Saturday, May 4, 2013

Chicken Stock - The Basics

Stock (beef, chicken, fish) is a flavored water preparation which forms the basis of many dishes, and in this case...I am making the base for chicken soup. When I make any stock at home I don't just make it on the spur of the moment. I plan for it for days or even weeks ahead of it. Every time I cook I save any vegetable or chicken parts. I don't save chicken liver, heart, and gizzards and I do throw them out. I do save the wings, back, and neck. I freeze them and take them out a few hours prior to using them.

This time, though, I didn't have any saved chicken parts and I went to our favorite supermarket, Adams Fairacre Farms, in Newburgh, NY and I bought two packages of chicken parts.

I have a plastic bag that I save the vegetable parts that I will use in my stock. For example, the top part of the leeks is a perfect example. Please think before throwing a piece of food in the garbage.

We do go to the supermarket twice a week and I always pay attention to the area in the vegetable section because they have an rack where they drastically reduce vegetables to get rid of them. So, I go there and grab whatever I can use, but always I have to use these vegetables the same day or the next.

Here are the ingredients:
  • two table spoons of olive oil
  • two medium onions
  • tops from two leeks
  • 3-4 carrots
  • one pepper
  • one zucchini
  • parley
  • three bay leaves
I also add:
  • fresh ground pepper
The list is separated in two parts because after the first full boil you should skim the top of the pot and if you do that you will remove most of the pepper. For this reason I add the pepper after I skim the top.

I start with two tablespoons of olive oil that I heat in medium high heat and I add it in my 8 1/2 quarts pot. 

I add the onions that have been coarsely chopped.

 I also add carrots,

 tops of two leeks (not the bottoms),

one pepper and one zucchini. All are coarsely chopped. Don't forget that in the end you will separate, strain, the liquid from the solids and you will discard them. I cook them in the pot for ten minutes.

Nothing for you, Raspy. She will have to wait for the time to strain the stock. Then, I will pick the meat from the chicken parts and save it for Raspy. For now she will have to be mad at me. Look at her plotting to overthrow the current regime.

After cooking the vegetables for ten minutes I add enough water to almost the top. Let's not forget the chicken that we need to add to the pot. Make sure that there is enough room for everything. It will take about ten minutes for the water to boil. Before the boiling of the water you need to stay around the kitchen and not go out for a walk.

Here are the two packages of chicken parts I bought.

Now that everything is in the pot we wait for the boiling to start.

Once the boiling starts reduce the heat to a simmer and use a spoon to remove as much of the scum that is floating.

Once it goes to a simmer cover the pot and let it be for three hours. Of course keep checking it and give it a stir once in awhile.

Purposely I am not using any salt because I have high blood pressure. You can find chicken stock at the supermarket: regular and low sodium. Say what? Control your salt intake and...have it without sodium. Is anyone listening?

Have several freezer-friendly containers that are multiple of a cup. This way, when you need two cups of chicken stock you will have the exact portion and it will be a no brainer. With the supermarket stock you have to deal with these containers that once you open you must consume within a week.

Three hours later I turn off the heat source and wait another half hour for the stock to cool down. After the stock has cooled down I use my most favorite ladle that I purchased a few years ago while visiting Hellas. I use the ladle to remove the largest parts that float in the stock. Then, I have a sieve ready nearby to strain the liquid.

Here is the pot with almost all vegetables and chicken  removed.

So, I started cooking the stock about 9:30 at night. It took three hours for it to cook and another half hour for it to cool down. Then I took time to pick any meat that was on the bones for...Raspy. Here I am 1 o'clock in the middle of the night thinking about this cat and you would think that she would love this wholesome treat. Wouldn't you? Wouldn't you? I need your feedback people, because the next morning I prepared a small dish with this chicken for Raspy and SHE DIDN'T LIKE IT! She didn't even take a small bite. She likes bbq chicken, pulled pork, but she doesn't like plain chicken. Go figure. Now what am I going to do with all this chicken?

Here is the bowl with all the parts from the pot and to the right Raspy's portion. Of course I took this picture in the middle of the night. 

Here you can see the various containers being filled with the stock. Finally I got several containers ready and put in the freezer. 

Now I have all the chicken stock I need. It should last me about two weeks.

Happy eating.

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