Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Homemade Chicken Stock

So now you have a chicken carcass... lucky you! Seriously. You have the stuff of kitchen gold. The stuff cooks dream of. You can make homemade chicken stock. 

You've seen my snarky "preferably homemade" quip when I put it in recipes, but I do this for a reason. Homemade chicken stock has remarkable depth of flavor that is tough to find in store bought stock. Not to mention, when you make it yourself you can exert much more control over the sodium. You wouldn't believe how much the canned stuff has!

A little effort after a roasted chicken gives you a big yield and can stretch to punch up recipes for weeks to come.

So confession... I keep a crazy lady bag of chicken bones and another of veggie scraps in my freezer. Very Grey Gardens hoarder. I actually have a weird hatred of throwing away/wasting food, so my bags o' crazy in the freezer are perfect to assuage. Onion skins... keep 'em. Carrot peels...keep 'em. Celery leaves... keep 'em. Mushroom stems... okay you get it. 

Dump all that crazy freezer goodie in you biggest pot and add some extra carrots, celery and seasoning. Cover with water and let it simmer for at least two hours.

Your house will start smelling really good and the broth will be golden. Turn off the heat and remove the big chunks using a slotted spoon. You can discard the bones and veggies at this point they've done their job.

You'll need to allow the stock to cool before removing to containers. If it's cold outside, cover and put out there to cool. It will go much quicker and you'll drive your neighbor's cat crazy.

Place a fine mesh strainer over the container and give one last strain to catch all the tiny bits.

I keep take-out containers to freeze stock in. It's an issue in my marriage, because it drives my husband batty. But they're perfect for this. They hold about 4 cups each, which is typically about how much I use at at time. You could certainly freeze in smaller containers, if that's convenient for you. You may also drive your husband less crazy.

Homemade Chicken Stock
1 chicken carcass OR bones from 4 chicken breasts
3 cups onion scraps OR 3 onions peeled and quartered
5 carrots, cut into big chunks
5 stalks celery and leaves
1 cup mushroom stems
3 tablespoons Herbes de Provence
4 bay leaves
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
12 cups water

Place the carcass, vegetables and spice in a large pot and cover with water. Add more water if necessary to cover all ingredients. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 2 hours.

Remove from heat and then use a slotted spoon to remove large chunks. Allow stock to cool and then strain into plastic containers. Freeze for up three months.

*This ingredient list is a suggestion. You can add more or less, based on what you have in the fridge. 

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