Monday, February 11, 2013

Back to Basics 10 - Homemade Chicken Stock

I use SO MUCH chicken stock. I throw it in everything from soups and sauces to quinoa and mashed potatoes, so it makes sense for me to make my own. Plus, store-bought stock SUCKS. It just has no flavor! Plus, with homemade you get even more benefits than just better flavor.

This stock couldn't be easier to make. Whenever I roast chicken, I keep the bones in a zip lock bag in the freezer for when I'm ready to use them. Or sometimes, if I'm a party or a dinner and I know the host well, I may or may not ask (aka annoy) them to give me the bones. Then you just gather up some kitchen staples and leave it cooking on the stove, the longer the better. SO EASY! Try to use as many organic ingredients as you can.

Don't worry if you don't have some of these ingredients, the point of stock is to throw in anything that's about to go bad. But please don't throw veggies in that are ALREADY bad. That would not make for a good chicken stock. You can also add any veggies you like! I made this chicken stock during the recent blizzard so I couldn't go out to the grocery store to get some of the missing ingredients. This is all about what you've got at home.
(Recipe for vegetable stock on the bottom)

-Chicken bones (fresh or frozen), this works for any other bones you've got like pork or beef.
-1 large onion, cut in half (no need to peel)
-2 carrots, cut into 3-inch chunks
-4 garlic cloves (again, no peeling)
-2 celery ribs, cut into 3-inch chunks
-1 leek (white and green parts), cut into 3-inch chunks (I didn't have any this time but if  you can get it, it will add A LOT of flavor)
-A couple of scallions/green onions
-1 ripe tomato (I didn't have this but you probably will)
-1 lemon, cut in half
-The rind of parmesan cheese
-1 dried bay leaf
-A few sprigs of fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon of dried
-A few sprigs of fresh parsley, or 1 teaspoon of dried
-A few sprigs of fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon of dried
-10 whole black peppercorns
-Salt, to taste
-1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar

-Put the chicken bones in a heavy pot. I use a cast iron dutch oven.

Throw in the rest of your ingredients.

Fill the pot with enough water so that it's 1-2 inches over the contents.

-Bring to a boil and skim off any foam.

-Reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, for at least 2 hours. I cooked it for 4 hours. Either way, make sure it has a rich flavor. I don't like mine to have a lot of salt because I want to add salt to whatever dish I'm making.

-Set a sieve over a mixing bowl and pour the stock through it. Discard all the veggies, spices and bones. Taste your stock and make sure you like it. Let the stock sit in the fridge overnight, then in the morning skim off any fat that collects at the top (fat cap).

Throw that fat out, girl! Or boy.

This is your finished product. You can store it in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for 6 months. You can freeze it in an ice cube tray so you have small amounts to add to anything. I like to measure out different sizes and freeze them. Whatever your method, make sure to thaw in the fridge or microwave.

You can also make this in a crock pot. Add the same ingredients, add water to cover them. Turn your crock pot on low for 8 hours. And follow the same directions as up top.

Note: If you want to make a vegetable stock, use this same method. Use any fresh vegetables! Make sure to keep stems from mushrooms, broccoli, kale or anything like that throughout your week and add that to the stock. Use the same herbs and spices. Cook this for 2 hours though, 4 might be too much.

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