Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Chicken Stock... Getting Back on Track!

I have not posted anywhere near what my plans have been.  I wanted to post 3-4 items each week.  Well, we're still getting into the swing of things post-holidays here... and that involves reserving some cash each week from our booze-fund.  Thank God for leftovers!  Oh, I was sick for a few days, actually... and astonishingly could not stomach the thought of food at the time.  And I need to not worry so much about grammar, spelling, wit, or any of that crap... as long as the recipe is correct.  Really, that's the only reason I'm doing this.  Well, aside from the promise of fame & fortune. 



Okay... I made homemade chicken soup for Edwin last week after a minor surgical procedure.  Nothing feels better after an illness, injury, surgery... whatever... than a good chicken soup.  It's actually the only thing I could stomach the thought of eating when I was sick the week prior, but alas... no leftovers in the freezer.  This recipe is for the chicken stock itself... or the 'Vroom', as Edwin calls it.

INGREDIENTS:

Chicken bones/parts: 3 lbs - they can be frozen/thawed, raw/roasted... I'm not getting too picky at this point.  NO giblets... but definitely reserve the neck.  **You can also substitute a 3-4 lb. whole chicken or chicken pieces.
Onion: 1 lb - white or yellow, don't use red.  Rough chop, don't be perfect.
Carrots: 1 lb - whole or babies... roughly chopped.
Celery: 1 lb - ribs & leaves... roughly chopped.
Garlic: one-half to one whole head - smash the cloves to remove the skins... don't need to be chopped.
Bay Leaf: 3-4 leaves, whole - dried or fresh.
Sage: 6-7 leaves, fresh - no need to chop.
Rosemary: 1 med sprig, fresh - don't chop.
Thyme: one-half small bunch, fresh - guess what... don't chop.
Water: about 3 gal - enough to fill a 16 quart stockpot to 1/2 inch from the top.  Hot or cold, your choice.
**Note: I do not add salt or black pepper to my stock because I always add it to-taste when I'm using it for soups, chili, rice, etc.

PROCESS:

1) Add all ingredients to the pot and fill with water.  Set on stove and turn burner to hi-heat.  Cover the pot with a lid so it comes to temperature quickly.  Stir the pot a few times to distribute the heat.  Should be simmering/boiling within 20-30 minutes.  **Don't take a bubble-bath during this portion... it may boil over if you aren't watching it somewhat attentively. 
2) Once the pot has achieved a simmer/boil, remove the lid, stir the pot, and allow it to boil for a few hours uncovered, stirring every-so-often. **Now you can take your bath.


3) Once the pot has reduced by at least a 1/4 but not more than 1/3, turn the heat off.  Use a slotted spoon or a Chinese Wire Strainer (photo on left... not sure if it's the correct name, but it's an amazing tool... you must get one!) to remove the solid pieces from the pot.  Transfer pieces to a bowl before discarding so that drippings can be saved from them.  **If you're really motivated, reserve the soft pieces, not the bones, and put through a food mill held over a wire-mesh strainer to get even more of the concentrated liquids from the solids.

4) Pour remaining stock through a fine-mesh strainer held over another pot or bowl(s) large enough to hold the contents... there should be around 2 gallons of liquid, give-or-take.  You may want to use a cup or smaller bowl to strain the stock instead of pouring the whole batch at once.  **I recommend doing this in your kitchen sink!!
5) Once the stock has cooled for another 15-20 minutes, you can container it and throw it in the freezer.  This is liquid gold, I'm telling you!!


THOUGHTS:

- I have never tried a stock that simmers low and slow for hours on-end... I'm not sure how much better it would be, but it's worth a shot at some point. 

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