Monday, January 3, 2011

How to milk a chicken

Why more people don't make homemade stock, I'll never understand. It's so easy, cheap, and WAY better for you than the stuff you get in a carton at the store, too. Some of that stuff they've taken to calling "culinary stock" which basically means they splashed some white wine into it, or an herb or two. It's certainly not worth TWELVE DOLLARS a gallon. Yes. They are charging 2.99 a QUART for culinary stock at Wegmans.
It's BONE WATER, people. TWELVE DOLLARS A GALLON FOR BONE WATER. If gas was that expensive, there would be riots.

So here's how never to get robbed blind again...
Since we've already established it's bone water, you need some bones. I keep the bones from whatever chicken roasts I've made. Yes, I know, I'm strange. But, it's an insult to the dead chicken not to get everything you can out of it, so I keep the bones. I simply toss the thing, with any remaining bits on the bones, including the aromatics in the cavity, into a shopping bag, and freeze it.

Once you get two or three, you can make about two gallons of stock out of them, or you can make about a half gallon out of one. Remember, people are willing to pay twelve bucks a gallon for this stuff.

We start with either a basic large pot for one chicken, or a five gallon pot for two or three chicken carcasses. (That's a nice word, isn't it?)

You need two-four stalks of celery, an onion or two, a handful or more of baby cut carrots, and optional, a whole chicken.

Put the carcass (yuck) and the whole chicken if you are making soup in the bottom of the pot. Cover completely with COLD water. Do NOT attempt hot water, the stock won't turn out, and you will have boiled chicken bones for nothing.  Toss in the rest of the stuff-go ahead and peel and halve the onions, break the celery in pieces. but there's no need to be pretty.

If you've got some whole herbs you like, go for it. I REALLY like tarragon better than just about anything, and sage is wonderful. Many recipes will tell you to add a bay leaf, if you keep those on hand, go ahead. I don't.

Turn the heat to low. Don't boil. Simmer. Little bubbles. That's it.

Now go. Clean your house. Sort your laundry. Write a blog five people are going to read. What ever you want to do. It's cool. Every once in a while, you can poke at it a bit.

It's magic. You will have broth in about two hours. If you are cooking the chicken, it can take up to five. Don't boil. Simmer. 

I save the salting till the end of the process. It will take A LOT. Like two tablespoons, if you are doing three chickens. But remember, stock is an ingredient you will be seasoning later, so don't go over board.

Now, chill the stock. Mine is sitting on the back porch right now because it's so cold. I don't worry about skimming all the funk as it goes, because I'm going to strain it. After the stock (or broth, if you cooked meat in it) is VERY COLD, chip the fat layer off the top, and poor it through a fine mess strainer. My colander counts. Discard the bones and veggies, and line the strainer with a coffee filter. Strain again.

Et, voila! If you want "culinary stock" pour the strained broth back into the pot, add a cup of white wine, and a bundle of whatever herbs you like, and bring it back to a simmer to cook off the booze.

Pour into quart sized containers, and freeze or refrigerate depending on usage plans. Congratulate yourself on saving twelve bucks a gallon. Or, make this soup. It's to die for.

1 comment:

Grace Matthews said...

My grandmother and aunt both do this. I probably should, but I just never do.

Fellow Blog Hopper:)