Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chicken Stock

What's "In Season" about chicken stock?  Well, if you eat local, in-season chicken, then the stock you make from it ends up being "In Season" too!  Over the summer I roasted a fresh chicken every three weeks, stuck the carcass in a zip-lock freezer bag and put it in the freezer for making stock at a later date.  Well, the date had come!  Here's how I did it:

First, I thawed the chicken carcasses overnight in the garage (since it was cool, it was the same thing as using the refrigerator) in preparation for the big event.  First thing in the morning I placed all the carcasses, as well as drippings I had been saving from roasting the chickens all summer, in two stock pots, covered them with water and brought it to a boil.  I skimmed off the brown scum, as well as any rosemary leaves that were floating on the top, then allowed the stock to simmer all day - about 12 hours; that way I could get as many nutrients as possible from the bones.  Part way through, I removed the lids so it could cook down a bit and allow the flavor to intensify. At the end of the day, I strained the broth through a mesh strainer into another stock pot, removing the bones, meat and skin, and added sea salt until I was satisfied with the flavor.  I chilled it overnight in the refrigerator.  In the morning, I skimmed the fat off the top, then filled wide-mouth quart mason jars with 3 cups of stock each (any more than that, and you'll run the risk of cracking the jar if you plan to freeze it) and put them in the freezer.  Yum!!  It was so satisfying!  Of course, it's not possible to attempt something like this if you're not going to be home all day, but I was and thoroughly enjoyed the process.  After all the jars were safely stowed away, I even checked the freezer occasionally to make sure it was still running - I felt like I had gold in the bank and wanted to make sure it was safe!  :)  There's all kinds of good benefits to organic chicken broth, so I'm eager to take advantage of it these next months as I use it in various recipes.

Does the recipe sound too simple to be true?  Well, it isn't!  According to Maria Rodale on the website, anything more than an organic chicken, water and salt just messes up the flavor.  My stock included some onions left over from the chicken-roasting process and the meat had a subtle rosemary flavor, but that was it!

Update, 5/17/11

I bought a pressure canner two months ago and finally worked up the courage to try using it.  Why is everyone afraid of using a pressure canner (me included!)?  There definitely was a bit of a learning curve to it, but it was worth being able to can a bunch of chicken stock in glass jars and not worry about breakage in the freezer, or hogging up freezer space.  Also, it's much handier to open a jar of canned stock vs. remembering to plan ahead and defrost frozen stock.

For today's batch of stock, I had purchased frozen chicken backs from the farm where I buy my chickens.  It made even tastier broth than the what I made using the roasted chicken carcasses.  Yum!  And, what's even better, it's loaded with all kinds of healing properties!

Update, 11/2/15

As handy as it is to have canned stock on hand, I have reverted to simply freezing it.  Wide mouth pint jars work great and are freezer safe!

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