Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How to juice a chicken...

Mmmm. Chicken juice. Alright, all kidding aside, see all this?

That's almost a gallon of chicken stock. It's pretty concentrated, as you can tell by the color. Do you have any idea how much a gallon of organic chicken stock costs in the store? An absolutely ridiculous amount, considering that it's essentially made from scraps. Make no mistake, though, this is liquid gold to a serious home cook. It livens up pasta sauce, rice and tons of other grains. Risotto cannot exist without chicken stock -- and risotto is astoundingly cheap to make if you know make your own stock. Risotto, trust me, is on my agenda to show you.

Ready to make chicken stock?
Here's what you need:

A deep stock pot
your leftover chicken frame (picked over bones), cleaned of all stuffing
2 onions
3 small carrots
3 celery stalks
2 bay leaves
I also like to throw in thyme as it is crawling all over my yard, but this is non-essential.

Instructions: Throw everything in the pot (removing peel from onions to keep the bitter away), cover with cold water (a gallon and a half, approx.), bring to a boil, turn down heat, simmer for several hours or until you have to leave the house or go to sleep or something. That's it. Really. You don't even have to chop anything up small. I cut the onion into 1/8's and break the carrots and celery up with my hands. And you thought this would be hard.

Set a colander over a deep container and pour the stock through the colander. Toss out your solids. You are done with them. Do not, as I did groggily one morning, pour half of your stock down the sink reserving the solids before you realize what you are doing. Oh, you think, who would be stupid enough to do that? Just you wait.

Cool stock down as quickly as possible by setting it in a sink full of ice (this keeps it from staying at a dangerous temperature for too long and breeding harmful bacteria). After cooling, put into containers and freeze what you won't use right away -- don't forget to label with the name and date!

So, to be clear, this is essentially what got me started on the roasting whole chickens thing in the first place. It is so nice to have cheap food for a week and, as an extra bonus, have nearly free chicken stock on hand all of the time. Plus, I promise that you will feel like a bit of a culinary bad ass once you start making and storing all of your own stocks -- and that is worth plenty in its own right.

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