Cooking Essentials–Chicken Stock

Hi there. Grab a cup of coffee and let’s dive right in today.

If you are not making chicken stock, the base for a zillion soups, after you use bone in chicken, you are throwing money away. So grab a great big pot and let’s get cooking.

Chicken stock is easy. Once you learn it you never forget it. It tastes better and is much much cheaper than buying the canned stuff at the store. In fact, once you make it, the store stuff tastes terrible.

Let’s begin.

The standard freshman text for CIA ( Culinary Institute of America) calls for chicken bones, cold water, mirepoix ( basically, 2 part onion to each part of carrot and celery ,) and a standard sachet d’ épices ( standard contains: parsley stems, cracked peppercorns, dried thyme and a bay leaf ) with salt optional.

Well, fail me, now. ‘Cause that isn’t quite how I make it. I find theirs lovely, but flat.

I like a fullness … dare I say… body to my stock.

Ditch the textbook and give this a try.

Chicken Stock

Ingredients:

Chicken bones — preferably the entire carcass from a roaster

Contents of the giblet bag, if you saved it.

2 medium onions — with all the easy to peel skin taken off

Celery — from 1 bunch, all the leafy tops and those little useless stalks in the middle

Carrot — Oh, about four full sized, cleaned. Peel ’em if you like, but I never do

12 whole cloves

1 Tablespoon of whole peppercorns

6 Bay leaves, maybe even 8

Salt — to taste at very end

Procedure:

1. In a big pot, most likely your biggest at home, put in the chicken bones, celery and carrots.

2. Stud the onions with the cloves and toss that in.

Why? It is just a little easier later, when you strain it.

3. With the flat edge of your chef’s knife, crack the peppercorns, then toss them in.

4. Drop in the bay leaves.

This is where the fullness of your stock is derived. Six is a minimum. If I have less than 6 on hand, I won’t even bother. I give mine a little squeeze just to break them up slightly. Not to much, because you want to be able to strain them out.

5. Cover the everything with water to within about 1″ from the top of the pot.

6. Bring it to a boil over high heat.

7. Put a lid on it and reduce the heat to medium low.

This is different for every stove. Basically, you want it to boil lightly the entire time. The lid allows the pot to boil at a much lower heat setting. Therefor, way less energy is used.

8. Cook it forever.

Sometimes this means 4 hours sometimes 6. Go ahead. Get a clean spoon and taste it. It should taste rich and comforting. If you are doing it in a pressure cooker, it takes about 1 hour from when it achieves pressure. Obviously, the pressure cooker is the more cost effective choice here.

9. When you feel that it has achieved a rich enough flavor, strain out everything, leaving just the liquid.

I hate this part. Smells great, but looks gross. And inevitably, I burn my hands in my excitement.

That’s it. You made stock. Congratulations!

Notes:

Some people will tell you … no, no, no, add your onion, celery, carrots and spices after about 3 hours of cooking. Thank them for their input. Then, blatently ignore them. You want every tiny bit of nutrition and flavor those ingredients have to offer. Throw them in at the beginning and they essential turn to mush. Ah, but the flavor.

(sigh)

Well, it is just the best.

When you turn it into soup, you can add additional chopped veggies then, if you like. This method is especially good for the picky eater. Got a picky kid? Can’t see the vegetable. So there must not be any in there right?

Shh. It will be our little secret.

My favorite thing to do with the finished stock is add extra wide egg noodles. Cook them until the are just a bit firmer than you would normally eat them. Refrigerate the whole soup for 24 hours allowing the noodle to absorb some of the stock. Reheat and serve.

Always keep a container in your freezer to collect the bones and celery tops ’til you are ready to make stock like I mentioned on 3/11/09.  Just click the date on the calendar on the right.

You could just preserve the stock in mason jars using a pressure canner, but mine always gets eaten first no matter how hard I try.

Well, I’m off to roast a chicken … now that I have drooled all over my keyboard.

Did you try the stock? Any problems? Let me know. I can usually figure out what went wrong and help you fix it.

Don’t forget to check out today’s freebie. You can find it over there on the right.

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