One of the easiest ways to start making delicious, old fashioned food at home is to make real chicken stock on a regular basis. It is easy, economical and it gives food a flavor that cannot be matched by any store bought product. There are two ways to make chicken stock–the whole chicken way and the leftover roast chicken way. With the whole chicken way, you start with a whole, raw chicken. With the leftover roast chicken way, you have a leftover roast chicken carcass and you use that to make stock. If you are doing the leftover roast way, you can follow the same instructions, except that there will be no meat to pick off. I usually start with a whole, raw, organic chicken. This one cost me $16.00 at Whole Foods and will give our family at least two, if not three, dinners with leftover stock that I can freeze.
The process is easy:
Get a chicken. Put in a pot. Fill with water. Add veg and herbs. Simmer very gently for an hour and a half. Remove the chicken carefully (many times have I dripped boiling hot stock onto myself by not being careful), let it cool down and pick the meat off. Now you have cooked chicken meat that you can use for chicken salad, tacos, enchiladas…whatever AND you have a huge pot of rich, delicious stock for soup and sauces. If you have more time, and you want a richer stock, you can add the picked-over bones back to the pot and continue to simmer. If not, no big deal. When you are done with the simmering, remove all of the solid bits and save the golden, delicious liquid.
The 2 main rules of thumb are–1. don’t boil the stock. This will give you tough, dry meat and cloudy stock. The liquid should be just below a simmer. 2. The stock should either be hot or cold. The in-between temperatures are breeding ground for bacteria. If you find yourself with a pot of hot stock at the end of the night, add some ice cubes to cool it down. It will dilute your stock a bit, but it will keep it from languishing at a temperature that is going to cause spoilage. If you have way more stock than you need, freeze it. You can also freeze the cooked chicken meat to have on hand for a last-minute supper.
|How to Make Chicken Stock||
- 1 chicken
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 handful fresh herbs-parsley and thyme are good
- 2 tsp salt
- if you don’t have any of these things, no problem. If you have something that you think would be good–mushrooms or wine–pour that in
- Get a chicken.
- Put it in a large pot.
- Fill the pot with enough water that it covers the chicken.
- Add the onion,carrots, celery, a bay leaf, some herbs, salt.
- Put it on the stove and bring up to almost a boil. Then turn down to just below a simmer. It should not be boiling. If it does boil, not the end of the world, it will just make a cloudier stock. Just turn it down.
- Leave it there for an hour and a half or so.
- When the chicken’s legs are super loose and giggly, carefully pull the chicken out. Be careful not to get boiling hot stock on yourself.
- Let the chicken cool down.
- Pull the meat off of the chicken. This does not require intimate knowledge of chicken anatomy. Just pull the skin off and discard. Then pull all the meat off that you can see.
- Now you have a big pile of shredded chicken meat that you can use for tacos, chicken salad, enchiladas, whatever.
- If you have more time, and you want a richer stock, you can put the chicken bones back in the stock and continue gently cooking.
- If not, no big deal. You have a big pot of delicious chicken stock.
- Let the stock cool down before you refrigerate it.
- Freeze if necessary.