Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Homemade chicken stock

I've found that my favorite foods to make are those that don't require recipes.

One of those things is chicken stock. Since it's the holiday season and you may be thinking of cooking some other bird for supper, this goes for turkey or pheasant or game hen, too. All you need is a carcass. Which can make it seem a little scary. (You want me to save the carcass of a 23 pound turkey, and then cook it all over again, you say? Yes. I do.) But trust me: since you've already gone to the trouble of roasting an entire avian creature, turning the "leftovers" into stock will be a cinch.

Chicken stock

1 chicken (or other edible bird) carcass, all the cooked meat removed and previously enjoyed
Salt and pepper

In a very large pot, place your ole' bag-o-bones carcass. Add your vegetables. But wait! You say. You didn't tell me which ones, or how much!

Relax, dear reader. It doesn't really matter. Add some quartered onions and shallots, some carrots or other root vegetables, and some sprigs of rosemary and thyme. I added a quartered, seeded yellow bell pepper that would've been in danger of living out its last crispy days in my crisper. What vegetables do you like? Add them. (Avoid mushy ones, though - crispy, crunchy ones are best.) What herbs do you have? Put those in the pot.

Here's the best part: you don't have to chop, mince, or dice anything. Remove any skin or seeds you wouldn't eat. But when it comes to herbs, throw in the whole bunch.

Now cover everything with water. Put it on your stove and bring to a boil, then cover and simmer low and slow all day or at least four hours. Strain it. Bottle it or jar it. Refrigerate it.

The next day, there will be a layer of fat on the top. Skim it off with a spoon. If it's soupy, that's a good sign. But if it's goopy and gelatinous, that's an even better sign! Don't be grossed out by the depth of flavor that goopiness represents.

Now make it into soup!

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