Best Chicken Stock

Fall is impending, and most people think of Fall as soup season. I happen to think that every season is soup season.

from sidneymeetup

from sidneymeetup

The first (and most essential) ingredient for a quality soup, whatever the season, is the stock you use.

Don’t fall for the ol’ Swanson stock trick–boxed is not better than canned, and once you taste homemade stock, you’ll never want to go back to either boxed or canned.

from theguardian

from theguardian

Taste aside, homemade stock is so much better for you than boxed or canned. Homemade stock is rife with calcium (from the bones); glycine, which is necessary for creating glucose, detoxifying the body, and wound repair; proline, and essential amino acid; and so many more vitamins and minerals. There’s a reason it’s called “Jewish penicillin”.

from chow

from chow

If you want to learn more–and I’ve barely even touched on the subject–you need to read the book that got me so interested in making my own stock. My life hasn’t been the same since.

Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons

Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons

The best thing about chicken stock is that it’s so inexpensive to make. Save your chicken bones, carcasses, etc. in the freezer until you’re ready to make some stock.

All you need are chicken bones, vegetables (scraps or not), water, and black pepper.

If you’re like me, you’ve discovered the glory of a rotisserie chicken.

rotisserie chicken

rotisserie chicken

It’s a whole chicken–fully cooked–and tender and tasty to boot. Plus it’s only about a dollar more than a raw whole chicken–and since I use at least a dollar’s worth of butter and garlic to roast a chicken, so really I’m saving money.

That’s my story. Sticking to it.

So, take the chicken out of the bag.

chicken

chicken

It’s a beaut.

Now strip it of the skin and meat. Separate the skin from the meat from the bones.

skin & bones

skin & bones

meat

meat

Set the bones aside. Do whatever you want with the meat and skin. (I can’t resist taking a bite of the skin. Call me names, make fun of me, it’s okay, that skin is worth it.)

Now grab your vegetables. I use carrots,

carrots

carrots

celery,

celery

celery

and an onion.

onion

onion

Cut the carrots and celery into thumb sized pieces and the onion into quarters. Place in a crock pot or soup pot.

veggies in the crock

veggies in the crock

I will always choose the crock pot–I think it’s because I enjoy The Taste of No Effort as well as Eating On The Cheap.

I have a gas stove, and simmering stock for 12 hours on a gas stove is:

a) so expensive I’d have to start selling my plasma to pay the bill.

b) so needy I wouldn’t be able to leave the house or do much without coming back to check on it, stir it, and generally babysit it.

b) so hot I’d have to crank up the a/c and sit naked on the couch, fanning myself with ice packs. And that’s a sight no one should see. Or envision.

I’m sorry.

Which brings me back to my original point: the crock pot is an amazing gadget. It’s inexpensive to use, easy to walk away from, and generates very little heat.

So stick that beautiful carcass in the pot on top of all those gorgeous vegetables.

carcassed

carcassed

Fill the pot with water.

water

water

Shake a bunch of black pepper on there.

peppered

peppered

Now turn the crock pot on low and walk away for about 12 hours.

Yep–it’s that easy. Often I’ll assemble it all on Friday night and on Saturday morning I’ll have stock I can freeze!

And because you can use the same carcass up to three times, I’ll chunk some more veggies, fill the pot with fresh water and pepper, and let it go for another 12 hours.

Adding a dash of apple cider vinegar helps leach some of the minerals out of the bones, so I’ll usually put a little in the second round of stock.

Okay, so once the stock it done, It should look all liquid-y, and amber-y, and silk-y, and luscious.

stock!

stock!

Now here’s the hardest part of the whole shebang: straining the out the vegetables.

I like to put a colander in a very large pot,

colander in pot

colander in pot

and then pour the boiling stock and vegetables over through the colander, catching the stock in the pot.

strained

strained

This is when you can pick out the chicken parts and go for Round Two of stock.

strained stock

strained stock

I like to let the stock cool down, and then freeze most of it for later.

If you or a child or a partner are sick, this is the perfect base for a soup.

chicken stock/soup

chicken stock/soup

suck it, martha.

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Categories: Food & Drink

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3 Comments on “Best Chicken Stock”

  1. A.C.
    October 7, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    Now I know what to do with the rest of the chicken when I buy a rotisserie chicken solely for chicken salad. I’m also going to buy ice cube trays for the soul purpose of freezing food things.

  2. October 7, 2013 at 4:55 pm #

    I love the idea of making chicken stock so easily, but there are just two things: 1. Grab a piece of cheesecloth, throw in black peppercorns instead of ground black pepper along with thyme and parsley and boil with it. 2. the stock should be refrigerated afterwards so that the fat from the skin and collagen can separate and solidified and sloughed off.

    • November 1, 2013 at 9:32 am #

      Yes, Kim, you can certainly do that! I’m really picky about my pepper, and I actually prefer the ground pepper route, but the cheesecloth is a great idea. Also, there are tons of nutrients in the collagen that I like to retain, but I also don’t struggle with cholesterol, etc. like some of my family members. Thanks for the tips!

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