One of my favorite comfort foods is a slow roasted chicken. It is easy to prepare, makes your home smell heavenly, and usually provides leftovers for another meal. Once you’ve picked the chicken off the bones, save them! They can be kept in the refrigerator for about a week or frozen if you can’t get to them right away. While you are at it, save your veggie scraps–carrot peelings, ends from celery, mushrooms, and onions, even kale stems–to use in your stock as well.
I used to follow a recipe for stock; now I just follow a basic technique. Save those veggie ends, then simply throw them in a large pot and use the following recipe as a basic framework. My stock is a little different each time depending on what is in my vegetable drawer. Sometimes, I might not have fresh herbs. This time, I forgot the bay leaves. Basically, the more veggies, the richer your stock will be. When I don’t have a sufficient supply of vegetable scraps (which may be frozen and added to over time), I cut off the stem ends from my carrots and celery so I am only using the pieces we wouldn’t eat anyway. (My grandmother, always one to economize and never ever waste, totally would have done this, too!)
Follow these simple guidelines for quarts of healthy, luscious, golden stock that can be used in a myriad of ways. (And click here for my falling-off-the-bone Slow Roasted Chicken recipe!)
- Bones from one whole chicken
- Giblets and neck if you have saved them
- 1 onion, skin on, cut in half
- 1 head garlic, skin on, cut in half horizontally
- 2-3 carrots, cut into chunks
- 2-3 celery stalks, including any leaves, cut into chunks
- leftover ends of other veggies, if desired, such as leeks, mushrooms, kale stems, etc.
- 1-2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
- Several sprigs fresh parsley and/or thyme or 2 teaspoons each, dried
- 2-3 bay leaves
Put all of the above ingredients in a very large, heavy-bottomed pot. Cover with water, bring to a boil, and immediately reduce heat to low. Keep at barely a simmer (uncovered) for three hours. The stock will be better if you do not keep it at a rolling boil. Add water as necessary to cover the bones and vegetables.
After three hours, remove from heat and allow to cool to a point that the stock won’t burn you. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer (see notes) into another large pot and cool completely in the refrigerator. Any fat will rise to the top once cooled and may be easily skimmed off the surface before transferring to containers for storage.
- If you do not have a fine-mesh strainer, simply line your strainer/colander with cheese cloth. Then you can squeeze the cheese cloth to extract every last bit of stock. I also have someone hold the strainer so it doesn’t slip.
- I like to freeze in quart or pint-size deli containers. Freezer bags also work well and can be frozen flat and thawed quickly. The bags with the stand-up bottom will make getting the stock in much easier.
- Date the containers and mark the amount of stock (i.e., one cup, two cups) so you can thaw the amount you need for any given recipe.