RECIPE. Jan 30, 2010

Easy Chicken Stock

Simple. That’s not the word I would have used when thinking about making chicken stock. I bought the stuff in the store so often I thought it was something you could only get at the store. It wasn’t until last Thanksgiving, when I watched my mother-in-laws husband make Turkey stock from a leftover carcass, that the impossible seemed possible. It not only became possible, however, it was down right ridiculously easy and convenient. I wandered into the kitchen and watched him take some bones, water and vegetables and throw them in a pot together and let them simmer.

I wondered if he had lost it. I asked what he was making and when he told me, I laughed, thinking he was joking. He wasn’t. He was completely serious and so was the outcome. The flavor from the stock blew me over. What had I been waiting for?

Day one I roasted a chicken. Day two I used the meat for leftovers. Day three I made my very own stock. I paced and checked and stirred and worried that in the end, mine would turn out tasting like flavored water. Bland, useless and a big disappointment. As the ingredients and my anxiety simmered, the smell took over the house, wafting onion, garlic and chicken for hours and hours. Finally, after separating the liquid and letting it cool just a bit, I look my first slurp and found myself quickly dreaming ways to marry this wonderful creation with other recipes. It felt like such a monumental moment, like making your own cheese or sewing your own clothes. I had taken something that had once only been an inventory item in a store and made it myself. I think this was the day I became an actual food snob, inflating my ego and giving me the confidence to make everything I tasted. These moments in life are meant to treasure as ritualistic moments of transition from one phase to another. I was officially obsessed with creating something out of nothing. I was getting good and it and I wanted to share this pleasure. So here it is, try it out and savor your accomplishment as the next step towards world domination.

Place carcass in stock pot or crock pot. Pour in 6 cups water or until water covers bones almost completely. It is okay if a few parts of the bones stick out above the water. Cut celery, onion and carrots into chunks about 1/4 thick and throw into pot. It is completely acceptable to use old celery and carrots that are shriveled and ashamed in the corner of your produce drawer.

Mince garlic and throw into pot as well. Toss in seasonings of choice (I use dried italian seasoning and some fresh herbs I have in the fridge), salt and pepper. If using crock pot, put heat on high for 30 min. If using stock pot, turn heat on high and cook until boiling.

If using a crock pot, after 30 min on high, switch to 6 or more hours on low. If using a stock pot, once you bring the water to boiling, turn the heat down and simmer for 6 or more hours, covered. The longer the simmer, the more the ingredients incorporate in the water.

After contents are done simmering. Let cool for at least 30 min. Pour liquid through strainer into separate container to separate bones and other larger items from stock. Toss what is left in strainer and refrigerate or freeze stock. Stock will refrigerate for one week and freeze for up to 6 months.

Some side notes:
If you have time, you can just remove the bones from the liquid, keep the rest of the ingredients, add some noodles and you have yourself a delicious chicken soup.
You may also cook a whole chicken this way and remove the flesh from the bones at the end, add some noodles and have some delicious chicken soup.