Monday, September 26, 2011

Chicken Stock

So, I found myself with some chicken carcasses that needed to get used up. And I love making soup with homemade chicken stock. It's got a richness that boxed stocks and broths just can't match. And it gives another use to a chicken carcass.

I always save the carcass after roasting a chicken. If I'm not going to use it right away, I put it in a plastic bag and freeze it until I'm ready.

I also supplemented the stock with some chicken backs. I found some on sale and bought them with the sole intent of stock.

The chicken carcass has already been roasted, but the backs needed some color. I browned them in some olive oil.

Browning them will add additional color and flavor to your stock.

I also save and freeze the chicken necks. They're perfect for stock, too.

To give the stock more flavor and color, I use onion, celery, and carrots. This is a great use for carrots going rubbery, onions going dry, and the rooty part of the celery. They get a rough chop. No need to make everything uniform or tiny.

Once all your chicken parts have gotten as much color as possible, remove them from the pot and throw in your vegetables.

The vegetables will soak up all that golden-brown meaty goodness left behind by the chicken backs. Once they're slightly softened and colored, you can throw in the chicken pieces. Pour in enough water to cover everything.

A bay leaf or two, and a palmful of whole peppercorns will add even more flavor.

And, I'll admit it--I add a bouillon cube, too. I find it adds a depth of flavor and a little richness.

Then the pot gets left alone to simmer.

You JUST want it to simmer. Lightly simmer. If you let it boil, your stock will be cloudy. It will also evaporate faster, leaving you with less stock in the end.

Skim off the scum while the stock simmers.

I let the stock simmer all day. I usually start it in the morning, and then use the stock to make soup for dinner.

When the stock is richly colored and has your house smelling amazing, you can strain out the vegetables and other solids. I just use a sieve or strainer but you could use cheesecloth if you're particular about having the clearest stock possible.

With minimal effort, you'll find yourself with a rich, clear stock perfect for soup, rice, risotto, or anything else you might want it for. I pour the stock into plastic containers and freeze them for later use. Try it in place of boxed or canned broth--you'll be able to tell the difference immediately. Give it a try--it's easy to make and easy to keep on hand.

Recipe: Chicken Stock
*One chicken makes about a quart to a quart and a half of stock. I usually use at least a whole chicken plus chicken backs/parts or two chickens, and separate them proportionately between my 6 qt. stock pot and 8 qt. stock pot. I have also made chicken/turkey stock and chicken/duck stock with great success.

1 chicken carcass
2-3 large carrots, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly c hopped
2-3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 large bay leaf (or two small)
palmful of whole peppercorns
1 chicken bouillon cube


Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Add enough water to cover completely. Simmer gently for at least 3-4 hours, or more if desired. Strain and use as desired.

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