I admit that we eat rotisserie chicken from Publix every now and then. It is just so tasty, and so easy for weeknight meals. I have a full time job, and a one hour plus commute each way, which means by the time I get home, I am rarely thrilled about cooking. But of course, we must eat, and 100% of the time getting a rotisserie chicken and some mashed potatoes is cheaper AND healthier than going to a restaurant, ordering take out, or worse, going to a chain burger joint. So, don’t dis the rotisserie chicken. There are only three of us in the house though (two and a half, really), however, and we never finish the chicken; there’s always quite a bit leftover. I don’t usually do anything meal-wise with the leftover meat so most times I just make stock.
I know you are probably thinking it’s easier to make the chicken and buy the stock than to buy the chicken and make the stock so why bother?…but I disagree. Rotisserie chicken is delicious, so no flavor lost from home cooking, BUT pre-packaged store bought stock (or broth) is pretty flavorless, especially when compared to the homemade variety. Furthermore, making stock from leftover rotisserie chicken, or just chicken you roasted yourself, is very easy, and while it takes time to cook, it’s almost entirely hands off, inactive time.
So, to make the stock you will need:
1 rotisserie/roast chicken carcass with some meat
2 medium onions, no need to peel
8 oz carrots, more or less, no need to peel
2 celery stalks, broken in half
a few sprigs of thyme
a few sprigs of rosemary
a small handful of sage leaves
1 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp salt
5 qt water
large bowl or another stockpot
containers for the finished stock (I reuse the plastic tubs that come with some Chinese delivery)
Gather the carcass and any leftover meat, skin, bones, etc. Place it in the stockpot. Add the onions (whole or halved, doesn’t matter), carrots, celery, herbs, peppercorns, and salt. Add the water. Place the stockpot on high heat, and bring to a boil. When it starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for two and a half hours. You may need to skim the foam off the top every once in a while.
Line the strainer with two layers of cheesecloth, and place over the bowl or second stockpot.
When the cooking time has elapsed, use a slotted spoon to remove the large chunks of chicken and vegetables from the stock. Discard them. Carefully, pour the liquid through the stainer and into the bowl. Discard the cheesecloth and its contents.
Allow the stock to cool completely. If a layer of fat forms at the surface, you may simply pick it up and discard it if you prefer a lower fat version of the stock. Transfer to appropriate, freezer safe containers and freeze until ready to use.
Makes approximately 31/2 quarts
Listen, this is not an exact science. Change the herbs to what you have at hand, add more carrots or less celery if you want, use leeks instead of onions, etc. Go crazy. Don’t have peppercorns? No problem, just add ground pepper. Clearly, the only thing that MUST be there is the chicken. That said, watch out for the salt. The chicken is already seasoned, and you will almost certainly season whatever dish you use the stock in, so there is no need to add much more salt. When it comes time to use the stock, use it as you would use store-bought broth/stock, and prepare to have your mind blown.
PS. Technically, there is a difference between stock and broth, but for all intents and purposes of most home use, they are interchangeable (the products, not the terms). If you must know, the traditional difference is that stock is made from bones, and can be gelatinous, and broth is made from meat. Stock is always meant to be used as a base for other dishes (and thus not seasoned), and broths can be eaten (drunk?) by themselves. If you cook this stock longer, around 4 to 6 hours or so, the bones will give up their gelatin and the flavor will be much more intense. That is fine, and I go that route some times, but for most use, I prefer to stop before that happens.