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Adventures in the Kitchen and on the Road

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Chicken Stock

I love the smell of stock simmering on the stovetop for hours. I love feeling like I've wrung every last use out of a whole chicken when I make chicken stock. First as a roasted chicken with gravy made from the giblets inside (though I'm giving up on the giblets due to the cholesterol). Then as leftovers to be recycled in other dishes. I'll stash the bones in the freezer along with vegetable scraps. And on the weekend, when enough has been gathered and I'll be home for several hours, I'll toss all of these collected scraps into the stock pot, throw in a few extra ingredients and then let it simmer away, filling the house with a smell that fools you into thinking that any minute now, a delicious dinner will be served.

small picture of chicken stock

Is it worth the extra time? The sauces, stews, and soups I've made with this homemade stock taste so much richer. Plus you can control the sodium levels of your broth which tends to be high in the already prepared ones. I usually make a big batch of chicken stock and then keep the extra stock in the freezer. Very flexible. The active time isn't really that much time. Mostly it's the cleanup at the end that's a pain.

Here's a list of some of the vegetable scraps I keep in the bag in the freezer:
garlic skins
herb stems
squash peel
asparagus stems
celery (don't include the leaves; they're bitter)
mushroom stems

  1. Put all your frozen chicken bones and vegetable scraps into a stockpot (or the biggest pot you've got). I usually have the carcass from at least 1 whole chicken and often times a second chicken and a bunch of wing bones too.
    frozen scraps in the bag

  2. Add a few fresh ingredients. You don't need to peel these.
    - 2 whole carrots snapped in half
    - 2 stalks of celery snapped in half
    - 2 cloves of garlic sliced in half, and
    - 1 medium onion, sliced in quarters
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  3. Add some salt (half a tsp?), whole peppercorns(about 10?), a bay leaf or two

  4. Fill pot with water to cover.
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  5. Cover with the lid and bring water to a boil.

  6. Lower heat to a simmer. Keep checking on it every 10 minutes for the first half hour. Skim any scum that rises to the surface. I forget what the scum is but I think you're supposed to remove it and it looks gross anyhow.

  7. Continue simmering for 4-6 hours. I prefer to let it simmer for a longer time and reduce the volume of the stock but make it concentrated. Continue skimming scum if you see any whenever you check back to make sure there's still water in the pot. It will smell maddeningly good.

  8. Once done, remove from heat. I like to use a slotted spoon and tongs to remove all the big chunks from the stock. Discard all of those chunks and bones. Pour the stock through a sieve. And voila! You've got yourself some stock.

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  9. I like to store this overnight in the fridge and then skim the congealed fat from the top the next day. I usually end up with about 4 quarts of stock. 3 quarts go into the freezer. And I keep one in our fridge. We use this stock in making sauces, soups, and stews. Depending on what we're using it for, we'll dilute the stock with some water. Enjoy!

Some other recipes the stock has gone into:
Dijon Chicken Stew with Potatoes and Kale
Chicken Marsala a la Michael
Chicken Piccata
Shepherds Pie with Leftover Chicken
Chicken in a Cherry Sauce
Tortellini in Tomato Broth
Wonton Soup
Chicken Chow Foon
Eggplant Szechuan Style
Sweeties Scalloped Potatoes
Mafaldine con Funghi

Other references:
http://food.cookinglight.com/cooking/display/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=224800 (requires subscription)

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...the house with a smell that fools you into thinking that any minute now, a delicious dinner will be served.

That's the funniest thing i've heard today. It's 0554 on Thursday. I will let you know if i hear anything funnier today. I probably won't:)

There have been times when I fell prey to that smell when I knew I was making that stock. I'd return from taking out the trash and think, "YUM! What's sweetie cooking?" before remembering that is still only at the pre-stock stage.

The first stuff that floats to the top is coagulated protein. It should be skimmed off constantly to keep your stock clear - this is called "depouillage." It also tastes bad... try it sometime. It only lasts the first 10 or 15 minutes, depending on how big a batch you're making. The second batch of stuff that floats to the top is just grease, and as you mentioned it too should be skimmed off for obvious reasons. This is the "degraisser."

Thanks for explaining what that stuff is! It's a shame the protein of the "depouillage" couldn't be incorporated in some way. Seems like I miss out on some potential nutrients of the stock that way.

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