The more I cook, the more I truly believe good quality ingredients are the key to good quality food.
I mean…it sounds so simple, right? You put in good ingredients and you get good food. Even with all that simplicity, it is hard to remember. Well…it is for me, at least.
Now, I’m no Ina Garten (darnit!), meaning there are definitely several shortcuts I take in my kitchen. But, I have come to learn these shortcuts usually come at a price.
For example, I know if I use canned chicken broth, I will not get as much flavor than if I use homemade chicken stock. This rule, I have found, applies to many things, like homemade aiolis versus preservative-filled, store-bought mayonnaise, homemade tomato sauce versus sauce from a jar, homemade eggnog versus what you’d buy in a carton, etc. This list, fortunately and unfortunately, can go on and on.
The good news? If you put in the effort, you get a superior tasting result. The bad news? You do have to put in some effort. Sorry.
Believe it or not, making chicken stock is actually very simple. Basically, you throw all the ingredients in a large pot, cook for a bit and then strain. All you gotta do is do it. And, trust me, it is worth it. The depth of flavor, the fresh ingredients and the satisfaction of making the base to your meal will all be there when you’re done. I promise.
I’ve been making my own chicken stock for a few years now. Do I ever buy the canned stuff? Of course. But I know what I’m missing out on if I do. So, this week, when we had some extra vegetables left over from our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), I knew exactly how to make use of them. That is another beauty of making chicken stock: you don’t waste extra carrots, celery, onion or chicken. You just throw ’em in the pot.
Making Chicken Stock
1 5-lb. roasting chicken, cleaned and innards removed
3 1/2 quarts water (just enough to cover chicken)
2 large yellow onions, cleaned, unpeeled and quartered
4 carrots, unpeeled and halved
3 celery stalks with leaves, cut into thirds
6-8 sprigs fresh parsley
10-12 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 garlic bulb, unpeeled and cut in half
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. whole peppercorns
1 turnip, unpeeled and halved
2 bay leaves
Place the chicken and vegetables in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add just enough water to mostly cover the chicken. Adding too much water will dilute the flavor of the final stock. Add the thyme, parsley, kosher salt, peppercorns and bay leaves and allow to slowly come to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 1-hour to 1 1/2-hours, until chicken is fully cooked.
Carefully remove the chicken and allow to cool. Once cooled, the chicken can be de-boned and shredded for other use.
Carefully strain the stock using a strainer over another large pot or bowl to catch the liquid. Season with additional kosher salt and/or ground black pepper to taste. Discard all the strained vegetable solids. Stock can be used immediately or stored in an air-tight container for up to one week in the refrigerator or longer if frozen.