Monday, February 28, 2011

Homemade Chicken Stock - So Easy it Should be Priority

I swear my wife and I have fended off colds this winter by making our own chicken stock.  Whenever we feel something coming on, we take out a jar of this chicken stock, boil it a couple minutes with minced garlic, and chug it down.  Mmmm... garlic cocktails! This is not your average stock from the store.  Slow cooking the bones, organs, and even feet, make this a gelatinous, nutrient packed addition to soups, sauces, rice, and more.  If you're wanting to get into eating real food, I recommend this as one of the first things you make routine.

My mom has been telling me for years, never let a good carcass go to waste.  I'm sure she's glad to see I've finally heeded her advice : ) I've made homemade chicken stock a few times now, and I was not happy with how long it was taking me.  Picking the good meat out after it was done cooking was a huge pain.  My solution was to cook or grill the whole chicken first for a meal.  I then removed as much leftover meat as I could from the bird to be used for future chicken dishes.  Any other meat that comes off of the bones while making the stock is sacrificed to the dogs, because it's not worth my time picking out the tiny bones, organs and other 'stuff' I'd prefer not to eat.

Most of the credit for my knowledge of chicken stock goes to Katie over at Kitchen Stewardship.  She also has an excellent post on all the benefits of homemade stock.

1-2 pastured chicken carcasses and bones leftover from previous meals
16 oz chicken organs
1 lbs chicken feet
2-4 Tbl raw apple vinegar
5 large organic carrots
5 organic celery stalks
1 large organic onion chopped
2-3 cloves of organic garlic (no need to peel)
1 bunch organic parsley

*measurements, by no means, need to be exact for this

Begin by placing the chicken carcass, leftovers, organs and feet into a crock pot.  Pour in enough cold water to cover everything in the pot.  Add in the vinegar and let everything rest (with the crock pot still off) for 30 minutes or so.  The acid from the vinegar bath will help to draw out additional healthy minerals in the bones. 
Turn on  your crock pot set at high.  Once it comes to nice simmer turn the crock down and walk away for 20 to 24 hours.  See, this first part of making the stock couldn't be easier. 

You now have roughly 24 hours to chop up the vegetables at your convenience.  I like adding the vegetables during the last hour or two of cooking because you still get the nutritional benefit of them in your stock, but they don't get so mushy.  It's easy to pick back out the carrots and celery and save them for a soup later.  I also read that mineral content is increased if the vegetables are added in the end.  Perhaps someone can enlighten me on why that is.  

Throw in the parsley during the last 10 minutes of cooking.

The stock is now done!  Pour everything through a fine screened strainer into a large bowl.  At this point you can pick out some carrots if you wish or some goodies to give to the dogs.  I don't worry about the bones with my dogs because the 24 hr cooking process makes them super soft. 

I like to pour my stock into individual glass jars.  Don't be afraid of the fat that will congeal at the top.  In fact, the thicker the better!  That's cold/flu fightin' medicine right there : ) After they have cooled they are ready to go into the freezer.

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