Friday, November 4, 2011

Homemade Chicken Stock

When the temperatures start dropping outside, I start thinking about warm comforting foods. While I would usually pick baking over cooking any day, I love cooking in the fall and winter months. I would much rather prepare a hearty beef stew, steaming bowl of chili or a filling lasagna over a salad any day. Don't get me wrong, I like light spring/summer foods, I just don't find them as fun to prepare.

Added to the list of good comfort foods I enjoy would definitely be soup. In the sake of being completely honest here, I must confess, until this year, I always bought my soup in a can. It was easy, seemed inexpensive and well, it's just what I had always done. When Nick and I were making the menu for last week, I was trying to think of different things to have for lunch. I was tired of making sandwiches, and it was cold, I wanted something warm. When he said, "Buy some soup", I think I responded with a snort. I was tired of unsatisfying soup from a can. And that's when it happened. I decided this would be the season of the soups. Homemade soups. The plan is this: to make a big batch of soup every Sunday evening that I will be able to eat on all week long! I'm two weeks in and so far I'm loving it! But before we get to the yummy soups that have been coming out of the Maxwell kitchen, we have to start at the beginning.

So many soups have a base of chicken stock, so it only makes sense that if you want a delicious end result, that you need to start with something delicious. Enter the homemade chicken stock. So much more flavor without all the salt. And it's also much more cost effective!

A shot of my stock chilling in the fridge.


Here's the ingredients needed...we're talking basics here.



And if you can score an organic chicken that's been marked down...even better! This may be the easiest thing I've ever made in my kitchen.



Homemade Chicken Stock
adapted from Tyler Florence

Yield: About 12 cups

Ingredients:
  • 1 whole chicken, 3 1/2 - 4 pounds, rinsed, giblets removed
  • 2 carrots, cut in large chunks
  • 3 celery stalks, cut in large chunks
  • 2 large white onions, quartered
  • 1 head of garlic, halved
  • 1/4 bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Preparation:
  • Place the chicken and vegetables in a large stock pot. Cover with enough cold water so that the chicken is just covered, too much and the stock will be weak. Place over medium heat.
  • Add the thyme, bay leaves and peppercorns and allow it to slowly come to a boil.
  • Lower the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, or until chicken is done. Add more water during this process if it is needed to keep chicken covered.
  • Carefully remove the chicken to a cutting board. Once cooled, remove skin and bones and shred meat for future use.
  • Strain the stock through a sieve into another pot to remove vegetables and herbs.
  • At this point you can use the stock immediately, or cool and store in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for longer storage.
Seriously kids, it doesn't get much easier than that. And I promise, it's oh so worth it! Next up, some great soups worthy of this liquid gold!

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