Chicken? Don’t Compost!

05 Sep

You probably already know that roasting a chicken for ONE meal gives you enough leftovers for TWO MORE meals.  So, pretend I didn’t tell you that.  Typically, I roast a chicken (always organic, pastured if I can get it) every week.  That might seem like a lot, but there is usually one gloomy day when we want comfort food.  And when there is not, I make a recipe like this.

This bears repeating: Do not compost chicken or chicken bones!  Don’t compost any of the herbs or citrus or anything you may have stuffed inside the cavity or veggies that you have roasted alongside.  If you want animals digging in your compost heap, adding protein is like sending out a hand engraved invitation to every raccoon, squirrel, and rodent within ten miles.  Also, it’s a potential source of pathogens and that’s even worse.  So, it makes sense to get every bit of use from that chicken before you have to dump it in the trash.

From these ingredients can you guess what chicken meals two and three were?

chicken stock 9.5.13

What you can see (clockwise from top):

  • Carrot peels
  • Pear core
  • Very yellow cucumber skin (lots of rain this summer, remember?)
  • Onion skin
  • Orange peel
  • Parsnip peel (also in center of bucket)
  • Lemon
  • Eggshell
  • Basil stem

From this bucket, I made a cool lemon chicken salad.  I simply picked off the leftover meat and mixed with a peeled & seeded cucumber, a handful of fresh sliced basil, juice & zest from one lemon, and a tablespoon of mayo.  Lots of pepper and a little salt along with a handful of arugula and piled on a little buttery sandwich bun.  I should have taken a picture.  It was an easy, pretty and YUMMY lunch.

I also made my indispensable, old standby chicken stock.  If you’ve never made stock before, get our your stockpot (or crock pot) and simmer a batch on a cool morning.  There any number of recipes but I’ll share my go to with you:

Chicken Stock

  • roasted chicken carcass with meat picked from bones
  • onion, medium studded with cloves, about 12-15
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled & trimmed, cut in 2-3 pieces
  • 1-2 parsnips, peeled & trimmed, cut in 2-3 pieces
  • 1-2 stalks celery, don’t remove leaves
  • small bunch of parsley if you have it
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • teaspoon each whole allspice & black peppercorns, tied in cheesecloth, or loose if you don’t mind straining
  • Generous tablespoon or more of real salt
  • filtered water to cover (4-6 quarts for my pot)

Add chicken to stockpot & cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil.  Immediately turn down to simmer and remove any scum from surface.  When water is clean, add all other ingredients.  Bring back to a boil, immediately turn down to a low simmer, cover with lid cracked to emit steam, and simmer for at least 4 hours, or for most of the day.  Make sure it is simmering at the lowest setting and not boiling or it will be cloudy.

When done, allow to cool.  Remove carcass and discard (trash).  My kids like to eat the root veggies, but I discard everything else.  Strain soup to remove any extra spices or debris.  Then you can add noodles and more veggies for a chicken soup, or use stock for any recipe that calls for chicken stock.  I keep this in fridge if I know I’ll use it in 3-4 days, or freeze it in wide-mouth mason jars for longer storage.

Homemade chick stock makes your house smell divine and tastes better than any store bought stock.  Plus, you can customize it endlessly. Switch out veggies and herbs.  I like to add chili peppers and a cinnamon stick if I’m making a spicy corn chowder, or leeks and garlic if I am making potato soup.


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