A glorious blue morning*.
The greyish-blue hue on the white blinds pulled me outside with camera in hand to capture this photo.
Back in the kitchen, still wearing my PJ, I poured myself a cup of coffee and then filled a pot with water, enough to cover some chicken bones, leftovers from last night’s roasted chicken dinner.
Another pot of chicken stock was simmering on the stovetop.
Are you using store-bought stock/broth? Then read this: Invest in stock.
If you’re using a store-bought stock, I really really want you to give this a try, at least once, and make your own stock—invest in the stock! After you try and taste the difference, you’ll understand why I insist. And here are a few tips, just in case…
*This works with the evening’s cup of coffee too. PJ included.
Whether morning or evening, simmer the stock for 1, 2, 3 hours—as much time as you have. We’re not making stock for the Culinary Institute—taking a shortcut is OK. The result would still be far superior to any store-bought brand.
If you work full-time, you can do this during the weekend, while drinking your coffee and flipping through the newspaper. (Who reads a newspaper in the morning these days?)
If you’re not going to use the stock right away after it’s done, (Although if you start making stock when you’re drinking your morning coffee, it might be done in time for lunch), cool it and store in the fridge, or freeze it.
To cool the stock quickly, create an ice bath. Do not let it sit for hours outside the fridge to chill! Fill a clean sink with cold water and lots of ice, soak the pot in the ice bath and stir from time to time until the stock gets cold enough to store in the fridge.
Finding Nemo bones and carcasses
Chicken bones are getting hard to find in the stores. (I bet they use them to make pet food.) So when I find some, I buy as many as I can/enough to fill one pot.
If there’s none to be found at the store, what can you do? Roast a whole chicken and/or start a savings account, a.k.a “a collection”, of bones from the roasted chickens you cooked and store in the freezer until you have enough to invest in the stock.
Roasting the chicken, versus using it raw in the stock, is an added step but in the end it makes concocting a stock easier and just as fast because it saves you the fat skimming step.
See how much fat is accumulated:
(This is after I put the cooked carcasses in the pot and poured the fat into a big jar.)
You’d want to skim the fat or else you’ll have a too fatty stock.
As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing’s wrong with some fat rings twirling at the top of a soup/stock. I remember playing with the little rings of fat floating in my grandma’s chicken soup, trying to create one large circle of fat… Fascinating, really. But, ah, that happened a zillion years ago.
This fat is delicious to use instead of (on in addition to) butter or oil for frying food, in (bacon) mashed potatoes, etc. This is what our grandmas used to do—use the chicken fat. Well, at least mine did. They did not throw away food.
The mesh skimmer
To skim the fat that rises to the surface, use one of these fine mesh skimmers. Get one with really tiny holes. I’ve got one like that with teeny tiny holes that even hold the liquid-y fat! It’s marvelous.
However, if you roast the chicken or use leftover cooked chicken bones and scraps, you won’t have a lot of fat to skim.
… and by the time I finished this post, ta-da!, the stock was done!
What tips do you have up your sleeve?