Monday, September 26, 2011

Homemade Chicken Stock

I remember when I was a young wife and mother I had no clue how to really cook.  Sure I could make a box meal, and even thought that I was cooking from scratch when I would open a jar of spaghetti sauce. As for eating out, I was a real trooper!  With three children born in 4 years I became an expert of where the kids could eat for free!  I thought raw meat with the bone still in was gross and scary, and dry beans... don't even get me started (that's a story for another day!)  Little did I know, that 22 years later I would be blogging about real home cooking and back to the basic in life skills.

If you do any kind of home or scratch cooking you well know the importance of stock.  Some of us know it to be the liquid gold in cooking.  A few of the ways I cook with it are, to braise vegetables, when basting roasting meats, and of course, in the soups, sauces and gravies we eat throughout the week.  If you purchase the ready made stocks or broths in the store they are filled with sodium, preservatives, and MSG just to name a few of the evils.  They are also expensive compared to the cost that goes into the product.  You can make an even better product than what you could buy for pennies on the dollar, let me show you how!

Chicken bones and scraps from a left over chicken
A couple of carrots
1 large onion  (chopped)
Cracked pepper corns
Garlic (optional)
Bay leaf (optional)

Place all the above ingredients into a large stock pot or dutch oven cover with water and bring it to a boil.

You can see the chicken was leftover from the night we had rotisserie, the skin is a little dark around the edges!

Then cook on low (no bubbles) for 4-6 hours. You can also cook this recipe in a crock-pot if you will be gone for the day.  Just turn on low and leave for 6-8 hours.
 Notice how the vegetables have softened and the amount of liquid has reduced a bit.  Let cool then strain the bones and veggies from the stock.

After all the scraps are removed from the stock you can discard them.  For a nicer cleaner broth you can strain the liquid in a piece of muslin or straining cloth.  To make this step a little easier you can pour the stock into a bowl, then place a strainer back into the cooking pot. 

 Cover the strainer with the muslin.

Pour stock through cloth & strainer back into cooking pot.

This is the yuck that the muslin caught!  Some people skip this step but not me.

Now you can store the stock several ways.  If you know you will use it all during the week then just refrigerate it.  I like to store mine in several different containers so I always have the right amount on hand.

These are Ball freezer containers you can find in the canning section, and an ordinary ice tray.  Once frozen I pop the cubes into a ziploc and toss into the freezer.  When cooking things like green beans or steaming veggies I use a few cubes.

Hope this helps you in your own cooking adventures! 

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