Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Chicken Stock 101

Submitted by Michelle

Despite the crazy summer heat of the desert, I still love a nice bowl of soup every now and then. Nothing too heavy mind you, like a chowder, but something brothy and fresh. Since most soups call for some form of stock, I always like to have some on hand. And while chicken and vegetable stocks are readily available in the grocery store, I find it cheaper to make my own and I love the scent that fills my house when a simmering pot of vegetables, spices and chicken bones are on the stove.

It doesn't take much to make stock. I usually start with carrots, celery, onions, bay leaf, peppercorns, allspice (optional) and Italian parsley (if I have it on hand).
The proportions are up to you, but generally I use 1 large onion (I have small onions here, that's why there are more) the leafy tops of celery, 2-3 carrots (skin on), 2 bay leaves (because I have TONS and want to get rid of them), 6-8 peppercorns, 2 allspice and a handful of parsley. Keep in mind that this is just stock, not a souffle and you really can't ruin it. And because you are making stock, not soup, you don't need to chop the veggies up. Leave them whole or at most, give them a rough chop.

For chicken stock, chicken is a must. Here I have the bones from 4-5 chicken breasts and a lone chicken leg that was in my freezer for months on end and wasn't really in great shape for cooking and eating on its own.
You can use all parts of a chicken, including the neck. Some people even like the organs, but I don't. Lately chicken breasts have been incredibly cheap at my local grocery store so I've been buying them in large quantities. David debones them for me and I use the meat for dinners and save the bones in the freezer until I have enough to make stock. Sometimes whole chickens are incredibly cheap so I will buy a small one and use the entire thing when making stock.

This next step is optional but I do it because it makes for a really rich and savory stock. I season the bones with salt and pepper and brown them in the bottom of my pan in a little olive oil.
Once the bones are browned, I take them out and brown the vegetables as well.
Then, I put the chicken bones back in...
throw in my bay leaf, peppercorns and allspice...
lay the parsley on top...
and cover with water.
I bring the stock to a boil and then simmer it on low heat for about 2 hours. If I were using a whole chicken I would pull the carcass out after about 1 hour, take the meat off and use it for something tasty like chicken salad, and then put the bones back into the stock and continue to simmer.

Once the stock is done, I take out the large bits and discard them, and then pour the stock through a sieve into a large bowl.
This is what I'm left with.
I usually refrigerate the stock uncovered, overnight so that the fat will rise to the top and congeal.
Using a large spoon I skim off the fat and discard it.
I then laddle the stock into freezer safe Ziploc bags and keep frozen until I need it.
As you can see I proportion my stock into 3c quantities and I date it with the month and the year. I also lay the bags on a cookie sheet so they will freeze flat. It makes for easier storage and faster defrosting.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I sometimes make stock in my crockpot overnight - works very well! Thanks for sharing your methods!