Welcome back to my kitchen! This is the second installment of ‘From Scratch’ where I show you how I make some of my cooking staples. Last Wednesday, I showed you how to roast a chicken. Hopefully, you saved your chicken carcass and drippings because that is the main ingredient to today’s food staple, Chicken Stock.
Homemade Chicken Stock
1. In a crockpot, place chicken carcass, its skin and juices leftover after roasting. Not to worry if you didn’t save the juices or you ate all the skin. These are not essential, just useful.
2. Grab some old veggies. Onion is the one vegetable that I would say is essential. The rest is up to you. Whatever you have in your crisper that is looking a bit sad. Now this is not to say you should use juicy or moldy produce, just the stuff that is on the oldish side. I like to use half an onion, a couple of celery stalks, a carrot or two, and garlic gloves.
***TIP: Any time you have ‘oldish’ veggies (come on, don’t tell me it doesn’t happened to you) instead of throwing them in the trash or compost bin, throw them into a freezer bag and freeze ’em. When you’re ready to make chicken stock, just grab the bag and throw the veggies straight into your crockpot.
3. Cut Veggies into large chunks. Place into crockpot.
4. Cover the whole mess with water. I put in at least 4 quarts of water. Just so you know, I never measure. I just pour in water until everything is well covered.
5. Add 2 Tablespoons of vinegar. This isn’t for flavoring, believe it or not. Vinegar is what draws out all the minerals, as well as, the gelatin the bones have to offer. Gelatin is what we’re after folks. That’s what makes it so good for you. So, don’t skip this step.
6. Add a Bay Leaf for flavoring. Sorry, I forgot to get a picture of that.
7. Set your crockpot on high. Put on the lid and wait for 12-24 hours. Remember, the longer it cooks, the more apt you are to get the bones to release that gelatin. And wow, you’re whole house is going to smell delicious
Here it is in summary:
- In a crockpot, place chicken carcass, its skin and juices leftover after roasting.
- Grab some old veggies. (1/2 onion, 2 celery stalks, 1+carrots, 4-5 garlic cloves)
- Cut Veggies into large chunks.
- Cover the whole mess with water. You want plenty of water because there will be some evaporation.
- Add 2 Tablespoons of vinegar.
- Add a Bay Leaf for flavoring.*
- Set your crockpot on high. Put on the lid and wait for 12-24 hours.
*If you have them, throw in a couple of chicken feet. These make a great gelatinous stock. Sorry if that grosses you out.
After 12-24 hours
1. Set up this contraption: 1 qt jar + 1 canning funnel + 1 strainer (seriously though, a pasta stainer over a large bowl would work just fine)
2. Ladle (or pour) your chicken stock over the stainer. The trick here is that you don’t want any of the solids (bones, veggies, etc) in your stock.
3. Let your stock cool. I leave mine on the counter for a few hours before putting them into the refrigerator. After 8 hours of refrigeration, your stock is ready for the freezer. You can pour it into freezer bags or into ice cube trays (great for smaller jobs and easy to defrost). If I use freezer bags, I lie them flat on a cookie sheet in the freezer. Then after frozen, the bags can easily be stacked on top of one another. Just be careful thawing freezer bags; mine usually leak. To combat leakage, I place the frozen bag into a large bowl.
If I use ice cube trays, I dump the little cubes into a plastic freezer bag. And then when I need some stock, I just pull out as many cubes as I need.
I haven’t ventured into freezing my stock into canning jars yet. It’s tricky business. From my research, pint size jars work best, but you have to leave enough head room for expansion. In other words, DO NOT fill your jars to the top. You’ll find a broken glass in your freezer. Not pretty. Just ask my friend, Traci. Tell ’em, Trac.
Do you make your own chicken stock? How do you store it? What meals do you use it in?
See you next Wednesday, for Part 3 of ‘From Scratch’, when I’ll be cooking up some yummy rice with my new chicken stock.