Recently in the kitchen it has been days of things-I’ve-been-meaning-to-do-for-months. Things like finding a recipe with the word “salad” in it that I actually like. And roasting a whole chicken. And trying to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe (still working on that one).
Also on the list has been to make my own chicken stock. I’ve been buying a lot of whole chickens recently, especially when the organic ones are on sale for 1.99 lb. I cut them up into breast and thighs and such and wrap them up for the freezer (I make sure I am never short on chicken in my freezer…kind of like how people like Paula Deen and Ree Drummond are afraid of getting short on butter). And then I’m left with chicken bones and pieces and fat and I’ve been collecting them in bags in my freezer for months with plans to make chicken stock.
Which of course has never happened until now. And it was so…satisfying. To be able to take the chicken leftovers from my freezer and combine it with scraps I had in my fridge and turn it into something that I would normally buy in a carton in the grocery store? I felt so self-sufficient. Like a pioneer or something.
I think that absolutely everything I used in this chicken stock were things I already had on hand. The chicken, leftover carrots and celery that I’ve been keeping in the freezer as well for such an occasion, herbs from the backyard, garlic that I always have. Perhaps the only exception is that I bought an onion, since onions and I have issues and I don’t tend to keep them around.
A few days after I made this, I used it in risotto, just like Ina Garten does with her little take-out containers of homemade chicken stock. And I put the rest in my freezer just like she does as well. My recipe is a bit less fancy than hers though. Parsnips? No, I don’t really keep those around. Whole chickens? Uhm, no I am not going to buy a whole chicken just to use in chicken stock. Scraps are perfectly acceptable.
And even though I’m sure I’ll be buying chicken stock from the store on a semi-regular basis still, I’m also ready to continue putting all those freezer leftovers to good use.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Makes 2 to 3 quarts (8-12 cups)
Chicken parts (what remains of about 1 whole chicken)
1 large yellow onion, cut into quarters
2 carrots, chopped coarsely*
2 celery stalks, chopped coarsely*
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
8-10 thyme sprigs
8-10 parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
2-3 quarts (8-12 cups) water
1. Put the chicken, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf all into a large stock pot. Pour enough water in so that all of the chicken is covered (8-12 cups).
2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and let the stock simmer for 1 hour.
3. Remove the pot from the heat and let the stock cool slightly. Pour through a wire mesh strainer into storage containers with air tight lids and refrigerate (up to a couple of days). To store the stock in the freezer, chill overnight and then the next day use a spoon to skim off the fat that will have solidified on the top of the stock. Then place the containers in the freezer. Defrost before using.
*So many other vegetables can be used here in place of carrots and celery. Other herbs can be used, too. The key here is to be smart: use what you have on hand.