Sunday, 29 March 2015

... chicken stock

Hello everybody ...

I hope everyone is having a terrific weekend. The sun is shining brightly here in eastern Ontario even though it is still colder than normal.

I read not too long ago some statistics about food waste by North Americans. It stated that 30% - 40% of the food purchased was thrown away. I find that to be absolutely staggering. If you have read this blog before you know how I feel about wasting food. So today I thought I would share an idea about how to turn some scrap materials into something delicious. Chicken stock.

We eat quite a bit of chicken at our house. We are hoping that we may even have our own meat birds later this year. In the meantime I purchase chickens, usually whole, at the grocery store like most people. We either eat them whole as roast chicken or cut them up and use the pieces in a variety of ways. 

When we have a roast chicken we strip the carcass after dinner and pop all the bones into a bag in the freezer appropriately labelled "Chicken Bones". When the bag is full, I make chicken stock. That would usually be about 4 chicken dinners. 

For those of you who prefer not to eat meat, I also have a bag in the freezer labelled "Vegetable stock" into which I put bits of onion, celery trimmings, etc. and when it is full, I make vegetable stock. Same principle.

Now, back to the bag of bones. When it is full I simply dump it into a large stock pot. No need to even defrost. 

I add some chopped onion, carrot, bay leaves, peppercorns, parsley and a pinch of course sea salt. Fill it up with cold water and bring to a boil. 

I bring it to a boil and then simmer for a couple of hours. Then I just turn it off and let it get cool enough for me to handle it.

Now it needs to be strained. I know a lot of people use cheesecloth but I prefer to use a tea towel. I can use it over and over again and I just toss it into the laundry after use. I wet it thoroughly first and wring it out. Then I drape it over a large colander over a bowl large enough to hold all the stock. Pour everything from the pot into the colander. Most of the liquid will drain through right away. Now, gather up the corners of the tea towel and give it a good squeeze to get out all the good stuff.

Now you have a nice clear bowl of stock and a tea towel full of bones. Dump the bones back into the pot.

At this point I know that you will be tempted to just chuck all those bones into the garbage, thinking that they have done their job. Please think again.

I take the time to sort through all that stuff. There is usually quite a lot of meat still stuck to those bones. I pull all that meat off and put it into a bowl. I also pull out all the carrot pieces as the dogs will have that as a treat with their dinner. NOW, you can toss what is left into the rubbish bin.

There is usually enough chicken to make a small pot of soup so I add some vegetables, maybe some rice or noodles and a few cups of the stock and I have a lovely pot of soup for a few lunches.

I then put the big bowl of stock, covered, into the fridge. Any fat will rise to the surface and solidify and I can easily remove it the next day. I then pour the cold stock into plastic containers, label and date them, and put them into the freezer. A large pot of stock will usually give me about 20 cups of stock.

I know what you are thinking. That is an awful lot of work just for a few cups of stock. Why not just buy it? Well, first of all, why would you want to waste all that wonderful chicken when the stock you are making is basically free! And really, how much work is it? Just a bit of chopping and picking off the meat. Most of the time the stock is just cooking happily without any work by me. Also, where I live, chicken stock is expensive. And lastly, you know what is coming I am sure, just what is in that purchased stock. Have you ever read the labels? I know exactly what is in my stock ... just the good stuff.

So have a go at making stock. It is well worth it.

Thanks so much for stopping by. Hope you visit again soon. Cheers.

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