Sunday, April 29, 2012

You Call It Trash, I Call It Chicken Stock

 Homemade chicken stock is easy and VERY nutritious. Additionally, it is made with everything that is generally thrown away. Each time I cut up onions, garlic, parsley or carrots, I put the peelings and stem ends in a gallon Ziplock bag that I keep in my freezer. After we roast a chicken, I put the carcass and the contents of my freezer bag into a stock pot.
 Here you can see the veggie waste on top of the carcass. This batch includes carrot peelings, onion and garlic skin, celery ends and parsley stems. 
 Fill the pot with cold water. Some people say to use filtered water but I really can't be that complicated when I cook. I just use water from the tap. You should add a little vinegar to assist in pulling the minerals from the bones but I almost always forget to do that. 
 Simmer the mixture for as long as you can stand it.
 The water will evaporate and the vitamins and minerals from the chicken and the veggies will be added to the liquid. 
 If the liquid gets too low just add more water and keep simmering. It's best to let it simmer until the bones from the chicken are brittle and break easily. This means you've gotten all the minerals from them and your stock will be very nutritious.
When the stock is finished simmering, strain it into a container or two. I use these glass Ball jars. I generally get between 7 and 8 cups of stock. The fat will rise to the top and the stock may become gelatinous when it cools. You know it's really good if you get a gel. MIne doesn't always gel but it is always good. 

Why is it important to make your own stock? First, take a look at the ingredients of the chicken stock in the grocery store. Here's the list on a Swanson Chicken Broth container:

I don't know about you but I don't find that list very appetizing. Additionally, my broth didn't cost me anything more than time (ok, and the water and the electricity to heat the stove). I used only those items that were left over from cooking something else.

Finally, the nutrition. Homemade stock has so many nutritive values that I hesitate to list them all here. You'll think I'm an infomercial. Kitchen Stewardship has a really good article that explains it all better than I could. Additionally, the Nourished Kitchen website (which is where I learned to make stock) has some great information about stocks, broths and the like.

Today I'll be using the left over chicken and some wonderful veggies from my Market trip on Friday to make chicken soup. The wonderful thing about this kind of soup is that depending on the time of year and the contents of my garden and refrigerator make each batch of soup just a little different. Todays batch will include leeks, sweet potatoes, garlic, carrots, chicken and parsley. Happy Cooking!

1 comment:

Karen said...

I never thought about saving my veggie scraps and using that in making my stock! I always felt bad that I was using perfectly good vegetables only to later strain them out. This is brilliant!

I also never heard about using a bit of vinegar to draw out the minerals. I'll have to try that.

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