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, thesaurus.com 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.