Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Make Your Own Chicken Stock

I cook just about everything with chicken broth/stock. It is such a great alternative for flavoring dishes compared to the higher fat and salt alternatives. One thing I was always scared of though: making my own. I know, sounds crazy but it was true. I finally got brave and made my first batch about 2 years ago. It was okay - nothing I was jumping up and down about but better than the high priced alternative. I've learned a few tricks over the years to where I am finally getting a great stock and at the chance that you might not want to be my friend anymore, I'm going to share them with you :)

While you can go out and grab all of these ingredients fresh and new, I don't recommend it. I have found that I can "collect" what I have on hand, store it in the freezer and pull everything out once my supplies are there. It may take a month or so to do it but the money savings are well worth it in the long run. Here's what I do: I roast chicken on a pretty regular basis so after removing the meat I just throw the bones in a ziploc and put in the freezer. If we have a whole roasted chicken or buy a rotisserie chicken then I'll save those too - there are times when sections of my freezer look like a chicken graveyard. See, we're breaking up already, aren't we?
The next thing I do over time is keep all of my vegetable scraps. You know, the onion peel, the papery part of the garlic bulbs, carrot peels, celery ends and tops and each time I have these, I rinse them off and put them in another large ziploc bag to save for my stock. I know, it totally sounds gross but there is a lot of flavor in the part that you would otherwise trash and since we are going to boil our stock at a thousand degrees for several hours, we get the great flavor without any of the otherwise unusable parts going to waste. I also throw in sprigs of thyme, bay leaves and some pepper. I don't add salt because I can do that when I make whatever dish using the stock.
Here's where you can choose your fate: You can either put everything in a large stock pot on your stove or put everything in a crock pot plugged into your garage so you don't have to smell it all day. I may or may not have a strong preference on this one. Either way, you are going to just cover everything with water and cook on high for at least 2 hours stove top and 6 in the crock pot. I prefer an all day in the crock pot deal because it just gets the best flavor that way (and this is saying a lot because my crock pot hates me). When it's finished, pour entire contents through a strainer and into a large bowl to cool. I love these Classico Pasta Jars because not only am I buying them anyway, they have measurements on the side so I can use them to store 2 cups of stock in the freezer, the same as would be in a can you'd buy at the store.
Last step for me is that I will either put the whole large bowl in the fridge or the individual jars over night and let the fat and impurities rise to the top. The next day you can just take a spoon and it will all come right off the top and you have wonderful, delicious gross nasty fat removed chicken stock!
Here are the approximate measurements if you are wanting to buy new supplies and not use my collection method outlined above.

about 2 lbs chicken bones (I read an article that said chicken wings actually make the best stock but have never tried them)
about 3 cups random vegetables (onions, celery, garlic and carrots)
2 bay leaves
3-4 fresh thyme sprigs
fresh black pepper or peppercorns
enough water to cover dry ingredients

Boil or crock pot on high for at least two hours if boiling and 6 if using the crockpot.

1 comment:

Ashley D. said...

This is great! I've often made chicken stock, but I've never thought to toss in "scrap" vegetables. I will try that next time. Thanks!

And I love the crock pot in the garage idea!