Chicken Stock, Easier than You Think

Chicken Stock Does the idea of making homemade chicken stock sound daunting to you? Even though it is a great cost saver? What if I told you it’s a WHOLE lot easier than you think? Here’s the deal…making your own chicken stock not only saves you money on buying actual chicken stock (duh…we KNOW that) but it also saves you money because you are using more of the groceries you buy instead of throwing stuff in the garbage. (sounds strange I know) Let me explain…I will share a link with you as to what I use as a BASIS for making my own chicken stock. (I bold that because, I DO NOT follow it EXACTLY…a major habit of mine) Like I have said many times before…I like to save time in the kitchen when ever possible. So, instead of chopping up the veggies like the recipe suggests, I save chopped up veggies in my freezer throughout the month or so. For instance: the ends of onions that you’ve chopped up and can’t chop anymore, normally it’s garbage, not now…now you put it in a Ziplock bag and put it in your freezer. The odd ends of celery…the leafy parts, normally thrown away, NOT NOW. The seedy part of the inside of a green pepper, the ends of tomatoes….well you get the idea. I also add some garlic, that I’ve grated or used a microplane when adding garlic to other things, which usually leaves me with the little root end of the clove…I put those in my bags in the freezer. If you don’t have those little bits of garlic, maybe chop up a clove or two and throw it in the pot when you’re making stock. Pretty much ANY veggie you cut up and have pieces leftover, that you would normally throw away, put it in a bag in the freezer. Once you have so many bags that they’re getting in the way, you know it’s time to make some chicken stock. I might add, if you don’t normally have celery…I recommend having it to make the chicken stock. It just doesn’t taste right with out it. Onto the recipe.

Got the Stock Pot out and all my bags of frozen veggies ready to go.
Got the Stock Pot out and all my bags of frozen veggies ready to go.

Here is the link to the recipe. It suggests using turkey, and you can it won’t make that much of a difference. I usually buy 2 large bone-in skin-on chicken breasts, (seeing how it’s just my hubby and I) organic  grass-fed if you can afford it and find it. You want this to be as healthy and chemical-free as you can make it. I try to buy them on sale when I can. (sometimes I forget I need it until the last minute…but I TRY to plan ahead, I can usually tell when I’m getting low on stock) I like the 2 chicken breast idea just because it gives me plenty of white meat chicken in the end that is easily shredded and can frozen in bags and added into recipes for quick dinners. (If you have a larger family you may want to buy assorted chicken pieces, sometimes you can get those cheaper than chicken breasts, and if you like dark meat, just use chicken thighs or legs…but there will be more fat in the broth at the end that you may want to drain off) I also add about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, 1 because it’s good for you and 2 because I’ve read it helps to breakdown some of the good stuff that is in the bones of the chicken. I don’t add much cause I don’t want to taste it in the stock. This recipe also talks about scraping the brown bits off the pan after you roast the chicken/turkey. I use…and this comes from my cooking degree…a little bit of wine and heat the pan a bit on the burners of my stove. The wine will help loosen those bits on the pan and makes it easier to scrape them off it also adds a little extra flavor to the stock. (I would say maybe 2 tbsp. of wine…if that doesn’t seem enough to help loosen the baked on bits, add a tiny bit more) I use dried herbs instead of the fresh herbs, just because I have them on hand and don’t want to go buy some just for making some stock. I don’t really measure the spices, I just kinda eyeball it. I put them all together in a small bowl (as you saw in the picture above) while the chicken is roasting.  That way, once the chicken is done and the bits are scraped and in the pot, I just dump the spices in. I want to warn you, the roasting of the chicken IS going to make a mess out of your oven…sorry…it does a lot of splattering at that temperature and it will give you a messy pan to clean. But if you scrape off MOST of those stuck on brown bits…it shouldn’t be too bad to clean.

The wine/brown bit liquid in, veggies and spices added. (I had a lot of asparagus bits in this batch)
The wine/brown bit liquid in, veggies and spices added. (I had a lot of asparagus bits in this batch)

Once the chicken pieces are roasted and the brown bits have been scraped off the pan, I first pour the wine/brown bits liquid in the pot and then add the spices and stir them around a bit, let them get a bit aromatic. Then I’ll stir in the veggies so they can get coated with the spices a little, then add the chicken and water. I pour enough water to cover all the ingredients by about 1 inch. (I believe the recipe says that as well) Sometimes I have so many veggies added that it requires more water to cover and that’s FINE. You’re gonna leave this simmering on your stove for several hours and it will slowly get more and more concentrated and won’t taste watery.

Chicken in. Ready to add the water.
Chicken in. Ready to add the water.
Water in. Waiting for it to start simmering away.
Water in. Waiting for it to start simmering away.

When all the stuff is in the pot and the water is added let it simmer away. I would suggest putting the lid on for the first little bit, till it starts to simmer. You don’t need it to be a full boil the entire time, so you can turn it on a lower setting once it starts to simmer and remover the lid. You can now clean the pan you dirtied and wipe down the counter tops. I usually do some laundry, cause the laundry room is right by our kitchen. Just keep an eye on it and stir it occasionally. But you don’t always have to be hovering around it. That’s what I find so EASY about it, once it’s all in the pot, you are free to do whatever just make sure you’ve set a timer for approximately 4 hours. (You CAN let it boil less…I wouldn’t go lower than 3 hours, otherwise it will be too watery, the flavor and goodness hasn’t had time to come out of the veggies and chicken.) Your house will smell delicious and will make you want to snack most of the time this is simmering. lol When the timer has gone off and it’s simmered down to approximately half of what it was. (or whatever the recipe says ;-)) You get the “fun” part of draining it. I would let it cool a bit before you attempt this. This can get messy and splash, so you don’t want to burn yourself. I put a large sieve resting over a large bowl and pour about half of the pot into it, let it drain well…at this point you can discard any of the veggie mush that is left. (You’ve got the goodie out of them) If there is still room in the bowl for more stock I will pour some more into the sieve. Sometimes I have to get rid of what’s in the bowl before I can fit more, so I start portioning it into containers, mostly 1 cup containers…but I usually run out and have to use larger containers. (I use the 1 cup containers because most recipes call for only a cup or 2 of stock…plus it is easy to defrost in small batches.) Once you have all the liquid drained, you can now take the chicken pieces and separated the meat from the bone. (It pretty much comes off the bone by itself.) At this point, you can use a fork to shred it or just leave in chunks whichever you prefer. I shred it and put it in smaller portion bags and put them in the freezer, now I have shredded chicken whenever I need it. (I also freeze the chicken stock and pull it out of the freezer whenever I need it, you don’t always need it right away) So there you have it. This isn’t a QUICK recipe, but I don’t consider it to be difficult. You now  have stock and you KNOW how much sodium is in it and all the ingredients that are in it. You have the extra vitamins and goodies from all the different veggies you added, the apple cider vinegar and some of the nutrients from the bones of the chicken. NO SUGAR (other than what might be in the wine you added) or strange ingredients added. Nice and healthy broth.

The finished product. (As you can tell I didn't have a whole lot of 1 cup containers this time)
The finished product. (As you can tell I didn’t have many 1 cup containers this time)

Hope you’ve all found this helpful and handy. Let me know if you have any alterations you make. I love trying different things. Please like my page on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Tips2theTest?ref=hl and follow me on Twitter @TipsTest

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