We love chicken around here and I love making one chicken go as far as possible.
My new favorite and super easy way to cook a whole chicken is in the crockpot. It's so simple and so delicious. You throw the chicken in, season and put on low for 6-8 hours. Really, what could be simpler?
So, in keeping with stretching that chicken as far as it can possibly go, I make chicken broth/stock from it. And I do it the easy way, also!
Note: this is usually done just after dinner since I've cooked the chicken to have some for dinner. Once I remove the chicken from the crockpot, I let it cool until it is manageable, then get to work separating it. I remove all the good meat (to freeze), then put EVERYTHING (skin, giblets, bones, etc.) back into the crockpot with whatever liquid the chicken has already given off. I then chop an onion, 2-3 celery stalks and 2-3 carrots and throw them in (you don't have to bother peeling the veggies since it will all be strained out later). Add enough COLD water to fill my pot about 1/2" from the top and add desired seasoning. Put the lid back on and leave it on low until the next morning (I usually don't have time to tend to it until after breakfast).
I turn it off and let it cool for a while, then strain the "stuff" thru a mesh strainer into a large pot. I do discard all the "stuff" that gets strained out and then I strain the liquid once more through a super fine mesh strainer. Once cooled a bit more, I then transfer into pint (2 cup) jars or pint freezer containers (whichever I have available). I then let it cool completely in the fridge and skim off the fat that has floated to the top. The following morning, once I'm certain it's cooled completely, I transfer the containers to the freezer for later use.
Tip: If you start with a cold chicken and don't add any water to it while it's cooking (it will give off it's own broth), the stock you make later will be more gelatinous because the bones release their gelatin better when they start off cold, rather than shocked with hot water.
Be sure to visit The Stock Exchange over at Parenting the Tiniest of Miracles today for more great recipes and tips for making stock.