Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Chicken/Turkey Stock

Keep the ingredients of your stock simple: celery, carrots, garlic,
thyme, no salt, peppercorns and chicken bones. 

During high school, I worked as a busboy in a restaurant. Each night before closing, the cooks would fill a large stockpot with vegetables and leftover bones. It took two people to heft it up to the burner where it simmered all night to make a rich broth for the following day’s soup menu. That “slow and long simmer” is the key to a great stock.

  • 3 to 3 1/2 pound chicken cut up, or chicken pieces or a combination of chicken/turkey pieces or carcasses
  • 2 unpeeled carrots, washed and cut into large chunks
  • 3-4 stalks celery, washed and roughly cut
  • 1 large yellow onion, roughly cut, include the skins
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, smashed, skins included
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme flakes
  • 2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 10 cups water
  • optional: the end of a lemon, rind and all

Prepare the ingredients during the day and refrigerate. Before going to bed, place the pot on the range and bring to a boil and then turn to low and cover making sure it just simmers and does not boil. Let it simmer all night. (This works best on an electric stove.) In the morning, when cool enough to handle, scoop into a colander over a large bowl or pot. Then strain through a sieve. If desired, squeeze the vegetables and meat through a strainer to get the “juice.” If your broth doesn’t seem strong enough, add one can of chicken broth or simmer until reduced a bit. Your strained stock is now ready for soup.

Chicken feet make great stock, but you must simmer
for a minimum of six hours.

If you can add two turkey wings to the chicken pieces to your stock pot, that makes the best broth, I think. And I SERIOUSLY recommend it.

For each pound of poultry, plan about 3 but no more than four, cups of water. You just want to cover the poultry and vegetables with water. 

Onionskins will turn the broth a rich golden color.

Save the bones of rotisserie chickens you purchase from the deli. Place in a Ziploc bag and freeze until ready to use.

Look for poultry on sale and freeze until ready to use. A good market will actually sell chicken or turkey carcasses. Simply add some chicken or turkey pieces to it. Cartilage, such as backs and necks, makes good stock as does chicken feet. Cut through large bones if possible.

Never add rosemary to your stock; it will turn it bitter. Add parsley to your SOUP, not your stock. 

A good stock when refrigerated will gel. Freeze stock in 3-4 cup freezer containers for later use.

A slow simmer will keep the broth golden and clear. If it’s allowed to boil, the stock will be cloudy. 

My favorite way to prepare broth is the simplest: To about six cups of stock, I add several pieces of lemon zest (use a vegetable peeler), and a few pinches of crushed red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer (not a boil). Before serving, sprinkle with dried dill. This is the nectar of the gods and perfect for sipping while watching the snow outside.