Last month I made roast chicken with all the fixing one Sunday. I made it very simply by pouring melted butter over it and sprinkling it with salt and pepper. In the cavity I placed a bouquet of fresh sage, rosemary and thyme. It had such a wonderful aroma while it was cooking. That was the second roast chicken I’ve made in my life. I was very lucky to get a freshly butchered chicken from a local farm and it was nothing like the chicken you buy at the grocery store. Even raw it was a beautiful thing and I can’t wait to put my name on the list for the next batch of chickens.

The first time I ever roasted a chicken was something of a disaster. It was over 8 years ago. We invited my in-laws over for dinner. They had arrived and I had the chicken in the oven already. Distracted by our conversation, I checked on the chicken about 30 minutes later to discover that when I had placed the chicken into the oven that I had also turned the oven off thinking that I was turning it on. So the chicken took a lot longer than I expected. That’s where my memory fails me but I do remember there was a lot of smoke involved later on. That’s why I haven’t roasted a chicken in a very long time and instead rely on a local deli for their rotisserie chickens.

After we ate our delicious farm-fresh chicken I saved the carcass because I had read about a great way to make homemade chicken stock at Red, Round, or Green. Red, Round, or Green is on a similar mission to mine with her family although her kids seem already so much more adventurous than mine. Her ideas for school lunches are completely inspired (pumpkin pancake sandwiches!) and I can’t wait to try some out with my son who starts kindergarten in September. My daughter, I am embarrassed to say, is stuck on fluff sandwiches albeit on wheat bread and rarely lets me give her something different.

I made this in the slow cooker during a snow day when I was working from home. It smelled so good! I’ve already used some of the chicken stock in a batch of Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup with Chicken that I made on New Years’ Day. The rest I’ve frozen in 2 cup increments for later.

Homemade Chicken Stock (made in a Slow Cooker)

(adapted from Red, Green, or Round)

1 chicken carcass (from a 4-5 pound chicken)
4 carrots, quartered
4 celery stalks, quartered
2 shallots, peels on, quartered
1 Tbsp minced garlic (You can use whole cloves of garlic also but I didn’t have any.)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp salt
2 tsp dried thyme or rosemary (or a sprig or two of fresh)
12 cups water

Place the chicken carcass, vegetables, and seasonings into a slow cooker.

Add the water.  Cover and set on Low for 10-12 hours (next time I’ll do this overnight).

When the stock is done, let cool slightly, then strain through a mesh sieve into a large bowl or pot, using the back of a wooden spoon to press the moisture out of the solids to get as much stock as possible.  Discard all solids.  I picked off all the pieces of chicken that were still on the carcass to use in my soup. You can use the stock immediately, or cool in the refrigerator so that any fat rises to the top and solidifies.  Then you can scrape the fat off the top and discard.  This recipe makes about 8 cups of finished stock, which freezes perfectly.