The One Thing I Do with *Every* Rotisserie Chicken I Buy

published Feb 15, 2020
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Credit: Olive & Mango

The venerable rotisserie chicken has to go down as my all-time favorite grocery store shortcut. If you don’t have one slotted into your meal plan or on your grocery list, I strongly suggest starting to do so right away, especially if you shop at Costco, where they will always be 4.99! They’re much faster and easier than roasting a whole chicken during the week. And yes, rotisserie chicken is a dinnertime savior with serious miracle meal merit, especially when 5 p.m. rolls around and you have nothing planned: Grab one at the store on your way home from work, and simply as serve it as-is. You can add some some roasted potatoes or veggies, or turn it into quick easy tacos, a weeknight soup, or even a cozy casserole.

But I’d argue that the best part of a rotisserie chicken comes after you’ve done the eating. No matter how I serve up a rotisserie chicken or how I use the leftovers, there is one thing I make a point of doing every single time I buy one. After we’ve eaten the meat (or, at least most of it), I break apart the bones or cut them with shears, then stash them in a bag in the freezer so I can make stock with it later. I save the bones every single time. The process is so easy and the stock so good, you should, too.

Credit: Kelli Foster

Rotisserie Bones Make the Easiest Stock

If you make stock, you know the value of leftovers. We totally recommend saving veggie scraps and even Parmesan rinds in the freezer to make stock — as well, of course, as the bones from your roast chicken. Well, the bones from your rotisserie chicken are just as worthy, if not more so. A rotisserie chicken is absolutely no different. Trust me, I’ve been doing this for years.

After the meal, I load up the bones in a sturdy zip-top freezer bag (I like the gallon size bags) and stash it in the back of the freezer until I have a chance to make stock. And when that time comes around sometimes there’s even two or three carcasses in there. If there’s leftover meat we don’t get around to eat I toss that in, as well, along with the wings.

Make a Scrappy Stock with *Whatever* You Have Handy

I’m a strong believer that making stock at home should always be easy and cheap. You won’t find me precisely measuring the ratio of chicken bones to onion and carrot, counting peppercorns, wrapping anything in cheesecloth, or buying raw chicken meat specifically for the stock pot. There’s certainly value in making that kind of measured recipe, but frankly I don’t have time or resources, especially when making a casual stock from leftovers works (and tastes) so good. Plus, even a weak stock tends to be more satisfying than using water.

I start my stock with whatever chicken bones I have in the freezer. Sometimes it’s from one bird, sometimes from three. Sometimes I just have bare bones, and sometimes there’s meat attached. Then I add in vegetable scraps from my freezer bag, like celery ends, carrot peels, onion skins and heels, and maybe some parsley stems. I’ll also grab any lingering veggies from the crisper, maybe leeks, onions, or mushrooms.

Once everything is in the pot, I cover it with water and let it simmer for as much time as I have. More time on the stove means a more flavorful stock, but even if I only have an hour, I’ve found I can get a decent stock. If I’m pressed for time I might use my Instant Pot to make stock, which often yields a very rich, thick stock. If I have time to let it cook all day, I’ll use the slow cooker.

Try These Methods for Making Chicken Stock

Your turn: Have you tried using rotisserie chicken to make stock? Share your experience with us in the comments below!