Tuesday, April 15, 2008

There's life in them thar bones - CHICKEN STOCK

So there I was, listing off the ingredients in a pot of stew, one of which was homemade chicken stock, and my friend Vance interrupted: "How do you make chicken stock?" Vance, my dear, it's the easiest thing in the world. No chicken bones (or ham or bison or fish) pass through my kitchen without doing second duty as stock. So here's how to make chicken stock:

Buy chicken and cut the meat off the bones, or roast a chicken and use the leftover bones. Put the bones in a pot and cover with water. Add one big onion quartered, one or two carrots quartered, one or two celery stalks quartered, some sprigs of fresh parsley (or dried), a bay leaf, a pinch of peppercorns and, if you have it, a teaspoon of coriander seeds. (You may have noticed that, other than the peppercorns, this is made entirely with Saskatchewan ingredients.) Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer covered for an hour. Cool the pot. Put the pot in the fridge (or outside when the weather is cold) until the fat solidifies on the surface -- lift off the fat and discard. Drain the stock to remove the bones and vegetables. The stock is now ready for cooking. Use it in: Barley Risotto, Four Grain Soup, Zuppa del Contadina, Hot & Sour Soup or Beef Bourguignon.

TIP I keep a zipper bag of scrap vegetables in the freezer for making stock: things like carrot peels, onion and celery trimmings, stems of parsley and other herbs, garlic skins, tomato ends -- anything that would add flavour to stock. When I start a batch of stock, I dump this bag of scraps into the water with the bones. Nothing goes to waste!


Ferdzy said...

It's always amazing to me how many people don't know about basic things like making chicken stock! You can hang on to some of that chicken fat too, it's good in mashed potatoes instead of butter, or for sauteing veggies.

Amy Jo Ehman said...

Funny you should mention the fat... I've started rendering the chicken fat and I have a nice little tub of it in my fridge. I'm not sure what to do with it though. Any suggestions?

Ferdzy said...

Well besides the two ideas I already mentioned, I've used it as the fat to make (biscuit) dumplings for chicken and dumplings, and also in pastry for chicken pies. You do have to be careful, and cut it with more normal fats, as it can make the pastry tough. But it definitely intensifies that chicken flavour.

Of course, it's most famous as "schmaltz" - just spread on bread instead of butter. I dunno about that one though. I don't think it's as flexible as bacon fat, and it doesn't keep as well, but still, some of it should be useable.

Amy Jo Ehman said...

No, spreading chicken fat on bread does not appeal to me...! (Now, bacon fat is another matter!) I've been thinking of trying to make duck confit. I have some wild ducks in the freezer (not much fat on those).