Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Homemade Stock- yes, it's all that it's cracked up to be!

I have been making my own chicken and vegetable stocks for several months now. It's really easy and makes a tremendous difference in how soups and stews turn out. If you're like me- you go through a lot of chicken stock this time of year. I also make a lot of roasted chickens so I finally started to keep the carcass to make stock the next day. It's a great way to use up wilting vegetables as well.

Today I am making Chicken Stew with Biscuits. This Barefoot Contessa recipe is delicious! It will satisfy anyone- (well, maybe not a vegetarian, but you get what I'm saying). Her recipe calls for using bone-in chicken breasts, that you roast and then shred. I am using a whole chicken because I wanted to make my own stock. I don't have the frozen pearl onions- so instead, I'm adding celery, chopped rosemary, and also some button mushrooms. It's just a chicken stew- feel free to use what you like! Also- I don't use quite as much butter as Ina. Use what you're comfortable with!

Now, back to the stock. There are thousands of recipes for making chicken stock. I have found that the key is to use a lot of aromatic vegetables and herbs and to simmer for a long time. When I use a carcass from a roasted chicken- I will simmer for 3 hours. In today's case, I don't want to overcook the chicken- so I will remove it once it's done, shred the meat, and then return the carcass to the simmering stock for another hour. If you give it the time, you'll end up with a beautiful dark stock- looks nothing like store bought stock.

Here is my "recipe"

Chicken Stock:

1 whole chicken (or carcass)
2 or 3 carrots, washed, and chopped in 3 pieces each
2 or 3 stalks celery, washed and roughly chopped
1 whole onion, peel left on and quartered
1 head garlic, cut in half horizontally (I didn't have garlic today- so I substituted leeks)
Bunch of fresh thyme
2 bay leafs
Freshly ground pepper- ground coarsely
Pinch of kosher salt

Cover the chicken with water- only enough water to completely submerge the chicken. Add vegetables, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 3 hours*. Make sure pot is covered but that the lid is slightly cracked. Keep an eye on it- making sure your water does not evaporate.

After stock is done simmering, strain through a sieve into a clean pot/bowl. Refrigerate the stock after it's cooled. The fat will harden at the top, which can easily be removed.

*Remember- if using a whole chicken and not just a leftover carcass- remove the chicken once it's done cooking, remove the meat- then return carcass to pot.

This will make about enough stock for a homemade soup and in this case, my chicken stew. It freezes very well, but I tend to use it right after I make it. I still have to rely on store bought stock- but if you have the time- I highly recommend treating yourself to homemade. It really will take your recipes to the next level.


Emily said...

Mmmmm! I've been making turkey stock when Curtis smokes turkeys but I've never added veggies or done it w/ a roast chicken carcass. Genius! Can't wait to try both your stock and stew recipes.

Jen said...

I agree 100%! Homemade stock is the best! I have been using the carcass from the rotisserie chickens from Costco! The chicken and biscuit recipe sounds amazing!

Hillary said...

How long does it usually take for your chicken to finish cooking if you're not using a carcass? Dang, I can't believe we're talking a about chicken carcasses. We're old.

Jenny said...

Haha! I know- after I wrote the post, I thought "Did I just use the word "carcass" that many times?"

It seems to take the chicken about an hour and a half to cook. Obviously, depending on the size of the chicken.

Can't wait to make a big pot of stock after Thanksgiving!

Missy said...

Carcass is such an ugly word. I don't like it! But I would still try any carcass creations you girls make.

Anonymous said...

A hearty amen to the overwhelming yumminess of chicken and bisquits.--Adam

CheshireKate said...

I find that adding a little balsamic vinegar to the mix gives it an amazing depth of flavor.