Posts tagged chicken
You know what you can get for $10? At least three meals for two and delicious homemade chicken stock. Why pay $8/lb for chicken breasts, when you can get a whole chicken for under $10 and butcher it yourself? To most people chicken “stock” is really chicken “broth” (e.g. Swanson’s) - although the Brits call broth “stock” and stock with bits, “broth”. There’s a big difference between broth – which is good in its own right – and stock which is a must for any cook who wants to make sauces, gravies, soups and especially risotto. And that difference is – collagen. Collagen is a “nasty bit” if you will, that is in the connective tissue (another nasty bit!) of mammals and it converts to sauce thickening gelatin after a long, slow cooking process. And gelatin = thick, glistening sauces.
Stock is essentially a flavored batch of water. And by flavor, I mean roasted bones, aromatics, wine, and other goodies. The great thing about stock it is really cheap to make yourself and you can control the ingredients (read: salt which, if your wife is like mine, will make for happy dinners).
Every now and again, my local market puts whole chickens on sale (typically $0.97/lb) and I buy in bulk. Five dollar chickens make me extremely giddy. They also give me an excuse to make a bunch of stock. Here’s my recipe using 2 chickens. The ingredients are loosey-goosey, so feel free to experiment.
Chicken Stock Recipe
- Two 2-3lb whole chickens, feet and heads removed (if your market rolls that way)
- Celery – 2-3 chopped stalks will work – I use the butts and tips too
- Carrots – 2-3 whole carrots, chopped – I use the leaves and butts
- Onion – 1 whole white onion, rough chopped- shallots, red onions, yellow onions, really any onion will work
- Bay (2-3 leaves, DON’T OVERDO THE BAY)
- Rosemary – couple of sprigs
- Thyme – couple of sprigs
- Oregano – eh, I usually don’t use it but if I have fresh oregano or marjoram I’ll throw a little in
- Parsley – half a bunch, stems and all
- Salt – to taste. I use ~2TSBP per chicken, it really easy to over salt, you’re not making soup.
- Whole Peppercorns – whatever you have: white, black, pink
- Wine – Some for the cook, some for the sauce. I typically use a nice (read: Trader Joe’s) well balanced white wine (1/2 bottle)
Start by roughly chopping your veggies. No need for micro 1mm x 1mm chef school cuts on this one, the final product is going to be strained, so bigger is actually better. Now bone out the chickens. What? You don’t know how to bone a chicken? First, you’ll need a degree from Johnson and Wales or Le Cordon Bleu… but I kid. It’s actually really easy!
What you want, is to takes the breasts off the bone and wrap them for later use. Also take off the legs and thighs and save them as well. So now you’re left with just a carcass that’s mostly breast bone, ribs, backbone and wing tips. Don’t worry if you’ve left a little meat on there, that actually helps.
Start by roasting the bones on a sheet pan or in a large casserole dish at 400 degrees F until they are nice and golden brown. This step isn’t necessary to make stock, but I think its adds a richer, deeper flavor to the final product. Once the bones are roasted, immerse them in COLD water in a stock pot or heavy bottom pot (like my Le Creuset in the pic above). The cold water thing is the point of some contention in the food world. While its technically not necessary from a flavor standpoint, the final product will be much more aesthetically pleasing. At this point we have not added any seasoning to the chicken bones or the water.
Crank the heat on the pot and bring the water to a boil. Then, reduce to medium/medium-low heat (slow boil). What you will notice is a white frothy “scum” coming to the surface of the water. Skim this protein scum off with a big spoon and discard. This will make the final product look gritty if you skip this step.
See all those veggies you cut? Just start adding them, all your spices, and the wine. Now like Levon and Barry say, just cook…and chill. Let the stock cook…and you chill with the rest of that delicious wine. Aw yeah.
Let the stock simmer on low for 2-3 hours (more time is better) and you should have a delicious pot of stock…along with a whole lot roughage that you need to get rid of. You can cut the heat off the pot at this point. Use a big slotted spoon or a mesh strainer to get the majority of the solid stuff out. You can toss all this because you’ve got all the goodness out of it. The final step is pouring the stock through a fine strainer ( or chinois or a china cap) and into the vessel of your choice. If you DON’T want to skim the fat, then just transfer the stock onto jars, or plastic containers and freeze what you don’t think you’ll use within a couple of weeks. If you DO want to skim the fat, strain the liquid into a container like a large bowl, cover and place in the fridge overnight. The next day all the white/yellow chicken fat will be on the top of the liquid. Just scrape off the fat (and discard) and you’re all set to portion out the stock; which will now looks like savory chicken Jello. Now enjoy your homemade, fresh chicken stock! Risotto anyone?