Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Groundwork: Quickest Chicken Stock

Chicken stock: you're supposed to make your own, but I usually just take it easy and buy the carton or can. Works well enough. Well, if I'm going to make every recipe in How to Cook Everything, I might as well start with chicken stock, the base for so many of the recipes in the book. Michael Ruhlman's Elements of Cooking make it seem like you're not worth shit if you don't make your own stock, but Mark Bittman is the one who makes it seem manageable to make.

Take a whole chicken (sidebar: this may be very recent-college-grad of me, but I never realized how amazingly cheap a whole chicken is. Damn! I felt like I was stealing!), a celery root, some onions, carrots, salt and black pepper, add water (MB says 14 cups; I used a lot more, like 20+), bring to a boil then reduce to low heat for about an hour, or til the chicken is done. This is what MB calls Quickest Chicken Stock, and it really is. Didn't take very long, or even a whole lot of work, and now I have more stock in my freezer than I know what to do with. Luckily, I have the rest of HTCE to fill me in on the many uses for chicken stock.

But the best part of this recipe may be that it doesn't leave you with a dried out bird when you're done straining the stock. Rather, you get a really tender chicken to do whatever you want with. I carved it up (according to illustrations in HTCE, of course) and threw it in the fridge, saving the bones for more stock later on. You can do that, right?

I have to say, something about making your own chicken stock gives you this sense of accomplishment, like you're doing it the good old fashioned way. It feels good. I can't recommend it enough. And it makes your house smell good.
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