Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How to Make Chicken Stock

Swanson's may think they have the secret to good cooking, but homemade chicken stock is magic you can add to your cooking. It adds huge flavor to so many things. I make it whenever I can and store it in the freezer. Much more economical than buying the stuff in cans or cartons. Oh, and did I mention the flavor? Seriously. I can make a recipe using canned broth then make the same thing using homemade stock and my family will ask what I did differently (just so we're on the same page, it's because they think it rocks).

Odds and ends:
* This can be made on the stove top or in a crock pot, but stove top gives the best results.
* Freeze in 1/2 c, 1 c and 2 c portions to accommodate a range of uses.
* Best not to add salt to your stock since you'll be adding both salt and stock to recipes.
* Chill the stock before freezing. This will allow you to easily remove excess fat.
* Save vegetable scraps like onion tops and peels, celery leaves, garlic peels, carrot peels, etc. in a bag or container in your freezer. Add to your stock directly from the freezer. Cheap and easy.
* Likewise, save bones in the freezer. Once you get a pile, make stock.
* Simmer the stock; don't boil. Boiling will give you a cloudy stock. A cloudy stock will give you cloudy soups and sauces. If you don't care about that, then that's OK too.
* If after chilling the stock, it is gelatinous...you've done an excellent job.

This isn't hard; just time-consuming. Do it on a cold rainy Saturday when you aren't doing anything anyway.

Chicken Stock (White Stock)
from Ms. enPlace

You'll need:
chicken or chicken bones (heck, I've even used the carcass of a rotisserie chicken)
onions, celery, garlic and/or vegetable peelings
parsley (optional)
cheesecloth and kitchen twine (optional)
big pot

Step 1: Fill a large pot (a stock pot!) with cold water. Start with cold water because hot water can leach out impurities, such as proteins, from the chicken. This results in a gnarly looking stock...grainy-looking bits of chicken protein floating around. Not good.

Step 2: Coarsely chop vegetables such as onions, celery, and carrots. Half or quarters is fine. Garlic doesn't need to be chopped. Or, use vegetable peelings that you've saved in the freezer. Or a little of both. Up to you.

Step 3: Get your seasonings in order. I always use peppercorns. If I have parsley or other fresh herbs, I use them. If not, then I don't. I don't buy things in order to make stock. I make stock with what I have. I'm cheap like that.
This can be approached in one of two ways.

The fancy way: Place your seasonings, such as peppercorns and herbs, on a square of cheesecloth. Wrap into a package (bouquet garni) and tie with kitchen twine. If you want to be clever, make sure the twine you cut is long enough to tie off to your pot handle. Easy to fish out. Be sure to tell everyone what an awesome idea that is.

The git er dun way: throw everything in the dang pot because you'll be strainin' this mess later anyway!

Step 4: In addition to the seasonings (no salt!), place your chicken or chicken bones and the vegetable materials in the water. Looks like a pretty sad chicken soup.

Step 5: Bring everything JUST to a boil, but do not actually boil. Since I didn't have much in the way of fresh vegetables, I added a bag of veg scraps directly from the freezer.

Step 6: Lower to a simmer and simmer all day long. Many hours. It's worth it.

Step 7: After the stock has simmered all day and has reduced down, strain what's in your pot. Reserve the liquid. That's the part you want...just makin' sure.

Chill the stock (I like overnight). The fat will solidify on the surface, making it incredibly easy to remove. Much easier than skimming off as a liquid.

Step 8: Divide and freeze. Portion in varying amounts (1/2 c, 1 c, 2 c) to make this project even more useful. Label and freeze.

1 comment:

Ozzylynn said...

Nice! I really appreciate your recipe. I'm from Monroe, LA (lived in Houma a while), and I can't compost in the winter here in Reno, NV and was just wasting all my scraps. You're awesome.