Whole Canned Chicken Is Your Secret Weapon For Cheap Broth Bones

There are plenty of instances where using store-bought ingredients is fine, but some chefs think chicken broth isn't one of them. Ina Garten, for example, gives homemade chicken stock her endorsement and recommends only using store-bought in the direst circumstances. However, it should be noted that Garten's homemade stock recipe calls for three entire roasting chickens! So, if you don't have a Food Network-sized commercial refrigerator or an endless budget for stock, this might not be a realistic recipe for you. 

Instead, turn to the canned food aisle (or online grocer) and find a can of whole chicken like Sweet Sue's, which costs around $5. The idea of an entire cooked chicken squeezed into a can might give you a bit of an ick factor but think about the canned white chicken breast you probably buy for chicken salad. Sweet Sue's product contains fully cooked chicken, salt, and water, which isn't dissimilar to the ingredients in many canned meats. The only difference is that whole canned chicken includes bones, the primary ingredient in your broth or stock. Plus, it's shelf-stable, so you can keep it on hand without worrying about an expiration date or needing to thaw out an entire bird. Not only is canned chicken affordable and versatile, but using this one ingredient also makes homemade chicken broth — and other chicken recipes — much easier.  

How to use canned whole chicken

When making homemade chicken stock, all you need is the bones. First, you'll want to separate the meat from the bones before throwing them into a large soup pot, but it's not the end of the world if a bit of meat stays attached. The canned chicken comes fully cooked, so you only need to sauté the bones in oil for a few minutes. Then, add in your food scraps like carrots, onions, garlic, dill, and other herbs. You can even use these bones to fortify a store-bought boxed broth. Leave the stock to simmer for about 4 hours or until the bones have broken down enough to release their marrow. 

While you may think it's best to discard canned chicken meat, it's still perfectly okay to use in myriad recipes. For example, you could easily add it to a soup, pot pie, or coronation chicken salad to save yourself the time and energy it takes to prep and cook a whole chicken. Keep an open mind, and don't throw the chicken out with the canned chicken water.