Friday, 11 January 2013

Chicken Stock

Chicken stock is the first recipe in Professional Cooking by Wayne Gisslen (the textbook for the culinary program I attended), and for good reason: it's the base for so many sauces and soups, and can add flavour to almost any dish. It's also an economic way to use up kitchen scraps, and saves money on meat (a whole chicken is way cheaper than individual chicken cuts). There are many videos on YouTube showing how to process a whole chicken.

I don't really follow an exact recipe when making chicken stock. The basic formula is chicken bones plus a 2:1:1 ratio of onions to carrots to celery plus a sachet of seasoning.

Dried bay leaf
Dried thyme
Parsley stems
Whole cloves, at most two

Use these in any ratio. Wrap securely in a cheesecloth and tie with string, or alternately, stuff into an empty tea bag and secure tightly.
In a large pot (or two pots), add your chicken bones and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and skim off any scum that accumulates at the top of the water. Then, add your sachet and chopped onions, carrots, and celery. That's it! Simmer for about 4 hours, carefully strain through a cheesecloth, and you're done. Easy peasy lemon squeezey.

If you're experienced with canning, you might be able to can the stock for future use, or you can freeze it. I like to pour it into ice cube trays, freeze, then remove and place into a freezer bag. This way, I can add a cube or two to certain dishes, or defrost enough for a recipe (one cube is about 1 oz.).

As you're prepping your meals during the week, save up the little scraps of onion, the carrots peels, and the leafy and end parts of celery. You can also save unused parsley, and parsley stems. Throw this all into a freezer bag as you go, and when it's full, use it in your stock.

Remember to never add salt to stock! The point is to create a flavourful base, which you can add salt to later as you prepare your final dish.

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