We are coming to end of this chicken, but can you believe how far we’ve been able to make it stretch?
Today, we’re talking stock (or broth). Chicken stock is truly a wonderful thing to make. Like my homemade veggie stock, it’s made with the scraps that you would otherwise throw away. At the store stock costs about $3 a quart. One chicken carcass (ew) will make me about a half gallon of stock. Not only is it cost effective, it tastes wonderful – far better than what you could buy, you know exactly what is in it, and costs far less.
Here’s how to make it:
Take your chicken carcass and put it in your largest stock-pot (see why it’s called that now?).
Fill pot with cold water.
Add a generous splash of white or apple cider vinegar. This will help to break down the bones and add more minerals to your stock. Let set for about a half an hour, then add chunks of celery, carrot, onion and garlic. No need to peel anything (even the onion and garlic); just give it a good scrub and a rough chop before dropping it in all the pot.
Turn on burner to high and bring to a good rolling boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for anywhere from 12 to 36 hours, adding more water as necessary. When you see foam forming on the top, skim it off with a spoon and discard.
In the last hour or two of cooking, feel free to throw in some herbs, if desired: parsley and thyme are my favorites.
Warning: Your house will smell wonderful. Make sure you have something good planned for dinner.
After you have simmered your stock for the desired amount of time, remove from heat and allow to cool. This will make it easier to handle.
Strain through a colander. If you prefer a more clear stock, you can line your colander with linen, but I usually don’t bother.
Pick through the bones and separate the meat. Store in fridge or freezer. Discard everything else (even the veggies – there is nothing of value left in the. It’s all in your stock).
There will likely be a layer of fat on the top of your stock. I generally leave it, but if you find that it makes your finished stock too oily, just place the entire bowl in the fridge. The fat will rise to the surface and harden. It can then be picked off and thrown away. (Or used to make chicken gravy.)
I like to put my finished stock in wide mouth quart jars and freeze until needed. Just don’t overfill or they could burst in the freezer. Leave a couple of inches of headroom.
I made soup with our stock for lunch yesterday.
Full disclaimer, this was actually made with turkey stock. The chicken stock wasn’t quite ready, but it smelled so good… I went to the freezer and pulled out some leftover meat and turkey stock I had made after Christmas. While it was thawing, I had Newt cut some kale from the garden. This, I sauteed with celery, carrot, onion and garlic. I added the stock, meat, a handful of pasta (though rice or barley are also good), and salt and pepper.
Lunch was on the table in less time than it would have taken to heat up frozen fish sticks.
If you have never tried cooing a whole chicken before, I hope you are feeling a little more confident about it. None of the dishes I made this week required a whole lot of special skills or equipment, but each one of them tasted great. Go ahead and try it. Don’t be chicken!