Often on the weekend I will cook a whole chicken in the crockpot. The chicken goes in, with a some onions, potatoes and carrots, along with some salt, poultry seasoning, and a quart or two of water. The chicken is cooked on high for a few hours until it is done.
Before serving, I lift the chicken out of the crockpot and onto a plate. This makes it easier to cut and serve- no splashing fat and broth all over the place whilst trying to fish out a carrot or potato. Then I pour the broth into a jar, and keep it in the fridge until I make soup. There are no grisly bits of chicken in the broth, because we haven't cut into it yet.
When the meal is over and we've eaten our fill, I put plastic wrap over the plate of chicken carcass and stick it in the fridge if I don't have time to part it out right away. Otherwise, I do the following:
1. Pick off the meat for use in other meals. All cooked and ready to go!
2. Pick off the skin and fat to save for rendering fat. I use this free fat to grease my egg pan in the morning, instead of buying butter. You can save the fatty pieces in a bag in the freezer until you're ready to render. There will also be some fat that rises to the top of the above-mentioned broth. You can render this as well.
3. The rest of the bones and carcass, which usually includes the neck and wings, are thrown in a freezer bag. When I have enough bones saved up, I make bone broth in the pressure canner. For those who butcher their own chickens, you can also save and use chicken feet for making excellent bone broth.
Before I discovered this method, I dreaded parting out a chicken to salvage meat and bones. I'd spend an hour it seemed, fishing around in a greasy, oily crock pot trying to find some meat. It hardly seemed worth it! Now I find it quicker and easier to be thrifty with my chicken.
What do you do with your leftover chicken carcass?