everyone the choice of lemon pepper or barbecue…

Yeah, those chickens. I love them. And sometimes I fall for the lure of a fast dinner with time for a glass of wine later. Afterwards, when I have a big plate of bones and skin and I’m feeling bad because the fridge is full of enchilada makings and most of the Superfood Casserole makings, I want to feel like I didn’t waste money. So I make stock. The first time I tried it I was intimidated. I mean, I can’t really cook. Only Real Cooks make their own stocks and broths and all that. Next I’ll be claiming to have even the vaguest idea how to make a souffle.

Making stock the not-cook’s way takes about half an hour and it’s spread out over days. In this case, I made it with beer can chicken, but rotisserie detritus works just as well. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Chicken detritus
  • A slow cooker
  • Some old veggies that no one wants to eat (wrinkly carrots, half an onion, limp celery, etc)
  • A bunch of those cheap little semi-disposable off-brand tupperwares
  • A strainer (or colander. Or cheesecloth. Or coffee filter.)

All the food things go in the slow cooker with a whole bunch of water:

Turn it on low and let it cook at least 8 hours. It will look basically the same when it’s done, so as long as when you pull out a bone there’s no cartilage on it you’re probably fine. It’s probably a bad idea to cook it for like a week or something, but I have definitely left it through the night and the following workday.

This next step is optional. Let it cool on the counter for a while because it’s bad to put hot stuff in the fridge. Then, you guessed it, put it in the fridge until it looks like this:


This was in my fridge for a day and some change, because last night I didn’t have time to do anything with it. Once it’s cold, pick off all the fat (and whatever is sticking to it) with a fork. I know that some people say the flavor is all in the fat, but you know what else is in the fat? The fat. Blech.

skimmed stock

From left to right: Yum, Blech

Back to the less optional. At this point I also like to reach in and pull out as much of the bones and half disintegrated veggies that I can. Since I keep my fridge very cold, that is usually but not always all of it. Now to strain!

I use some cheesecloth (when I have it) in a strainer, but I’ve also used a coffee filter and a colander. The strainer thing is much faster. Here’s what it looks like when I’m done:

used strainer

As you can see, it could probably stand to be strained again. Or put through one of those really fancy strainers for soups and stuff. But I’m more lazy than I am picky. So this looks good to me.

Once it’s all strained and depending on how strong you like it, you can get anywhere from 8-12 cups of stock per chicken. So now you have a giant pot of chicken stock. If you’re like me, you have legions of tupperware containers with lids. Or more accurately, legions of tupperware containers and legions of lids, all of which seem to surely have fit something at some point but now bear only a passing resemblance to each other. (I have no idea where the oval one came from. Maybe I stole it from someone by accident.) My solution? More containers! The snack-sized ones that hold about a cup of something are awesome:

Look, chicken stock! I have stacks of these things in the freezer. Which is where this batch is destined. And where I got these:

After about 5 minutes on the counter, you can pop the stock out like a big ice cube, which frees up your containers for the very important task of losing their lids. I keep mine in a big zip-loc bag and pull one out when I need a cup of stock.

Also, because I am a heathen, I pull them out when I need some broth. To make “broth” I add some water to the stock. I love to make rice with these. And two of them plus some chicken and veggies and pepper and salt is a soup you can make even when you’re the one with the flu. I like to make rice with it. Hell, I’ll replace the water in a lot of recipes with this stuff. You don’t want those rotisserie chickens to be a waste of money, right?