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Monday, November 10, 2008

Chicken Stock for the Soul

I love making stock. It's one of my favorite things, actually, because it's wicked easy, tastes astronomically better than anything you can buy in the store, and uses "trash" ingredients that I'd otherwise just toss. Our default winter dinner is roast chicken and root vegetables (usually parsnips, turnips, carrots, and potatoes), another super simple supper that basically involves tossed a whole chicken into a roasting pan on top of a layer of diced veg, and letting the oven do its thing. Okay, so there's a little more to it than that, but not much. And when you're done stripping succulent, juicy meat from the chicken bones, you can use those bones to make a wonderful, rich stock.

Which is what I did last week. Just threw the carcass in a pot, covered it with water, and added a few aromatics: carrot, celery, onion, and a handful of black tellicherry peppercorns. My bouquet garni was built in, since I roasted the chicken with half a head of garlic and about a dozen branches of fresh thyme inside. Those flavor boosters made it into the pot along with the chicken. Then let the whole thing simmer away! You can keep it on low heat for hours, teasing more and more chicken essence out of the bones. Keep the surface relatively skimmed of fat and the obvious stuff that floats to the top. You can tell it's done when it smells good and the broth is a beautiful dark gold color. It will be darker than the store-bought crap. Because it's better.

Cook's Illustrated, my new magazine obsession, recommends ice cube trays as a convenient method for storing stock. You end up with a ton of the stuff, and it keeps great frozen, but thawing it can be a real bother. But not if you freeze it into cubes! It's brilliant, just pop those suckers out and into a saucepan to heat up and you've got stock in seconds. Whenever I have homemade stock on hand, I'm inspired to take a whack at those recipes where stock is a major ingredient so the extra wonderful taste will shine through: soups, risottos, things like that. I made a mushroom risotto last week, a risotto with pancetta and peas this week, and I'm contemplating some butternut squash soup. It's the season, after all!


I swear, you were a chef in another life:) Now I want to go make some stock!

Look at you Ms. Fancy Pants. There you go with the homemade stock and I just burnt some freaking string beans from a can. I can't stand it. I suck! I'm stepping up my game.

Mmmm...I can smell the goodness from here.

OOoh. Ice cube trays. What a great idea. I just made chicken stock but froze it in 8oz containers.

Since I'm a DGIT (domestic goddess in training) my DS just gave me a subscription to Cook's Illustrated. What a great magazine! I'm totally inspired.

God, I love homemade stock...I'm so done with hotel food! Only four more days till Paris...

BTW, the ice cube idea is genius. I love Cook's Illustrated.

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