Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Lost Art of Stock

One of the easiest things you can make from scratch in your kitchen is stock, or "broth" . Chicken and beef broth are both cheap to make, good for you, and taste infinitely better than the crap you buy at the store! No MSG, no artificial coloring or flavors... and if you're confident of the source of your ingredients, you can support an organic/happy meat claim on the finished product.

You can use your stock to make soups and gravies, you can add it to things like mashed potatos or use it to cook your rice, vegetables and pastas. YAY FOR FLAVOR! And all your friends and family will be so impressed with how "domestic" you are! haha.

This is a "time heavy, labor light" endeavor. You need either all day or all night to make a respectable stock.

So, lets get started.
Equipment- Large stock pot (or slow cooker) with lid, big spoon, ladle, big knife, big bowl, stove (or electrical outlet), colander,  and about 6- 1qt containers with lids (we're gonna freeze ours, if you want to pressure can yours, go call your mother for help).

Ingredients- one whole chicken carcass, (or turkey carcass, or 2 lb beef bones), one whole onion with skin, a bunch of celery with leaves, one whole head of garlic with skin, some carrots with the tops,  half a bottle of (really cheap) white wine (red wine if you're doing beef stock), salt, pepper, assorted spices... (now, when it comes to spices, I like to open the container and if it smells right, I add it).

Put the Turkeysaurus Rex in the pot. If it doesn't fit, take the big knife and make it fit, you have to be able to put the lid on in the end. Quarter the onion and toss that in- skin and all (onion skin gives your stock a nice color). Hack up the celery and add that. Chop the crap out of the garlic and add that. Kill the carrots into a manageable size and throw them in- include the greens too. Pour in the wine- no that wasn't for you to drink! Salt and pepper the hell out of it, add some assorted spices :)

Add water until everything is just covered and start cookin'. If you're using a slow cooker, turn it on low and walk away for 12 hours. If you're going stovetop, turn it on and bring everything to a boil, then reduce heat until it's at a steady simmer ( high enough to keep it simmering, low enough that you can leave the lid on without it starting to boil over). Now, I'm not comfortable walking away from a lit stove for hours at a time, especially with gas, so I make this when I can be home for the day and keep an eye on things. So simmer and ignore for the day...

At the end of the day, when your house smells awesome, remove from heat, carefully remove the carcass/bones and discard (make sure you don't leave the trash where the pets can get at it... unless you're trying to do in the neighbor's dog...) Put the colander right into the bowl and pour everything in. Slowly lift the colander and turf the rest of the solids- after 12 hours, they're all cooked to crap, it's not a waste.
Ladle your liquid gold into containers and let it cool for a few hours- you could put the whole bowl in the refrigerator and then pour into containers. Oh, and LEAVE THE FAT IN!!! Don't skim off the fat! Apparently (particularly in chicken fat), the fat is where all the cold-fighting good for you is! LEAVE. THE. FAT. Phew.

So when it's cooled, secure the lids and pop it in the freezer. I like to stick a piece of tape on each container that has what it is, and the month it was made... not like it's ever around long enough to go bad...

And enjoy! You just made something from scratch!

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