Taking “stock”

Recently, you may recall that I bought a brand new set of knives, complete with 8 different types of the shiny, sharp instruments. But after playing with them for a few months, I realized I don’t really know how to use them all. To solve that conundrum, I took a Knife Skills class at the Institute of Culinary Education with chef Brendan McDermott. While I am still not an expert by any means, I do feel much more confident in my slicing and dicing.

One of the tips Brendan gave the class that really stuck with me, is just about any of the “parts” that you might normally throw away after chopping them up can actually be put into a stock. Think onion skins, the tops of carrots, the stems from broccoli, bones.  I have a little more time on my hands these days, so this week I decided to put my newly found knife skills to the test and tackle making my first chicken stock.

The Greenmarket in Union Square not only offers a wide selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, but also organic meats and poultry straight from the farm. I bought a whole chicken breast still on the bone from Wildcraft Farms, along with a container of chicken necks, and started on my mission.

It wasn’t that hard, but making the stock did take a pretty big chunk of time (about 6 hours altogether). The result was worth every minute. Once the stock was complete, I used it to make homemade chicken noodle soup. It was the best I’ve ever had, if I don’t say so myself.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Stock (Makes approximately 4 quarts)

  • Whole chicken breast with the bone in (includes back bone) and chicken necks (rinsed –  your butcher should be able to provide)
  • 3 -4 jumbo carrots, roughly diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, roughly diced
  • 3 -4 celery stalks, roughly diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, halved
  • Onion powder
  • Fresh or dried thyme
  • Lemon pepper seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Cold water
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 6 qt pot
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Then the fun starts. Using a cleaver (yes, I got to use my cleaver!) split the whole chicken breast into two, and remove the back bone, setting it aside.
  2. Next, coat the two halves of the chicken breast with olive oil (leaving the skin on) and liberally sprinkle with salt and lemon pepper. Place chicken in oven safe pan or cast iron skillet and roast for 45 minutes (or until cooked through).
  3. While the chicken is roasting, put some more of those knife skills to practice by dicing your onions, carrots and celery and halving the garlic cloves. Then add all these ingredients to the 6 quart pot, along with the back bone that you reserved earlier and the container of chicken necks.
  4. Fill pot with water nearly to the top, and then add spices (onion powder, thyme, lemon pepper seasoning and bay leaves) and bring to a boil.
  5. Boil for approximately 30 minutes, and then bring to a simmer. Your chicken breast should be finished roasting about this time as well. Remove it from the oven, and remove the remaining bones and add them to the 6 qt pot. Continue simmering for 4 – 4.5 hours, stirring occasionally. Skim any fat or particles that come to the surface.
  6. After the stock has simmered for 4 – 4.5 hours, strain the liquid into another large pot or bowl using a fine mesh strainer or put cheese cloth into a regular colander to strain out any solids. You may want to do that a couple times.
  7. Place liquid in a container and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, skim any fat off and your stock is ready. You can either keep it in the fridge for 3 – 4 days, or freeze it for up to 4 months.

Stock has myriad uses – from decadent pasta sauces to risottos to homemade soups. For my first endeavor into using stock, I decided on the classic Chicken Noodle Soup. Plus, it was a great way to use the leftover carrots and chicken from the roasted chicken I made to create the stock, and those dry noodles that have been in my cupboard forever. Here’s what I did and what you’ll need:

Ingredients

  • Chicken stock
  • 1 – 2 cups pulled/diced chicken
  • 1 -2 cups diced carrots
  • 1 yellow onion (optional)
  • 1/2 cup celery (optional)
  • Olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of a pot)
  • Dry noodles (whatever you have on hand or your preference)
  • Salt
  1. First, bring a pot of water to a boil and add a handful  or 2 of the dry noodles. Boil until the noodles are al dente.
  2. In another, larger pot, coat the bottom of the pot with oil and add vegetables.  I personally don’t like celery or onion in my chicken noodle soup, so I didn’t add to this round – but I know many people do. Cook on medium heat until the veggies are soft.
  3. Then add about 2 quarts of the chicken stock, diced/pulled chicken (I used what was leftover from the previous night’s dinner) and several pinches of salt, and bring to a boil for about 10 minutes. Feel free to add more salt to taste.
  4. Add cooked noodles to bowls that you’ll eat the soup from, and then top with the chicken soup, and voila – you have homemade chicken noodle soup! (one of these days I’ll learn how to make my own noodles too!)

Enjoy!

 

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