Monday, September 13, 2010

Hey! Don't Throw That Away! Part 1: Chicken Stock

Hi all,
I had such a great weekend of cooking, that I wanted to share some of it with you. To tell you about it, i have to go back about two weeks, on a Sunday afternoon when i decided to roast a chicken in order to have some food options for the coming week (which just happened to be my first week of work at a new job!). This decision to roast a chicken, combined with a few other happenings, led me to a fun cascade of cooking decisions.

First, and it's pretty exciting, so it bears repeating- I got a new job! When i spend my days in the office, I try to pack a lunch as frequently as possible. This preference is a combination of my dissatisfaction at the lunch choices available to me on a regular basis, and my cheapness. I don't always manage to pack, and I definitely enjoy a dose of Chipotle every once in a while, but this particular week being my first week, I enjoyed chicken for lunch in a few different forms. When all that was left was a carcass, it was the end of the week, and I decided to make some chicken stock.

If you haven't made it before, it's very easy to make, and about a hundred times better than bouillon cubes (but trust me, I use bouillon cubes all the time). Take a chicken carcass, a couple of carrots, an onion, ribs of celery, garlic cloves and bay leaves. Take a look at the photo above. See that there's chicken skin in the pot? Don't do that! Take as much of the chicken skin off the carcass as you can before you put it in the water. You don't want fatty stock, and while you can definitely skim off the fat later, it is easier to not have it in there from the start.

Chop the vegetables roughly, and throw them all in a pot together with enough water so that everything is bobbing around the pot. It's good to get some other flavorings in there as well, some whole peppercorns, parsley, thyme, whatever you have on hand, dried or fresh. For fresh parsley and thyme, throw in the whole lot, stems and all, it will only add to the flavor.

Bring the whole kit and kaboodle to a boil, then turn it down and simmer it, covered, for a couple of hours.

Strain the broth, (you can discard the vegetables and spices), return the liquid to the pot and simmer on low heat with the cover off until the liquid is reduced by a cup or two. See the white spots on top of the liquid and the white layer around the edge of the bowl? That's the fat from the chicken skin that I shouldn't have put into the pot- There's nothing wrong with this, and I skimmed the fat from the surface, but you can avoid this very easily by not putting the skin in there in the first place.

You'll be left with a good 4-6 cups of stock that you can use for all types of recipes. One of the beauties of having (and freezing) homemade chicken stock on hand in the fall is that it makes fall soups. So it was the end of the week, and suddenly I had all this lovely chicken stock... Stay tuned for "Hey! Don't throw that away! Part 2" coming soon! -- Potato-Leek Soup -- is here!


  1. Awesome post! So psyched you wrote about making stock, you are doing God's work!

    About the fat.. I find it's almost impossible to end up w/none - so what I like to do is leave the stock pot in the fridge overnight -- then the fat hardens on the surface and becomes easy to skim off.

    Also, a Martha tip that I love is that if you want to freeze your stock but are left with a random amount after measuring out 2- or 1-cup containers, you can pour the remainder into an ice cube tray and once it's frozen, decant into a ziploc bag. A cube of frozen stock is great to toss into a pan to finish off a sauce for sauteed chicken or whatnot.

  2. You've inspired me to make some chicken stock :)