05 January 2008

Homemade Chicken Stock

Remember I told you in this post that I had an ulterior motive? This is it. I figured that as much as I say "chicken stock (preferably homemade or low-sodium)" I should at some point post about homemade chicken stock. It's not scary. Really, it's not. I thought it was, but it's just a little time-consuming - and even that isn't really active time. You just have to be around the general area of the kitchen for a few hours.

Homemade Chicken Stock

Bones from 1 Chicken
Approx. 4 celery ribs
Approx. 4 carrots
1 onion
Approx. 4 cloves of garlic
2 bay leaves
About 2 teaspoons whole peppercorns

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Pick as much meat as possible off the chicken bones. Wash the celery and carrots well. Cut them into pieces about the size of baby carrots. Cut the onion in half (you can peel it if you want to, but you don't have to). Pop the garlic out of it's papery skin.
2. Place everything but the bay leaves, peppercorns and water into a baking dish. bake for 20-30 minutes, until the kitchen smells delicious.
3. Transfer the contents of the baking dish to a large stockpot. Add the bay leaves and peppercorns. Add enough water to cover.
4. Cook over low heat (the stock shouldn't come to a boil) for at least four hours. Every half an hour or so, check on it and use a shallow-bowled spoon to skim off any scum or fat that has collected on the top.
5. When the stock is done, cover the pot and let it cool. Remove the bones and the large pieces of vegetables from the pot. Strain the stock through a mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

- This is not a scientific process. Cook the chicken stock until you think it's ready. The longer it cooks, the richer it will be and the darker the color will be. But it's all a matter of personal taste.
- Don't go out and buy cheesecloth just for this. I use old t-shirts that would otherwise get thrown away (clean, obviously). I just get them wet first so they don't get saturated with stock and drip all over the counter.
- You can adjust the seasoning however you like. This is just a basic recipe.
- For fish stock, substitute fish head and bones and such. For beef stock, use beef bones. For shrimp stock, use shrimp shells and tails. For vegetable stock, use vegetables. You get the idea.

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