Every time I read through a cookbook (which I do often enough that it’s verging on the weird), I end up reading about how awesome homemade soup stock is, and about how crappy all the store-bought stuff is in comparison. I’ve never made soup stock. Not even once.
Today, this is going to change. My first stock is going to be Chicken.
One thing I know about myself is that if something isn’t simple, the chances of me actually doing it are pretty slim, regardless of all my good intentions. The simplest Chicken Stock recipe I have on hand (and, fwiw, “on hand” includes The Internet, so I went through several dozen recipes this morning) happens to be from the Cook’s Illustrated: The New Best Recipe book. This also means that there’s a good chance it’s also the best, since those crazy CI people seem to be pretty good at this sort of thing. (Their web security skills, however, leave a bit to be desired.)
The recipe is, essentially, as follows:
- 4 lbs chicken parts, cut into 2″ pieces
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped medium
- 2 quarts water (boiling)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 bay leaves
- Heat oil in a big stockpot and cook onion for a few minutes. Move onion to a bowl. Brown chicken chunks in two batches. Put chicken and onion back into the pot, reduce heat to low, cover and leave to sweat for 20 mins or so. Turn heat to high; add boiling water, salt, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low, then cover and simmer for another 20-30 mins, skimming foam. (I don’t really know what “skimming foam” means, but hopefully that will become clear as we go along. It’s also optional, so I’m not going to worry about it much.)
- Strain broth, discard solids. Refrigerate and defat when cool (which apparently just means peeling the hardened chicken fat off the top).
The end. Seems pretty straightforward, and certainly straightforward enough for a first go at this. No mire poix. No simmering for 7 hours with veal bones (although that sounds yummy), topping up the water levels every so often. No herbs to worry about getting too strong or bitter while they steep. Minor salt, which is good, because store-bought stock is invariably too salty, even if you get the “low sodium” versions. Etc.
Inspired, I wandered over to the butcher this morning, hoping to score 4lbs of organic whole chicken legs. No dice. He did, however, have 4lbs of not-organic fresh chicken drumsticks. Close enough. He was even nice enough to chop them all in half for me, saving me the expense ($40) of buying a meat cleaver. My butcher rules (Glebe Meat Market, sadly not open on Sundays). 4lbs of chicken chunks cost $11.
I then wandered to the Glebe Emporium (kitchen store) and bought a skimmer (for the foam I probably won’t worry about) and a big strainer thingy. I already have a big stock-pot-alike (it’s wider than a classic stock pot, but there was no way I was gonna spend $186 on a stock pot in which to boil $11 worth of chicken bits), and, as already mentioned, my awesome butcher saved me from having to cut up my own chicken.
So I’m all set. We’ll see how it goes. 🙂
(Aside: I also got stuff to make homemade Cream of Tomato soup, which will be the first thing in which I use my chicken stock. I’ll write that up after I’ve made it as well, ‘cuz it really sounds awesome.)