Well the beauty and chill of Fall came and set in so quickly, and it feels like winter is just around the corner. Even though it’s getting colder and darker every day, I have been thoroughly enjoying Fall this year. The changing weather and colors are so inspiring to be knitting up something wooly and warm, and cooking up something warm and comforting in the evening.
I love making lots of soup this time of year, and always need so much stock for it. I used to load up on chicken stock from Costco, when they had the Pacific Natural Foods organic chicken broth which came in a box of 6 quart-size cartons, and at a great price. Costco just quit carrying that and switched to the Kirkland stock, which I don’t trust so much to be so natural and organic. So I decided to start making my own. In the last two weeks I’ve made two pots of Chicken Stock and am working on stocking up a lot of it. =)
One of my favorite things is having homemade soups and stocks in the freezer all winter. It’s so great to pull out on those cold nights when you don’t feel like cooking but just want something homemade and warm.
I buy whole local Hutterite chickens at the grocery store here, and usually get 2-3 at a time so I always have some on hand. It’s less than $2/lb this way, and so nice to know where it comes from.
::Homemade Chicken Stock::
(Note: Use one whole chicken (neck and other giblets optional), or if you have a few carcasses and bones, roast them at 350 F. for 30-40 min., then use in stock. Also can cut the whole chicken in pieces and then set in pot if you’d like to enhance the amount of nutrients and gelatin in the broth. On thawing: I take the bird out of the freezer, set it in my sink full of cold water, it thaws quickly. Rough chop all vegetables, and use with or without the peelings.)
1 (4-5 lb.) roasting chicken
1 large yellow onion
1 head of garlic, cut in half crosswise
3-4 stalks celery
3-4 sprigs each of fresh rosemary, thyme, and/or parsley
2 bay leaves
1-2 t. black peppercorns
1 T. kosher salt
Rinse the chicken and set in stockpot, whole or cut into pieces. Toss in the remaining ingredients and cover with 7-8 quarts of cold water. Bring to a boil on high heat, once it reaches a boil reduce to med.-low so you maintain a gentle simmer. Skim off the foam/scum off the top often during the first hour and a half of cooking. Simmer uncovered 4 hours, adding a little hot water as needed to keep everything submerged.
Halfway through the cook time, you can remove the chicken with a tongs from the pot onto a cutting board. Let it cool enough to touch and peel off all the meat and use this later in soup, pizza, burritos, etc. Return the carcass and bones back to the pot and finish cooking.
Strain stock through a fine mesh strainer into another large stockpot or heatproof bowl and discard all of the solids. Cool immediately in an ice bath or fridge, store in fridge for up to 3 days, or pack in containers and freeze for up to 3 months.
At the restaurant I work at, the chef cuts all the whole Sage Creek chickens into the pieces he needs for one of his dinner entrees, then sets all the carcasses on a large baking sheet and roasts them for 40-ish minutes. Then sets them in a large stockpot and makes stock with the roasted bones. Whether you do it that way or with it whole, meat and all, it’s bound to be delicious, good for you, and so rewarding. …And make the whole house smell wonderful!