Monday, July 14, 2008

Chicken Stock! Finally!


Well, the husband and I have been talking about this for ages- AGES! Pretty much since we started eating meat again. He was vegan for 8 years, and I was vegetarian for the better part of a decade. If you're curious about the details about why we went back to meat, feel free to drop me a line and ask- but I'm too excited about my stock to get into it here (and who really cares, anyway?).

Like I said, we've been talking about this forever, but in the 5 or so years my husband and I have been a couple, we've never made stock together! Not even vegetable stock! I find that fact ridiculous, considering how often we end up buying it. During the cold months, we make tons of soups from scratch, using store bought stock! The shame.


Considering how easy it is to make, I'm dumbfounded we haven't bothered before. Part of the reason is that, when we make our weekly shopping list, we always end up with 1 or 2 meals that require chicken. We eat a LOT of chicken- mostly because it's cheap, healthy, and versatile, but also because we don't eat a lot of meat, generally speaking (remember, ex-veggies) so we aren't really "meat and taters" types, you know? We always end up buying chicken breasts and freezing some to use later in the week. Suddenly I am coming to terms with how ridiculous this is! A whole chicken costs about 8-10 dollars. A good sized pair of chicken breasts (if you buy organic, like we do) can run about the same!! So, for the price it would take to make us one night of tacos and one night of salads with grilled chicken- we could do a night of curry (tonight), a night of salads (tomorrow), and a night of tacos (friday) PLUS use the carcass to make chicken stock! Genius! 8 bucks for like, 3 days worth of protein plus stock to use later!


I'm not going to lie- watching my husband butcher a whole bird is kind of dreamy. I can't possibly provide instructions for what he's doing, but I encourage anyone who doesn't know how to butcher a chicken to study some diagrams or even take a cooking class to learn, because done well, it's a thing of beauty. I know a lot of people are grossed out by raw meat, (sorry!) but I can't help but feel a sort of primal (sorry, didn't yield any good synonyms. I had to go with the cliche one.) connection with my food when I'm handling the raw meat- when I can see the shape of the carcass and picture the animal. It's something I tried my best to ignore as a vegetarian, and now as a meat eater, I embrace it. I don't want to be one of those mindless meat eaters who just shovels in mystery cuts because they're on sale- I like to know where my meat is coming from, otherwise it just feels kind of dirty and gross.


He laid the cuts out real nice for me. (I think he felt like showing off.) We froze 1 chicken breast, refrigerated the other (tomorrow night!), deboned the thighs for tonight's dinner (red Thai curry), and threw the rest in with the stock. The chicken looks so pretty separated into perfect little sections! What's leftover, not so pretty:


So, to make the stock!

3 rough-chopped carrots
3 stalks of rough-chopped celery
4 smallish yellow onions, thickly diced
Carcass (bones, skin, blah blah) of 1 medium sized chicken
1 or 2 bay leaves
Pinch of sea salt
5 or 6 smashed garlic cloves

Heat a large(!) stock pot to medium-high heat, and with a small amount of olive oil, lightly saute vegetables to get them going. Add the chicken parts, and add water until everything is just barely covered. Bring to a light boil, add bay leaf and salt. Allow to simmer uncovered for 4-5 hours. DO NOT STIR! Other recipes online recommend skimming- but we didn't do that. I don't know why, Jason's asleep or else I'd ask him, haha!

When stock seems to be sufficiently reduced (whateverrrrr), strain through a fine mesh strainer. You can also strain through cheesecloth, or- I used a really thin cotton kitchen cloth to strain mine. Refrigerate for a few hours, then skim the fat off. Freeze or use within a week.


This "recipe" (uh, as usual- we were sort of eyeballing every damn thing) left us with 2 pint-sized mason jars about 2/3rds full. I put them in the fridge uncovered (because I didn't want the steam to build up in the jar) and soon I'm going to skim the fat off the top, and then freeze one jar. I hope we can come up with something fancy to make with our new fancy homemade stock! I'm hoping for a good risotto. It's to effin' hot for soup, but come wintertime you can bet I'm going to be making lots of stock.



The Fabulous One said...

While the vegetarian part of me was like "OMG CHICKEN BROTH NO!!!"

...the photographer part of me was tap dancing over that last photo with you reflected in the pot.

So I forgive you your paltry poultry offense ;P

rainbowbrown said...

How wonderful. The experience of making one's own stock is a must. Beautiful job and lovely write-up.

celina said...

I would love to hear about your vegan/vegetarian to meat-eating experience. I've been considering making the switch myself and can't seem to get enough of other people's opinions on the subject lately.

sweetcharity said...

Nice post- the stock is so clear and chickeny looking! I also like how in the last picture you can see the picture taker's reflection in the pot.
Kinda interesting method though- traditional stock making methods would generally start the chicken carcass and bits (either roasted or not) in the pot first. This allows you to skim off the chicken scum without losing any of the veggie goodness. Then once the stock comes up, add the veg and aromatics.
*shrug* ah, the things they teach you in cooking school.

EDIBLE, adj: said...

Nice stock!

I think everyone should buy chickens whole and then butcher them at home... it's extremely satisfying - and you get to see firsthand that a chicken is more than just a Mcnugget.

I'm also interested in hearing about your switch to vegetarian to omnivore... I've never been veg but I feel like I've spent oodles of time thinking about why I eat meat (and where that meat came from.)


Alicia Carrier said...

sweetcharity- my husband woke up this morning and read my blog post. he said, "oh yeah- you are supposed to skim the top as it goes, it just wasn't really 'scummy' so i left it alone." he went to culinary school too, i wonder if they just teach it differently some places?

cindy* said...

i have yet to brave my own stock, but now that i don't have to share a kitchen with 6 roomates, i will be attempting to conquer it soon. well done!

sweetcharity said...

Not sure- most culinary schools teach "Traditional French Methods" (I think you are supposed to have a haughty tone in your voice when you say that). But like everything, everyone I've ever worked for/with has a slightly different way of doing things... some like to roast bones first, some blanch and refresh the bones, some add tomato paste, some roast the veggies... one guy I worked with would just boil the crap out of everything (he apprenticed in a hotel, and made the cloudiest stocks ever). I've noticed when I make small stocks at home that there's never much to skim- I guess the skimming is more necessary when you make a huge amount of stock, like 30 L.

Alicia Carrier said...

sweetcharity, it's funny that you commented today because i mentioned this conversation to my husband this evening! we were making a new batch of stock (nomnom) and i asked him about pre-roasting or browning the chicken carcass (and also about how some people just use the carcass from a roasted chicken) and he said in his opinion, it doesn't make sense to brown a chicken carcass because you lose all the juices that way. he looked it up in one of his cooking school books, and it didn't say anything about NOT roasting the bones first, but it did say to start with a fresh carcass.

sweetcharity said...

Hi again!
I like both ways. In my opinion, roasting the bones yields a stock with a slightly darker color and a deeper flavor (I also add a few bruleed onions for slightly caramelly undertones). The juices than run out stay on the pan, so you can deglaze with some wine later on and add it back into the stock. But again, everyone does it differenty- I actually worked someplace that used half roasted bones and half raw. Seemed almost pretentious to me, but yielded some of the most beautiful stocks I have ever seen.
Pleasure chatting about stocks with you,

Sweet Bird said...

Like celina, I too would be interested in the story behind your switch from veggie to omni. I've been seriously considering the switch to veggie and am interested in what you have to say. I know, I'm so nosy.

vanessavictoria said...

What recipe do you use for your red Thai curry?