Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chicken stock

So yesterday I mentioned that I was saving the bones from my roasted chicken to make chicken stock. After dinner last night I took all the meat off the chicken bones and started the stock. I took the chicken I pulled off and put it into two foodsaver bags to use later for other recipes. Now the smart thing would of been to label the bags BEFORE filling them with chicken and foodsaving them, but that would of made to much sense so that is why the writing looks like my 3 yo did it. Now all the juice in the bottom of the pan I poured into a container and saved in my fridge too. Not sure what I will use it on but it was to yummy to toss.

To start the stock I chopped up some onions, celery, and carrots. This is a GREAT way to use up ends of veggies you cut off, things that were getting old, ect. Just take them and stick them in a bag in the freezer and then when you get ready to make stock pull them out. Nice money saving tip. Notice how I did not peel the onions or carrots and you can use the leaves on the celery too. You are going to toss this all when you are done so don't worry about it. Now the general rule is to do a 2,1,1 ratio. So 2x as many onions as carrots and celery. For this batch I used 3 C onions, and 1 1/2 of carrots and celery each. The bones are in the bottom of the pot. After I cut the veggies I put the bones on my cutting board and got out my aggressions by chopping up the bones. This exposes the marrow and helps make a better stock, especially when you are using bones that have already been cooked. Once the bones(including the neck bone I saved in the fridge from the roasted chicken) and veggies were in the pot I covered everything with water and put it on medium heat until it started to boil, then I turned it down and allowed it to simmer for about 3-4 hours. Do not let it boil, just simmer. Boiling will give you a cloudy stock. Now you can also add seasoning but since I was making soup out of the majority of the stock I wanted to wait to season it when I use it but you can throw in some whole peppercorns as well as a bayleaf, and a little salt (be careful with the salt amount because the more it cooks down the more concentrated the salt will get).

Here is what it looked like when I was done simmering it. Now as it simmers there will be a frothy foam you will see forming on the top. I forgot to take a picture of it but you will know it when you see it. You want to skim that off the top whenever you see it and discard it. Now get a slotted spoon and gently scoop out as much of the bones, chicken, veggies, basically anything solid that you can. We are going to strain it through cheesecloth next but getting all the big bits out will help you not splash yourself with hot stock.
This is what was left in the pot after getting all the big things out. Mind you I had a very small amount of floor space to work in because my dog was sitting there looking at me with his sad eyes begging me to let him eat it all up. I picked a few veggies out for him but was careful not to give him to much because the bones have splintered and he can choke, so as much as your dog will beg, don't share.

At this point I had to call in the husband to help me. I cut a piece of cheesecloth bigger then my bowl and doubled it so there was 2 layers of cheesecloth. As I held the cheesecloth around the edge of the bowl (allowing the middle to dip down a bit so it does not spill over the counter) he slowly poured the stock into the middle of the cheesecloth. Make sure your bowl is big enough to fit the stock because you will not be able to see when the bowl is full and we don't want it spilling over onto your hands. Now the point of the cheesecloth is to get all the little bits and pieces out of the stock so you will have a nice clear stock so do NOT skip this step.

Ahhhhh there it is. The yummy yummy goodness you just made out of a bunch of stuff you normally throw in the trash. You are not done yet though. This next step will take HOURS. Thankfully you can sleep while it happens. Now let the stock cool enough for you to put the top on and then into the fridge. Then go to bed. What is going to happen is all the fat is going to rise to the top and your stock is going to turn into a gel. Yep a gel. Remember when I chopped up all my bones to expose the marrow? Well the marrow release collagen which is what makes it gel up and turn yummy!
This is what mine looked like in the morning.
There is not a lot but there is some and you need to remove it. This is really easy to do. Just take a spoon and skim it off the top. Do not go digging down into it because then you will get into the gel and that is the good stuff. Just ever so lightly run the spoon along the VERY top of the bowl. Do this until you have removed as much as the fat as you possibly can. The picture below shows how my spoon is barely touching anything and the picture to the right of the spoon picture shows the stock after I got off the fat. And there you have it. Chicken stock that is TONS better then store bought, super easy, and basically free! Now you can either put the stock back in the fridge to use soon or section it into cup servings and freeze it to pull out whenever you need chicken stock for a recipe.

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