Saturday, July 11, 2009

Light Chicken Stock

This could be one of the most frequently used ingredients in all of cooking, and is definitely one of the most important recipes you will ever master.  Why?  Because it is one of the mother ingredients in 2/3 of all sauces, almost every soup you will ever make calls for it, it is in stews, sometimes used to blanch vegetables, etc... etc...  If you decide to make your own stock instead of buying the boxed or canned variety in the soup section of your store you will find two things to be most certainly true.  1. The homemade version tastes better.  Why?  Fresh ingredients for one, and no preservatives to make the stock shelf stable at the grocery store.  2.  It's literally 1/4 the cost.  If you do what I do, and de-bone your chicken before you eat it, and freeze the bones, you will end up with 4 lbs of bones very quickly.  This would include your store bought rotisserie chickens.  All the rest of the ingredients cost less than $3.00.  This will give you about a gallon of stock as opposed to a pint for $3.00 in the grocery store.  Stocks can be very intense in flavor, and very high in protein.  If you skim the top of the pot the next day of the fat, it is almost fat free.  Don't add salt.  Since this is an ingredient, and not a soup, you will want to season what you are using the chicken stock in, not season the chicken stock.

4 lbs chicken bones including the backs, and necks
4 stalks of celery
4 carrots unpeeled
2 medium yellow onions quartered
2 cloves garlic smashed
10 sprigs thyme
10 sprigs parsley
2 bay leaves
10 peppercorns whole
2 gallons cold water
1 large bag of ice

place all the ingredients into a 12 quart stock pot.  Place on the stove on high heat, and watch the pot.  You've heard the saying "a watched pot never boils" right?  That's the point, we don't want it to start boiling.  When it starts to bubble and reach a simmer, reduce the heat to medium low.  Skim the top of the pot with a handheld fine meshed strainer or spoon every 10 minutes the first hour, and every 1/2 hour for the rest of the cooking time.  Simmer for 8 hours.  Add water to keep the bones and vegetables submerged if needed.

Stop up your sink, and remove the pot from the stove.  Strain the stock through a fine meshed strainer into a bowl 3 times to remove as much of the solid material as possible.  Clean the pot, and pour the stock back into it.  Place the pot in the center of the sink and pour ice around the pot.  NOT IN THE POT.  Let the stock come down quickly in temperature.  It should fall below 40 degrees.  Put the whole pot in the refrigerator, or a cooler full of ice overnight.  In the morning, open the pot.  Any fat will have solidified on the top of the stock.  Skim the solidified fat off the top.  Freeze in 1 pint zip lock bags for up to 3 months.  I like to freeze a lot of the stock into plastic Gerber baby food containers.  Ice cube trays work well too, just make sure they are wrapped well in foil. 

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