I wanted to give you my “signature” recipe for Chicken Stock (I call it that because I’ve made it so often that I can do it by heart); deep, dark, and delicious, full of vitamins and rich in flavor, the basis for so many wonderful dishes. The stock takes two days to make, which is why you may have seen the recipe but didn’t try it — I just want to encourage you — it’s SO worth it! Most of the time it’s just bubbling cozily on top of the stove making the house smell wonderful while you’re going about your business. The good thing is, you end up with lots of stock; enough to make a soup that will last for days, enough to do that and to freeze some if you want — I use it to make our favorite chicken soup that’s as good for breakfast as it is for dinner. (Soup for breakfast is delicious on cold winter days! Corn Chowder or Butternut Squash, yummmy!) So here’s how to make the stock:
OK, so first you get a large whole chicken, and you need one that includes the giblets — lately, I’m finding that sometimes they are being left out of whole chickens, so be sure the one you choose has the giblets. They’re the secret to making a really wonderful, dark, rich chicken stock, they give it color and depth of flavor. Discard the liver (or do with it what you will); wash the chicken inside and out and set aside.
Wash the giblets (the heart, neck, and gizzard), dry them, and chop them into 1 inch pieces.
Drop the chopped giblets into a pot sizzling with about a tablespoon of olive oil.
Brown them well over high heat. When they’re dark brown, deglaze the pan by pouring about a cup of water into the pot; immediately begin to scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to get up all the little bits and pieces clinging there. There’s a huge amount of flavor in those bits and pieces!
Add chopped carrots, chopped onion, and chopped celery; put in whole black peppercorns, a handful of parsley, and a couple of bay leaves. (You should never salt stock — how much salt to add will depend on what you do with it later.)
Put your washed chicken on top of the vegetables. (I had a couple of extra thighs in the fridge so I added them too.)
Pour in a container or two of organic chicken stock; then add cold water until the chicken is submerged.
Bring the pot to a boil, reduce heat to simmer; set the lid off to the side, and cook for about an hour until the chicken is done.
When it’s just done and beginning to fall apart, use a couple of big wooden spoons to remove the chicken from the stock onto a plate; the stock can continue simmering while the chicken cools to the touch.
When the chicken is cool, remove the meat to a bowl; put the bones, the carcass, and the skin back into the stock; refrigerate the cooked chicken. Partially cover the stock pot again, and let it simmer for at least six hours, but as long as ten is fine.
All this time your house is being inundated with home cooking smells . . . when your friends drop in for tea, coming in to your warm and cozy kitchen, there you are, adorable in your wonderful house, fooling around with things like stock pots and wooden spoons, being a perfect homemaker with no trouble at all.
The stock requires almost no attention while it bubbles away the day, stir it once in a while and add more water if you need to. You can even take a nap while this is happening, and still feel like you’re accomplishing something! It’s the perfect cooking project!
Once the stock is done, it will need to be strained — depending on your kitchen set-up, you can figure out how to do this, but here’s what I worked out.
I put another very large pot in the bottom of my sink, hang my basket strainer over it, and pour the stock through it — I let it drip through until all the goodness is in the pan.
I shake the strainer a bit, leave it for about twenty minutes until the dripping stops. Then I toss all those bones and things into the trash. After cooking for so many hours, every bit of the goodness that was in them is now in the stock!
Put the stock in the fridge for at least twelve hours (do not cover, stock will sometimes sour if it’s covered before it’s cool) . . . until it looks like this:
The fat has risen to the top. It’s very easy to scoop it off and throw it away! And underneath you have essence of organic vitality. The cure for the common cold.
Use it in any recipe that calls for chicken stock (and notice the difference!), you can boil it down to thicken it a bit and freeze it in ice cube trays so you always have a little instant gravy; you can make a huge pot of soup and freeze it in serving-size containers; you can make my delicious ginger chicken and vegetables, or my Chicken Soup.
C H I C K E N S T O C K
(from my Autumn Book page 56)
- 1 large whole chicken w/giblets (it doesn’t matter what the exact weight is)
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 large unpeeled brown onions, quartered
- 3 or 4 carrots, cut in two-inch chunks
- 3 or 4 celery ribs, roughly chopped
- a handful of fresh parsley
- About 20 whole peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 or 2 containers of store-bought organic chicken broth or stock
Wash chicken and set aside. Discard the liver; wash, dry and roughly chop the rest of the giblets and neck. Add to hot oil in deep soup pot. Over high heat, cook, stirring occasionally. When giblets are very brown, add 1c. water; stir and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Roughly chop the vegetables and add them along with the rest of the ingredients, including the whole chicken. Pour in one or two containers of store-bought chicken broth; add water just until chicken is submerged. Bring to boil, set lid askew, and reduce heat to simmer. Chicken will be done in about an hour. Remove it from pot; cool to touch. Remove meat to fridge, put bones and skin back into stock pot. Continue simmering for 5 or 6 hours more; add more water if needed. Turn off heat and let cool a bit before straining it into a large pot or bowl; put the stock into the fridge, uncovered, overnight. The fat will rise to the top; you’ll find it easy to lift off and discard. You can stretch the stock by adding more broth or water, or reduce it to make it stronger. Keep covered (after cooling) in fridge, or freeze.
Try it with this delicious soup . . .
BTW, this recipe came from my first book, Heart of the Home, which was written before I’d heard of immersion hand blenders! These hand-held blenders go right into the pan and make things so much easier; no more “pureeing the soup in batches!”