Sunday, January 9, 2011

Your Stock is Rising

How awesome was your chicken?

If you made some chicken and have some bones, now you can make chicken stock! Chicken stock is incredibly nutritious, providing minerals, electrolytes, collagen, and gelatin, which aids in digestion. According to Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions, gelatin in bone stocks has been shown to aid digestive issues significantly both in clinical studies and in thousands of years of culinary evolution.

Chicken stock is also delicious. It provides a superb base for soups, sauces, and countless other dishes. If you want to make good soup, use homemade stock. Not to fear, vegetarians, vegetable stock is a snap to make, as well.

The third awesome thing about chicken stock is you are connecting with countless generations of cooks before you who turned to stock as way to use every part of an animal. Instead of throwing bones away, you can use them to make some delicious and nutritious that will save you money.

Making chicken stock is easy but it takes an afternoon. It's really only about 15 minutes of active work, but you need to check on it about once and hour or so. It is the perfect thing to do on cold Sunday afternoon when you are cozy inside doing a project or watching a movie. Chicken bones can easily be stored in the freezer until you have time to make it.

Now that you are convinced, here's how you do it:

Put your chicken bones in the bottom of big pot. Fill the pot with enough cold water to cover the bones by an inch or two. Add a glug of vinegar (I use usually use cider vinegar). The vinegar helps pull out the minerals into your stock. Turn the heat on and keep an eye on your stock at first. You do not want the stock to reach a boil. Once you start to see a few bubbles, adjust the heat so your stock is simmering gently, not boiling. At this point you can add some whole peppercorns and a bay leaf, if you want. As your stock simmers you may notice some scum building on the surface. Periodically skim this stuff off. Like in capitalism, scum rises to the top.

After a few hours of simmering (3-4) It's time to add the vegetables. If you are making vegetable stock, start here. I used to add the vegetables at the beginning with the chicken bones, but vegetables give all they can give to a stock in about an hour and start to fall apart after that, so I switched to the vegetables in later method. You can save scraps from your veggies like carrot peels and celery tops or you can use whole vegetables. Cut up about the equivalent of 2 medium carrots and 4-6 stalks of celery. Quarter 1-2 onions. Add your vegetables. The reason I am giving approximate measures is you obviously need more vegetables if you are using more bones and more water. You can also use more of one or less of another vegetable based on your preference. Some other veggies that are lovely in stock include parsnips and fennel. At this point you can add several sprigs of parsley as well.

Let your stock simmer gently for another hour. At the end, strain your stock another bowl and let it cool. As the fat starts to separate, skim it off and either save it for future cooking or toss it. Once the stock is cool, you can put it freezer bags to put in the freezer or in tupperwares to save for later. If you refrigerate your stock it should thicken considerably and kind of look like chicken jello. This tells you it is full of the good stuff.

Next... Oh the things you can do with homemade chicken stock!

1 comment:

  1. I'm totally obsessed with making my own chicken stock post-roasting! I never knew about the vinegar part though, I'll have to try that.

    I save old cottage cheese containers and freeze the stock in those once it's cooled; they're the perfect size for popping out single-meal stock amounts once you're ready to defrost, like adding to rice, veggies, etc. as they simmer.

    And OMG, risotto...