Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Taking stock: chicken, that is.

Our finicky dog has been eating a lot of roasted chicken lately. It's one of the only things he'll eat, in fact. Not one for wasting food, I've been setting aside the remaining bones after pulling all the meat off. 

Stock in process - note the browned chicken bone!
It's so easy to make this stock and freeze it (in one-cup and two-cup containers) that I find myself making it pretty often. The shortcuts here are using the already roasted chickens, and not doing a lot of prep with the veggies such as peeling them. This stock adds a lot more flavor to recipes than the sodium-laden foil-wrapped cubes. 

You'll need are a large stock pot (I like the kind that is more tall than wide), large spoon and a large mesh sieve. I brown the chicken bones first because this creates a nice crust and flavor which is imparted into the broth. The caramelized bits created by the chicken are incorporated into the broth when you add the water.

1. Heat a couple teaspoons of olive oil in the stock pot over medium heat. Add in the chicken bones, and brown them on all sides.

2. Add in the following ingredients and stir gently with the chicken bones to allow all to saute:
  • 2-3 carrots, ends discarded and chopped into large chunks 
  • 3 stalks celery, ends discarded and chopped into large chunks
  • 2 medium onions, cut into chunks
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed (you can even leave the skin on)

3. Pour in enough cold (filtered) water to completely cover the contents plus another inch or so of water. Add:
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • About 12 peppercorns
  • Up to 2 tsp. of kosher, Himalayn pink rock, or French Grey salt
  • About 6 sprigs of fresh parsley (stems and all)

4. Bring it to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer. Occasionally skim off any yucky looking stuff as you walk by over the next 5 or 6 hours. 

5. Turn off the heat, let it cool for about 30 minutes (stir every few minutes to get it to cool more effectively). Strain in batches through the mesh sieve into a large bowl, pressing gently with the spoon on the veggies to get flavor and water out. If you want to make the stock as lean as possible, but the bowl in the fridge overnight so you can capture any fat on top the next day. Or, portion into containers and freeze.

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