Mar 19, 2014
A Lesson in Chicken Stock
A couple weeks ago I attempted my very first Roasted whole chicken as a nice Sunday dinner for Cameron, London and myself - Sydney didn't last long enough that evening to try it. It turned out alright, a little on the dry side, so I'll baste more often next time, but with the juices in the pan, we were able to over come that issue. All in all, I was pretty proud of myself and the relative success of the experiment.
And Cameron, London and I had a lovely dinner around the table, a habit Cameron and I want to work toward establishing as the girls get older. It will definitely help when all of us can eat the same dinner, at the same time.
There were some leftovers as a result of this dinner and 5 lb bird. And thus launched my idea to attempt making homemade chicken stock. We use chicken stock pretty frequently in our house, particularly when making rice so we buy the pack at Costco. With the idea that we will have actual chickens some day, with more roast birds in our future as they stop laying eggs, learning to make chicken stock didn't seem too far fetched and would allow us to fully use our birds all the way to the end.
Plus, finally, literally years, since begging my mom for Martha Stewart's Cooking School cookbook for my birthday or Christmas, I actually opened it up and used it! (I think I got it just as I got pregnant with London so life kind of ran away from me)
I knew one of the first lessons was making stock, and the first recipe in that lesson was making Chicken Stock (which I learned once I opened it for the second time).
I loosely followed the recipe, and over the course of the 1st weekend of March, I made my first batch of chicken stock. Martha's recipe called for just two carrots and two celery stalks - I bumped those numbers up a little. All in all, it was a pretty easy process and in 1 1/2 hours on Saturday, we had the stock. We poured it into a bowl to let it cool to room temperature over night.
Sunday morning we removed the layer of fat that had accumulated on top of the broth (surprisingly, there wasn't that much) and re-heated the stock. Once it was warm, we set about pouring it into Pint-sized canning jars. We ended with 7 jars. One of those jars' lids didn't pop like it should to seal it properly so that one got placed in the fridge for immediate use that next week.
And use it we did - about half of it went into a Chicken with Cremini mushroom sauce recipe we love. The homemade stock definitely affected the taste of the dish - in a very delicious manner. The sauce had much more flavor than it usually does. Now I'm hooked on only making homemade chicken stock.
I found the whole process to be pretty easy even though it spanned two days. For the most part, it was a hand-off exercise once everything was in the pot until it was time to can. And the house smelled delicious the entire time. Because of it's simplicity, and the added flavor homemade over store bought makes, I am definitely considering weighing the cost of purchasing a bird every once in a while for a roast chicken dinner and stock, over just purchasing the stock from Costco every few months. At least while we don't have chickens. Likely, the store bought cans we have now will be our last.