Sunday, February 5, 2012

Let Nothing Go To Waste!

Roast a whole chicken?  Don't throw out that carcass!  Barbecue some chicken legs or bone in breast?  Save those bones!  There is still some deliciousness to be squeezed out of them and if you just take the time, you can have a delicious homemade stock.

I make a new batch of chicken stock about twice per month.  Perfect to make on a lazy Sunday, stocks are great for additions to other recipes, for making soups or my favourite, warmed up with a little sea salt and enjoyed as a nourishing drink.

After the chicken is roasted and we've enjoyed our meal, I remove all of the meat from the carcass and refrigerate for weekly leftovers.  The carcass is placed in a large freezer bag and tossed into the freezer until I'm ready to make my stock.  This also goes for any other bone in roasts we make: turkey, duck, venison, beef, lamb, pork, etc.  Nothing goes to waste!

If you can get extra chicken backs, necks and feet from your butcher, these make a great addition and are full of gelatin. You can also make a stock using a fresh whole chicken, just be sure to remove any extra fat from the neck and glands and remember, free range chickens are best!

Homemade Chicken Stock

Time: 4 or more hours  (Lazy Sundays work best)


1 whole free-range chicken or fresh/frozen chicken carcass (extra backs, feet and necks if available)
1 large onion with skin on, halved
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
2-3 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
small handful of peppercorns
2 bay leaves

Place all ingredients in a large stock pot and fill with water (about an inch above the ingredients).  Bring to a boil.  You'll notice a white scum start to form and collect on the surface.  Remove with a spoon, discard and reduce the heat.  Simmer for a minimum of 4 hours.  The longer you simmer your stock, the richer and more flavourful it will be.  I usually simmer for roughly 6 hours.

After 4 or more hours, remove whole chicken or pieces with a slotted spoon.  If using a whole chicken, allow to cool, remove meat from the carcass (reserve for soups and other delicious recipes like yummy chicken salad).  Strain the stock into a large bowl.  If you want to remove the fat, you can place your bowl of stock into the fridge and allow the fat to rise and congeal.  Skim this off and discard.

ladle stock through cheesecloth
Lay cheese cloth in a wire mesh strainer and place over cleaned stock pot.  Ladle stock through the cloth/strainer.  Once strained, ladle stock into clean glass jars using a funnel.  If you are planning to freeze, make sure you leave plenty of room as the liquid will expand.  Failing to do this may cause the jar to crack and this is an unfortunate waste (that I am all too familiar with).  Fill the jar to just the curve in the glass.

Allow to cool on the counter and then place in the fridge overnight.  You can transfer jars to the freezer the next morning; this gives it plenty of time to cool.

Take out a few days before use or you can place in a pot of cold water and bring to a simmer to slowly warm the liquid.

Remember, save your bones!

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