Saturday, January 4, 2014

My Cooking Attempts: Chicken Stock

My last post, for caramelized onions, reminded me that I should go back to basics. One of the most basics things I make, on a regular basis, is chicken stock. A few winters ago I was making a TON of soups and I was buying a TON of chicken broth, I'm talking bulk sized containers here. It quickly became apparent that it wasn't financially realistic to continue buying that much chicken stock. Plus the amount of salt and preservatives were astounding. So I decided to make my own chicken stock. Now I wonder why I didn't do this sooner!
I usually have chicken stock ingredients, well, in stock (pun intended =O): onion, carrots, celery, and chicken bones. Plus it's SO SO easy to make. You'll be amazed at the wonderful depth of flavor the stock has in comparison to store bought chicken stock. Have I sold you on making your own chicken stock? If so, here's how you do it:

Leftover chicken bones, skin, cooking juices, etc.
2 carrots
3 celery stalks
1 large onion

You could add salt, however, I choose not to. Stock is usually the base of another recipe and I like to season according to the specific needs of the recipe. Nothing worse than an over-salted dish! In addition to my list of ingredients you could also add a little thyme, parsley, and bay leaves, along with a couple cloves of garlic to further enhance the flavor of the stock. I sometimes use these herbs and spices, depending on what I have in stock, but I don't think it's essential and I often make the stock without it due to a preference towards a flavor profile that's compatible with anything I make. As you make this recipe you will find what works best for you and adjust accordingly.

Making the stock is as simple as one, two, three... four and five.

  1. Gather your leftover chicken bones.                                                                                                                  
  2. Gather your veggies. Coarsely chop.                                                                                              
  3. Add to your veggies and chicken bones to your slow cooker. Cover with water, leaving a 1/2" gap at the top. Honestly, I don't measure my water. I use a 6 quart slow cooker.                                                                           
  4. Cook on low for 10 hours.                                                                      
  5. When it's done cooking allow to cool until manageable. Strain through a fine mesh strainer.        
Refrigerate or freeze for future use. I simply fill a few mason jars and line my freezer with them. Defrost as necessary.
All done. Told you it was easy! Try it, I guarantee store bought chicken stock will never taste the same!