Recipe Redux: Chicken Stock From Scratch

My friend Lori texted me this morning to say that she was at Sendik’s, picking up the ingredients for the veggie beef soup I posted last week.  What a great call – that soup is delicious.  Wish I had some right now, in fact – it’s the perfect snowy day dinner!I texted back that she was a genius.  I then went about the mundane morning business of making beds, feeding the DamDog, and scraping soggy, swollen Cheerios off the kitchen counter.  All the while I pondered over what sort of soup I should make today.  Fifteen minutes later I got a glimpse of the new ad, and lo and behold – all the ingredients for homemade chicken stock are going on special today.  SCORE!  It’s like the people in the pricing department read my mind.  Thanks guys!!

Homemade chicken stock is like liquid gold, my friends.  It’s sooooo good, and sooooo simple!   And if you’ve got it on hand, the world’s your oyster – in terms of soup creation.

If you need inspiration, here are three I love:

Ann’s Creamy Carrot Soup – I adore this soup.  And carrots are on sale, making it extra, extra frugal!

Shrimp Bisque – swoon!  It calls for shrimp (no, really?) and canned tomatoes; look for CenSea Frozen Shrimp and Cento Brand Tomatoes, both are on sale.

Roasted Tomato Soup with Parmesan Wafers – gorgeous AND delicious!  A grown up version of the tomato soup you loved as a kid.  Stem tomatoes are also on sale.

So, I apologize for the re-run today.

Cut the crazy talk, I’m not sorry.  You need this recipe in your repertoire!  And you’ll be thanking me later on today, because your house is going to smell A. MAY. ZING!

BASIC HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK
Yields:  2 quarts
3 ½ lb. soup chicken (this was half the chicken for me; I froze the other half) – on sale
1 very large carrot, trimmed and chunked –  on sale
2 stalks of celery, chopped (leafy tops included)
1 leek, white and pale green parts only, trimmed and sliced down the middle – on sale
1 yellow onion, unpeeled (leave the skin on, it adds color to the stock)
1 parsnip, trimmed and chunked – on sale
½ bunch fresh parsley
6-8 peppercorns
1 t. salt
Enough cold water to cover all of these ingredients once they’re in the pot

Rinse your chicken and place it in a large Dutch oven.  Add in the rest of the ingredients.  Pour enough cold water over the ingredients to cover them (for my batch, this was about 8 cups).  Bring the mixture up to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat so that you maintain a bare simmer (a few little bubbles are popping up here and there).  Use a fine mesh strainer or a spoon to skim off any scum that comes to the surface.  Set your timer for two and a half hours and walk away (two and a half hours is your minimum cook time; you can let it go for up to five hours).  Come back to the stove now and then to be sure your stock isn’t boiling too hard. (*See notes*)

Take notice of how lovely your kitchen smells.

Place a clean soup pot in your sink, and set a large strainer inside the pot.  Line the strainer with a large piece of cheesecloth or a scrupulously clean kitchen towel.  Using tongs, remove the large chicken pieces and toss them out (the meat will be totally spent at this point and isn’t worth saving).  Pour the rest of the contents of the stockpot into the lined strainer, and drain off the stock.  Lift up the strainer and press on the solids to extract as much liquid as you can.  Throw out the contents of the strainer (but not your towel, of course!).  You should have approximately 8 cups of gorgeous, clear chicken stock.  Taste it, and season with salt if desired.  Use it immediately to make soup, or chill it down quickly and freeze it for a rainy day.

**NOTES**

1). This is important:  do not keep your stock at a rolling boil.  Fat particles will separate into tiny bits and become permanently suspended in your stock, resulting in greasy, cloudy (read: unsightly and GROSS) stock that you won’t be able to fix.  And you won’t want to serve it either because it will look fowl foul (chicken humor, haha!).

2). If you’d like a lower fat stock (and if you’re not in a hurry), chill your finished product over night.  The next day, all of the fat will have solidified on top of the stock.  I know, it looks kind of gross, but you’ll be able to scoop it all off and dispose of it quite easily with a big spoon.

Featured, Fresh, Frugal, Fabulous | January 11th, 2011