Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Homemade Chicken Stock

Well, cold season had continued to plague our home. That means lots of chicken soup. That means lots of homemade chicken stock! Making your own chicken stock is quite easy and not very time consuming. I prefer to make mine in a pot on the stove, but it can easily be done in the crock-pot left unattended. Many recipes call for a whole chicken, but I find this unnecessary and not my favorite flavor.

I start by saving chicken parts and pieces. Bought a rotisserie chicken last night? Save those bones after you pick the meat off. If you don't intend to make stock within a few days throw them in a ziplock bag and into the freezer. I do this all of the time. Did you cut up a chicken and don't know what to do with the spine or neck or have been wondering what to do with that turkey neck from Thanksgiving? Turn them into stock! Turkey stock is one of my favorites as it is a bit more rich than chicken stock. I also save these parts in the freezer until I have time to make stock.

Making stock is just this simple. Take your chicken parts and bones and put them in a big pot on the stove. Cover them with water. You may add an onion chopped up, some garlic, or some celery. I often find that the spices of the rotisserie chicken add enough flavor. But if you like, you can add some thyme, rosemary or sage. Use the seasonings sparingly. That way your stock can be used in almost any recipe. I do find that having some bones is necessary to having a good flavor. It is also very good for you!

Bring the pot to a boil and then turn down the burner so that you have a slow simmer. I like for the pot to slowly simmer uncovered for a long time, 4 hours or more. This sounds like a long time, but that lets all of the goodness come out of those old bones. It also isn't a lot of work as it is literally sitting and simmering on the stove.

When you are tired of stock simmering on the stove, let it cool a bit. Strain out the bones and meat. Pour stock into quart size ziplock bags and lay flat in your freezer. Once frozen you can stack the bags. I find this the perfect size for making soups. If you want smaller amounts, try using an ice cube tray.

I find that I can't buy chicken stock anymore. The flavor is lacking. It often contains gluten, corn or sugar. Why these ingredients are necessary in chicken stock, I have no idea. I like to have 4 quarts of homemade stock frozen on hand at all times. When illness strikes, this makes homemade soup easy to make. It also makes for a quick meal.

Also, try making this with bones that have been cooked and bones that have not been cooked. It creates different flavors. See which one you like best. I prefer bones that have been cooked, like from a roasted or rotisserie chicken.

I also have a disclaimer to make. I never taste my stock before I freeze it. This goes for my vegetable stock and my chicken stock. Someone told me that their vegetable stock turned out bitter, but they used potato peels (which I have never done) and no greens. And honestly, I have never tasted my vegetable stock plain! That being said, I have never had a dish turn out poorly in which it was used. So, mine may be bitter and I wouldn't be surprised. It isn't meant to be eaten on it's own, but used to enhance the flavor of soups and dishes and be used as a base for them.

Let me know how yours turns out! I would really like to know. Hopefully cold season doesn't strike you down this year, but you can be prepared!


Jen said...

Little factoid: Broth is when you use uncooked chicken bones and stock is when you use cooked chicken bones. The flavor is deeper with a stock, but the two can be interchanged in recipes.

Now, post some of those yummy soup recipes you make with said stock! :)

Kara said...

Thanks Jen! I knew this factoid, but others might not. Soup post coming up next.

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