Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Homemade Chicken Stock: A Base for Great Soups

A time-honored example of kitchen thrift, using leftover chicken carcass to make stock not only makes richly flavoured broth, but is the culinary stepping stone to creating delicious homemade soups and sumptuous braises. Every time we have a roast chicken dinner, the leftovers — lemons, string, skin and all — go into our freezer until there are 3 or 4 carcasses, enough to make a batch of homemade stock. I have even been known to disappear with the Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey carcass from other people's homes! The aromatics for both stocks are exactly the same: onions, carrots, celery, garlic and a handful of herbs — parsley, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves — plus a few black peppercorns. The leftover carcasses are added, chopped up if necessary, and thrown into a deep heavy pot. Covered with cold water and brought to a boil, then gently simmered for 3 to 4 hours, or even longer if you wish. The longer the simmer, the richer the stock. Chilled overnight and defatted in the morning, the rich tasty stock is set to go.

Roughly chopped onion and carrot with parsley, thyme, rosemary, smashed garlic and whole peppercorns

The leftover chicken carcasses — lemons and string too — are added to the pot and covered with cold water, then set over high heat until it comes to a boil

Once it comes to a boil, reduce the stock to simmer uncovered for 3 to 4 hours

Simmering after 3 hours...

Simmering after 5 hours...

Allowed to simmer gently overnight, the stock has become richer and much darker in colour

Poured into a colander, the stock is then drained of all the bones and vegetables

The stock is left to cool for about 30 minutes before being chilled overnight,
then defatted in the morning

Chicken Stock
Makes 10-12 cups

3 lb leftover chicken carcasses, including skin
1/2 head of garlic, unpeeled and bashed
5 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, roughly chopped
5 bay leaves
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
5 sprigs of fresh parsley
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
10 whole black peppercorns

Place the chicken carcasses, garlic, vegetables, herbs and peppercorns in a large, deep-bottomed pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and skim any scum that has formed. Simmer gently uncovered for 3-4 hours, skimming as necessary. Strain the stock into a large bowl and allow to cool for about half an hour, then refrigerate overnight, and the next day, remove any solid fat that has formed on the surface. The stock can be used immediately or stored in resealable bags or small plastic containers and frozen for up to 2-3 months.