Something from Nothing

I’m working on cleaning out the freezer again today. I have been saving bones from cooked chicken breasts in the freezer marked, “For soup.” I marked it so I wouldn’t see a weird looking bag of mystery contents and throw it in the trash on the next clean-out. And they really could be trash. I mean, you’ve eaten the chicken, so why keep the bones? Well, they make lovely stock, when you cook them with a few veggies and some water.

I pulled out my bags of bones, yes there were two, and put them, still frozen, in a pot. I filled it about half full of water and added three carrots, a shallot and several cloves of garlic. I wished I had more shallots, but I wasn’t running to the store just for shallots or onions for stock. I also threw in a container of chopped celery I found when I was rooting around in the freezer for the bones. It wasn’t marked, but I know I chopped up the rest of a bunch of celery when I realized I wasn’t going to use it before it went bad. Can you tell the freezer is my savior when I am a victim of poor planning? By the way, I found the pesto I was looking for when I made the peach jam the other day. Now I just need to remember what I was going to do with it.

I let my freezer bounty simmer for about two hours and then tasted it. Pretty good, but needed salt, of course. A little salt, a little black pepper and I was ready to strain out the bits and take stock of my stock.

Now I have beautiful, homemade chicken stock for making soup, adding to recipes that just need a cup of chicken stock or making plain rice more interesting. I am going to use part of today’s stock to make chicken and dumplings, along with leftover roast chicken. But that is tomorrow’s post…

Something from Nothing Chicken Stock
from The Cook’s Life

 Of course you can make chicken stock from raw chicken and then use the meat for soup or other recipes. I prefer to bake or roast my chicken and use just the picked over bones for my stock, but feel free to start with bone-in breasts or thighs or a whole chicken. If you are cooking the chicken, be sure not to let the water come to a boil or you will end up with tough meat. Keep it at a gentle simmer.

Leftover bones from 6-8 chicken breasts or from a whole chicken
3-4 carrots
2 medium onions or 4 medium shallots
5-10 cloves garlic
3-4 ribs celery

As you can see the amounts vary considerably – adjust to what you have available and your preferences. Place the bones in a large pot (at least 6 quarts) and add water until it is about halfway up the bones. They don’t have to be covered with water. Put the pot over medium heat and let it start heating while you prepare the vegetables.

Peel the carrots, onions or shallots and garlic. Cut them in half or quarters and add them into the pot, poking them down into the bones. Cut the celery ribs in half or quarters and add to the pot. It won’t look like enough water, but the bones and vegetables will shrink and compact as they cook. Too much water and you will have thin, weak-tasting stock. Put the lid on the pot and let it come to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook, with the lid on, for 1½-2 hours, stirring occasionally and skimming off any foam that comes to the top.

After two hours, taste the stock. It should taste like chicken and vegetables. Add pepper and salt to taste – start with ½ teaspoon of salt and go from there. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out.

Strain the stock through a mesh sieve and discard the bones and vegetables. Chill the stock for several hours and remove any fat that congeals at the top. If you want to get really frugal, you can freeze the fat separately and use it to sauté rice before adding the liquid.

If your stock tastes too watery after you strain it, you can return it to the pot and continue cooking it without the lid until it is more concentrated.

Store the stock in the fridge for a few days, or freeze for longer storage. Freeze it in amounts that you want for recipes, so you aren’t thawing 6 cups of stock to use 1 cup of it.

Download the recipe here.

3 thoughts on “Something from Nothing

  1. Way to go Sarah although I don’t see anything in your freezer that we can enter in the “what’s in your freezer contest”. Surely you’ve got something like cow brain, possum, or… well just see Justa’s comment on my blog, you’ll get what I mean:)

  2. Pingback: Heirloom Chicken and Dumplings | The Cook's Life

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