Friday, October 29, 2010

Chicken Stock Basics

This was something I did on Monday after I made roast chicken for dinner.  I had the chicken carcass anyway, why not use it?  All I had to do was simmer a chicken carcass with some veggies for a few hours.  Easy, right?It is!  So don't be afraid!  Here are some basic pointers when it comes to making your own homemade stock!

Tip #1 Use a chicken carcass you have roasted or have leftover from when you make a whole chicken dinner.  Yes, you want to use the bones, thats where the flavor is.  If you roast the chicken before hand, the leftover bits of meat still stuck to the bone will provide you with even more tasty flavor.  And you'll be getting more out of that chicken dinner you made!

Tip #2 Use the leftover bits of vegetables like celery tops and hearts, onion peels, etc.  You can throw the garlic in whole without taking off the skin, and just quarter your onions and cut your carrots and celery into manageable chunks.  No need to chop finely or uniformly.

Tip #3  Don't add any salt to this stock.  Stock is meant as a base to soups and other things like gravy and such.  You can always add salt later, but this should be very neutral so you have some versatility.

Here is my recipe for a basic chicken stock.  Of course, you can change these ingredients if you want just a veggie stock or you can make a beef or pork stock too.

Chicken Stock

carcass of one whole chicken, roasted preferably
celery hearts (the center light green stuff that's usually too soft to eat raw) and tops, and stalks if you like
carrots, washed and cut into chunks (dont need to be peeled)
onion, quartered, skins left on or not
3-4 cloves garlic, whole
bay leaf, about 3 of them
pepper corns
6 quarts water

Put everything into a large stock pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer, and simmer for about 3-4 hours, stirring every half hour or so.  It will be reduce to about half the volume, and smell like thanksgiving in your house.  Oh, and you can use a turkey for this too.  Just substitute the chicken carcass for a turkey carcass, or beef bones, or pork bones.  Or just the veggies.  Or dehydrated mushrooms.

When done simmering, Drain off your veggies and bones and just toss them in the trash (all of the nutrients and flavor have been infused into the sauce and all you have left are the skeletons of what you tossed in the pot to begin with).  You can keep this in the fridge for up to a week and use it for everything from gravy to soup to whatever else.  You can also freeze it and keep it for up to 3 months.

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