Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Chicken Stock, the basics

I like to buy a whole chicken so that I can make chicken stock and use it as a base for sauces and soups. It makes a world of difference in the end result so the effort is very much worth the time investment. I also figure, the more often you make stock from scratch, the faster the task becomes. I posted a video cutting up a whole chicken because that's the hardest part for most people. Once that is done, you have a nicely cut up chicken that you can roast, fry, bake, or cut up for stir fries. And it's a lot cheaper than having the butcher do it.

It's a great way to utilize vegetable scraps instead of throwing them away, keep a bag for mushroom stems, ends of onions and tomatoes, bottoms of asparagus, stems of herbs, carrot peels... the scraps dictate what's in my stock. I have to remember to use it before they start to go so about a week is max on these scraps. I don't put in anything that'll shock the flavor of the stock. If I have plans to make a tortilla soup, in goes a whole jalapeno or two, some toasted cumin seeds and some scrapped ears of corn. It'll deepen the flavor of the tortilla soup.

Start with mirepoix, a french word named after a person which comprises of onions, carrots and celery. The scraps in my frig adds a little to that base and the onions can be subbed with the green tops of leeks or scallions. Throw in bay leaves, garlic, herb stems, peppercorns, or other whole seeds. Seeds are always better when lightly toasted, which can be done on a dry skillet over a medium low heat or in a toaster oven at 300 degrees. Shake it up while they cook and they're ready when the aroma hits your nose just after few minutes.

Too much water in the stock and they'll be very little flavor, just cover the ingredients with water. Bring it to a rapid boil and lower the heat to a gentle simmer for about an hour, sometimes I let it go really slowly, partially covered so that it won't all evaporate, for up to 2 hours. Strain and chill, store in the frig overnight and all the fat will solidfy like a cap over the stock for easy removal. If I don't have plans to use it 3 days, I'll freeze it for later.

Chicken Stock Recipes

Bones of 1 whole chicken
3 celery stalks
2 carrots
1 whole onion
2 each bay leaf
4 cloves of garlic
4 each peppercorns

Place ingredients in stock pot, add water to cover or about 1 inch above the ingredients.
Bring to a boil
Skim the scrumb that forms on top
Gently Simmer for about 1 hour
Strain, press on ingredients to squeeze out the last drop
Chill and store in frig
Remove fat cap when ready to use
Yield = 6 cups

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