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Taking Stock – chicken stock

Before I moved out on my own, stock came in cans from the supermarket. Homemade stock is a completely different animal, and surprisingly easy. All you need is a bit of time and weather that is not too painfully hot and humid so that extended cooking is still possible.

Stock philosophy: I’m not making consumes, so these recipes won’t give you light, translucent broths. Nope, these are rich and yummy things food of goodness and nutrients.

Ps and Qs chicken stock
Boil together:
chicken bits (whole chicken, chicken backs, chicken feet & necks, whatever)
*(ideally, there’s the stuff called parsley root which is a less sweet parsnip with lovely, tasty parsley green attached – that was always my first choice.)
garlic cloves (not peeled, just cut in half)
onion (not peeled, cut into quarters)
sprigs of thyme
a bay leaf
sprigs of rosemary
water to cover

*boil* *boil* *boil*

Remove the parsley before letting it sit overnight left the broth end up with a greenish tint. If using whole pieces of chicken, pull them out, strip off the meat, and then put the detritus back in the pot.


*cover and let sit overnight*

Next day:

*boil at least 20 minutes to kill of any bacteria*

*boil until concentrated as much as looks tasty*

*let cool just a little (so you don’t die when splashed with the liquid)*

*strain and refrigerate*

Next day:

Pop off the layer of fat, and you’re good to go.


And then on some cooking show there was a cook suggesting keeping scraps (onion peelings, etc.) in the freezer to make stock. So now I have a bag into which I put the peels of just about anything of the allium genus (if able to be washed reasonably clean), extra herbs that are getting dubious or stripped herb stems, and the occasional carrot or piece of celery near the end of its life.

Even though stock was already fairly economical, I no longer end up using things that would otherwise be food in my stock.

Even easier chicken stock
chicken bits (still whatever is cheapest. You can also save bones and stuff from simple roast chickens and use them)
yellow & white onion peels
garlic peels and ends (maybe a feel cloves of garlic, if those are scanty)
rosemary, thyme, parsley, bay leaf

carrots or celery, if frozen anyway
whole dried red pepper
ginger peelings
sprig of fennel
2-3 cloves

*boil* (for as little as 45 minutes after it actually starts boiling enough that things are pretty well thawed)
*cover and let sit overnight*
*boil* (minimum of 20 minutes at a hard boil*
*strain and refrigerate overnight*
*pop off fat layer*

Still every bit as tasty, but now something that can be done in the evening after a chicken dinner instead of a whole project on its own

Notice there’s no step in here about skimming off foamy scum? That’s because after the very first time I tried it, I couldn’t be bothered. After all, you are still going to strain the soup, and the main reason cookbooks give for that anal retentive bit is to have a clear and lovely soup, and I like mine thick and a bit opaque.

But now that it’s so easy, what about other kind of stock?

Well I’ve successfully made pork stock, but unless you are using it for something that will taste strongly of pork (red beans & rice, greens… and that’s about all I’ve come up with), it’s a bit too strongly pork flavoured and tends to take over the dish. (but it’s the same recipe as lamb, so keep reading)

Beef stock – is a pain in my ass! It was such a relief later to read in the Best Recipe cookbook that it was also a pain in their ass. Either you have to use almost a 1:1 ratio of beef to water, or you have to add a few chicken pieces to give the stock some body while you hope the beef flavor is stronger than the chicken one. It’s not worth doing unless you have a craving for homemade onion soup that neither restaurants nor Trader Joe’s can satisfy, but you won’t be saving yourself any money to make it at home.