Saturday, January 21, 2012

Best, Easy Homemade Chicken Stock

I love to make chicken stock.
I know a lot of people buy it in little containers.
I do too sometimes, in a pinch.  But I do regularly make my own stock.
It is really easy, and the ingredients are closer than you think. And yes, I do work full-time "plus" these days and still do it.
I also freeze it in "good to go" containers much like those little boxes that cost $3.  
Hmmmm.... lemme see, $4.99 for a chicken dinner plus about 3 equivalent boxes of stock.  Now that makes good sense and tastes WAY better!

Every time I go to Costco I buy one of their $4.99 roast chickens.  The main reason is that I love them and they taste great.  What a easy dinner, or two.  But the best reason to buy a Costco roast chicken is to make chicken stock. I know, you think I'm crazy.  But I do even make stock on a Tuesday night, when I get home, while I am making dinner just because I CAN! Obviously, you don't have to buy a roast chicken at Costco when they are available at any grocery store, but the Costco ones are VASTLY superior.  Yup, I can't lie, they are sooooooo much better, it's not even funny.  Spend $6.99 for a scrawny little chicken at Albertsons, or $4.99 for plump, juicy roast chicken at Costco.  I know what I want, and I CAN taste the difference in my stock.

I like the roast chicken carcass for a couple of reasons, the first is that it is already roasted/browned and therefore, you get lots of flavor from it, and second, it is truly the leftovers, and you are making good use of it.

Good stock uses veggies too.  You can use whole carrots, celery and onion quarters but I have a better idea.

During the week, every time I cook, I save the bits and pieces of the veggies

and throw them in a ziploc bag in the freezer, so when I am ready to make stock, I can reach in the freezer and I am ready to go.  It looks like this.

Here's what I usually save for stock
- Carrots
- Celery
- Onions (skin and all)
- Green Onions
- Leeks tops
- Garlic
- Fresh Parsley, even just the stems

I try to avoid the following because it sometimes makes it bitter, or "off" flavor, but really it IS up to you!
- Broccoli
- Bell Peppers
- Zucchini
- Radishes
- One caution about onions, don't save too many of the brown onion skins, once I used a bunch and got a much more bitter "tannin-like" broth.

I pull the chicken meat off the bones and retain it for another use (need some ideas? see below or my "Got it, Cook it" page for cooked chicken.  It's kind of hard to see from the picture, but the container on the right is bones and the one of the left is the chicken meat I pulled off.  I left a bit of chicken on the bones (because I am a lazy cook) because it tastes good in the stock.

Throw all the bones and any meaty bits you don't intend to eat at in a stock pot (mines about 12 qt), add the veggies, a bay leaf, some peppercorns and some garlic. Add water to about 2" from the top.  Bring to a boil, then immediately drop the heat to about medium low and simmer for 1-2 hours on low heat. 

Here's what it looks like after a couple hours:

Drain the broth from the veggies and bones.  Cool the stock.  If you see some especially meaty bits in the stock solids, you can 'pick the bones' as my dear ole'Mum used to say and shred any chicken bits to add to soup later on.

Once your stock is cooled in the fridge, if it stiffens up like Chicken Jello, then congratulate yourself, you have succeeded in making some slam dunking wonderful chicken stock. You can pick off the cold chicken fat that has accumulated too at this point.

I pour my stock into 4 cup containers, about 1" from the top and freeze or refrigerator.

See the white yogurt container?  I use the old containers for stock in my freezer, marking the top with STOCK.  Easy to see in the freezer and a nice way to reuse containers!

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