Thursday, February 27, 2014

Homemade Chicken Stock

You really can't compare homemade chicken stock to that of store bought. This golden elixir has made a reputable mark in the culinary world since ancient times and has since been known to prevent and alleviate sickness and other ailments due to it's nutrient dense qualities. If you don't believe me, try it for yourself and see how such savory goodness can come from such simple foods. This is my stock recipe and I have been making my broth this way for years now. Even if I change it up now and then (depending on what ingredients I have), I have always been pleased how it turns out.
I hope you enjoy! 

There is a debate out there about whether you should use a fresh whole chicken or a already cooked chicken carcass. According to many chefs, it is a matter of preference as both produce a good broth in the end. I prefer a chicken carcass because I save my left over bones after making a previous meal (which also saves me money). So, I leave it to you.
Homemade Chicken Stock
(I also do this with Turkey)
 If you want to make a stock with a leftover carcass and don't have time, just place it in a freezer bag or paper and freeze it for up to two months for the best results.
  • 1 whole fresh chicken or leftover chicken carcass
  • Cold Water (do not use hot)
  • 2 large fresh Carrots, cleaned and cut in half
  • 2 fresh Celery stalks with leaves, cleaned, and cut in half
  • 1-2 fresh Leeks, cleaned and halved twice (optional but highly recommended)
  • 1 large fresh Onion (Any), whole or quartered (leaving the skin on will add color which is fine)
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 3 fresh sprigs or 1 teaspoon dried Parsley
  • 2 fresh sprigs or 1 teaspoon dried Thyme
  • 1-2 Bay Leafs (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt (add after the first half hour of cooking. Salt is important as it helps draw the protein out of the bones and creates a cleaner stock)
Don't have some of these herbs, you can still make a good broth and add these later if needed in a recipe.
Assuming that you have a left over chicken or you just roasted one, take all the meat off. Shred chicken pieces and refrigerate to use for other dishes or chicken soups. Place carcass in a stock pot, then fill with vegetables, pepper, herbs, and then cover with cold water (About two inches above contents). Simmer uncovered (Do not boil). This can be an all day thing if you want to make a concentrated stock (8-10 hours) or 4-6 hours of simmering should be good for a lighter stock. You can also throw it in the slow cooker and set it. Stir it about 3 or four times during the first hour to incorporate ingredients, after that, just keep an eye  on it.
Make sure you skim the grayish foam out of your stock as it cooks to make a clearer and cleaner stock. If you do not remove the impurities that make up the gray foam, you may have a bitter taste in your stock. The more the water recedes, the more concentrated it will become.  
Remove carcass to leave only the smaller pieces.

In a large colander, let the pieces drain into a large bowl for a few minutes.

Strain the liquid again (and again if needed) to ensure no bones or small pieces are left. you can also use a cheesecloth.

Allow the hot broth to cool down before you refrigerate it. I set mine with ice around and below to help cool it faster. Add more Kosher Salt to taste towards the end of cooling if needed but keep in mind that the salinity will become more prevalent the cooler it gets. Stir occasionally to mix the cool with the hot liquid. When it cools the fat will separate. Either keep the fat and mix back into the broth or take it off freeze separately if desired. Your stock may be gelatinous. This is perfect fine and a good thing at that. If this is the case, you can always spoon it into containers to freeze of refrigerate.

After you have refrigerated it at least over night, you can freeze your stock in cubes to save time for your recipes that call for it. One ice cube is about 1/4 cup of stock.
It us recommended that you freeze your stock until needed. However stock can be kept in the refrigerator for up to six days. If it has been more than 6 days, make sure you bring it to a boil for 8-10 minutes before using.
Stock can be kept in the freezer for 4-6 months.
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