January 13, 2012

Homemade Stock Market

I love Ina Garten (aka the Barefoot Contessa). Believe me, I really do. She's changed my life and my appetite. "How easy is that?" - the four words that transformed me from an experimental cook to a confidence kitchen aficionado. Well, hopefully.

However, I have a few problems with her chicken stock.

She references her chicken stock quite frequently in her books and on her show, and always says "it's always better to make your stock than buy it." I totally agree, and bagging up chicken carcasses has become one on my favorite things to do, knowing it will one day soon become a gloopy, well-seasoned, practical way to save $5.

But she actually makes it seem much more difficult and expensive than it really is.  The biggest thing for me is that she uses three WHOLE chickens.  My problems with this are two-fold:
1.  Who has a pot big enough for three whole chickens and all the vegetables you're supposed to use?
2.  Who can afford to purchase three whole chickens only to NOT eat them, but instead leach out the nutrients to be used in other meals?  Don't know about you, but good chickens (none of this idiotic antibiotic chicken farm crap) in my neck of the woods cost a pretty penny...like 3,500 pretty pennies.

In addition, I find you don't have to be fussy about much when making stock.  And I have found a much cheaper way, that also has a bit more resourcefulness to it, in a "using the whole animal" kind of way.  I feel like I've done it right when I can make stock without having to go to the market for any of the ingredients.  You have to plan slightly ahead, but it's worth it.

Easier than Ina's "How Easy is That?" Chicken Stock
Makes three to four ziplock bags full

First, save every bone and scrap of meat leftover from other good meals you've cooked in a container in the freezer.  Keep adding to it until you have a big enough container to make stock out of.  Basically, enough to 3/4 fill your biggest pot.  You can save more than just chicken, too, if you want, or omit the meat altogether.  Go nuts!  (I wouldn't mix chicken and fish, though).

2nd, save every scrap of vegetable peelings you can--onion and garlic skins, potato and carrot peels and celery ends, cabbage hearts, pepper innerds. There are no limits--anything you have that isn't moldy. Again, into a container in the freezer (Also great because you'll then have less compost!), and keep adding to it until you have enough to fill the remaining 1/4 of your biggest pot, saving just a bit of room for a full onion and head of garlic. 

Finally, on a Sunday (because it's just better that way) fill up your biggest pot with the meat and veggies scraps.  Halve a whole onion (skins on), and a full HEAD of garlic (skins on), and put in the pot.  Then pour enough water in it to cover all the stuff.  Add a big bunch of salt and whole peppercorns (or ground pepper if that's what you have), add any fresh herbs you have on hand, and if you don't then just use dried ones, like thyme, oregano, sage, parsley, rosemary.  Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for no less than 4 hours.  The longer the better, because it'll get gloopy from all the bone marrow and other good stuff seeping out of the scraps (I'm not painting a very nice picture, am I?).  Gloopy is a good thing when it comes to stock.  Google it.

Once done boiling, use a slotted spoon to get as much chunky stuff out as possible, draining every last drop of liquid.  Discard the chunks.  Then pour the pot of now-mostly-liquid through a strainer/sieve into another large bowl.  Let cool.

Ladel 4 - 6 large ladels-full into a ziplock bag.  Remove as much air as possible, seal up, and lay down on a cookie sheet so it's as flat as can be.  Repeat with more ziplocks until all the stock is gone, laying the ziplocks on top of one another.  Then put the whole cookie sheet, with the teetering stack of ziplocks laid flat, into the freezer.  Freeze over night, then remove the cookie sheet and--boom--stackable bags of homemade chicken stock. Stock Market in your freezer.  Just thaw and enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. You've convinced me to do this! Steak bones and onion skins in the freezer right now. Thanks for the nudge.