Using a whole chicken is the most economical way to enjoy local pastured chicken (as opposed to buying the individual cuts). Here’s what I do:
1- In the evening, I take the chicken out to thaw at room temperature.
2- In the morning, I place it in my crockpot with 1-2 cups of water and sprinkle with some seasoning. I cook it on low all day or on high for a few hours, until the meat is tender and falling off the bone.
3- In the evening, I disassemble the chicken (is there a better word than disassemble?!).
Meat: I cut the meat into chunks and freeze in a ziploc bag for soups, casseroles, etc.
Skin: I save the skin to make Crispy Baked Chicken Skins.
Bones, cartilage, fat: Literally every part of the chicken that ISN’T meat or skin goes back into the crock pot. I add about a quart more water to the crockpot along with about 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (this pulls the nutrients from the bones and makes for a more nutritious stock!). I turn the crock pot on again and continue to cook for about 24 hours. (If you don’t want the heat or smell of chicken stock in your house, you can put the crock pot in the garage.) Then, I strain out the chicken scraps and am left with about a quart of stock- more nutritious than anything you could buy at the store! By this time, the bones are soft enough that we feed all the scraps from the chicken stock to our cats and dogs.
So no part of the chicken goes wasted and one whole chicken will feed us for several meals!