If you have a freezer and pantry stocked with good basic ingredients you can put together delicious meals in no time. By the time the farmer’s market starts up again my stash of homemade marinara sauce, roasted peppers, frozen berries and organic beef and pork will be depleted and I’ll be in restocking mode once again. One of the most versatile and important basics I keep in my freezer year around is homemade chicken stock.
Roasted chickens at Costco are a terrific timesaver, inexpensive, versatile and delicious. I buy one every couple of weeks and use the meat for the usual recipes, and when most of it is gone I know I still have one of the best parts of the bird left over for chicken stock. Never throw away any of the skin, bones, or juices in the container. When you’ve used all the meat you want, break the carcass into several pieces and place it in a large pot. You can use any leftover bits of chicken, of course, I just happen to like the Costco birds. Chicken cooked with the skin and bone is so much more flavorful and moist than the boneless, skinless pieces available everywhere. If you have any large pieces of meat left over remove them before cooking and save to add back to the stock after you’ve strained it.
So…into the pot with the chicken bones and skin add:
- 2 onions, peeled and quartered
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces
- 3-4 stalks celery, preferably the leafy tops
- a large handful of fresh parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 10 whole black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
Add enough water to cover by several inches and simmer for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
At the end of cooking time let the pot cool to room temperature and place in the refrigerator. After several hours you will be able to skim any fat from the stock. Return the pot to low heat until the juices are liquid again. Strain the stock into a large container, pressing out the liquids from the vegetables. Discard the bones and cooked veggies.
You now have culinary gold. When Ina says “add homemade chicken stock” she knows what she is talking about. I freeze the stock in 2 cup containers, usually cottage cheese cartons, and use it for soups, sauces, and gravies. Cook noodles or rice in it and add a few veggies and you’ve got a great side dish for summer BBQ’s. With so much flavor in the stock you don’t have to do much else to ingredients you add.
If your stock is a little thin, reduce it for 1o to 15 minutes, or add a little water if it is too thick. Its all a matter of how you prefer it. But once you try this and get used to using it in your favorite recipes you will never go without a few containers in the freezer. …..pure gold.