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I have a dark confession to make.  At any given moment in time I have multiple bags in my freezer with the word “carcass” written on them. It’s a Dahmer-like obsession with rich and delicious stock…that good, homemade stuff that makes Swanson cry with shame. Chicken carcasses, turkey carcasses, ham bones…just because you’ve devoured all that meat doesn’t mean there isn’t still some greatness inside those bones. I toss my sad, little skeletons (sorry vegans…but, really, why are you even here reading this?) into freezer bags and save them for when I have an hour or two free to turn them into something delicious.

Tonight I was making soup, so I pulled a bag labelled “chicken carcass” out of my freezer and promptly got to work.

This super simple recipe serves as a delicious base for so many more main dishes, gravies, and soups.

After cooking your stock, let it cool and ladle it into quart sized freezer bags, then lay them flat to freeze for easy storage.  Simply pull one out every time a recipe calls for broth, stock or even water and dazzle your guests with rich flavor.  That’s right…DAZZLE.

To be more metal about the whole thing, consider labeling your stock bags “carcass soup”…just an idea.

Stock will keep for about 6 months in the freezer.

Here’s what you’ll need:


  • 1 chicken carcass (this one is from a chicken I roasted around Valentine’s Day)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 lemon (or not)
  • handful of carrots (baby or quartered full size)
  • bay leaves (about 4-6)
  • 4-6 stalks of celery
  • handful of parsley
  • salt/pepper

Place your carcass of choice into a large, heavy stock pot.  Like I said, this little chicken’s frozen and not looking too appetizing right now.  Tossing him in frozen is just fine.


Dump in a big handful of carrots.


Add 4-6 bay leaves. I use bay leaves in anything with liquid. It’s just what I learned growing up in LA. To be perfectly honest, I’m not even entirely sure what flavor they add. Having said this, I remain steadfast that are imperative and cannot be left out. 😉

imageNow quarter an onion and add that to the pot.

imageNow’s the time when I quarter a lemon and add that to the pot. There’s some dispute over the lemon addition so if it’s not to your taste, feel free to omit it. I just think it adds a fresh, bright flavor.

imageNow all that’s left to add is your celery and parsley. Just shove ’em in there.

Now add a palmful of salt and a palmful of black peppercorns to season.

All that’s left to do now is cover it all with water, up to the brim, and bring to a rolling boil.  I lay a wooden spoon across the top of the pot to keep it from boiling over. I found that little gem of a tip on a “life hack” blog. I like to read those to keep an up to date list of people who I think deserve to die for using the phrase “life hack”.

After about ten minutes, turn the heat down but keep your stock at a low boil for about an hour or until the water line has gone down from the rim at least an inch and a half or two inches. Then, make yourself a little setup like this one (always in the sink to avoid catastrophe), and slowly pour out your pot…bones, veggies, carcass soup and all.

The colander will catch the solids and leave you with a bowl of rich, delicious goodness that’ll have you ready to get busy cookin’ or get busy dyin’ (gratuitous Shawshank reference for no reason at all).

imageEnjoy your new found Swanson-less, flavor-full life. You’re welcome!