Search This Blog

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Chicken Stock for the Soul

By Mango

Today was a quiet, lazy Sunday. It was also clean-out-the-overflowing-what-in-the-world-is-in-here freezer day. We routinely save chicken bones, either from raw chicken that Panda cuts up, or from roast chickens that have been cooked whole. We also hang on to every and any veggie and mushroom bits left over from cooking preps, and everything goes into the freezer to make either chicken or veggie stock. The great thing about stock is that there is no fixed recipe, and it will taste just a little bit different every time. Home made chicken stock is so versatile, and can be used for soups, gravy, sauces, even for cooking rice. This time, I used our stock to make a simple chicken noodle soup.

For the chicken stock, this is basically what I started out with:

The chicken bones (backbones, leg bones, wing bits etc) are at the bottom of the stock pot.

The veggies this time around included leeks, cabbage leaves, fennel tops, carrot tops, asparagus ends, radish pods (hard to find, but we lucked out and had these left over) a large onion chopped in half, a whole garlic bulb sliced in half, and a bunch of fresh thyme.   You can throw in any herbs and veggies that you like. It doesn't matter if the onion and garlic peels/skins are still on. This will all be strained out later anyway.

Fill the stock pot with water and bring to a boil. Then lower the flame and simmer for 4 to 6 hours, with the lid on.

I simmered this batch of stock for 5 hours. This is what it looked like when done:

Isn't the color so beautiful?! 
The next step is to strain it.

The chicken parts and veggies are mush by now, and will taste like nothing. Throw this away. They have served their delicious purpose.

And here is the stock. Golden brown and rich in chicken and veggie flavors that have had 5 hours to mingle. 

Cool the stock and portion into pint sized containers. We usually keep this in the fridge overnight. The chicken fat floats to the top and solidifies, forming a distinct layer that can be scooped off and discarded, or saved separately for other cooking uses (Panda says it is called "schmaltz"). The containers are then put in the freezer, and can be stored for several months.

Panda: To cool the stock quickly, just do the following.  Put a stopper in the drain of your sink.  Set your pot in the sink and surround it with ice (the more the better).  Then fill the sink with water so that the pot is surrounded with water and ice.  The icy water will cool the pot down quickly.  The faster the stock cools down the better!

And there you have it, chicken stock! We got about 5 pints out of this batch. 3 are shown above. I used 2 pints to make chicken noodle soup.

1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 peeled carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped (including celery leaves)
Half a tomato, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon dried herbes de provence (you can use whatever herbs you like)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
a handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
a dash of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil
Egg noodles
Left over chicken breast, chopped (any chicken meat will do. We had leftover roast chicken breast.)

Sautée the onions, carrots, and celery in olive oil until softened. Season with salt and pepper. Add the tomato and garlic, cook for a couple of minutes. Add fennel seeds, herbes de provence, nutmeg, and bay leaves (cloves would be really good in this too). Cook for another 2-3 minutes, add 2 pints of chicken stock, chopped parlsey, and the Dijon mustard. Bring to a boil, them simmer for about a half hour. Add the egg noodles, cook for about 5-10 minutes or until done. Throw in chopped chicken breast, simmer for 5 minutes and then turn off the heat. Let the chicken soup sit for 30 minutes to an hour so that all the flavors can come together. The soup will taste even better the next day.