This weekend I took some time to make homemade chicken stock which is one of my favorite cooking tricks. Stock is so easy to make at home, and can be made for practically nothing with a little planning. Today I’m happy to share my strategy for always having homemade stock on hand.
My first trick is that I keep a large container in my freezer and throw vegetable scraps in it. The root end/skins of onions, ends of celery, little nubs of garlic, herb stems, etc – all go into this container. And when it’s full – I use it to make stock. When it’s full, it looks like this:
Seriously, stock made out of stuff you would have thrown away? Genius! I just recently discovered this through an article on Organic Gardening and it’s my new favorite trick. So thrifty! 🙂 Once the container is full, just throw all the ingredients into a large stock pot.
You can totally make this stock vegetarian just using the saved-up scraps, but I like to add in some chicken to make chicken stock – and you get poached chicken out of the deal! 🙂 Alternatively, you could just add chicken bones/carcass (or any other leftover bones, like from a Thanksgiving turkey) and you would still get delicious stock, just not the bonus of the poached chicken!
Once you add the chicken to the pot, I like to add a handful of black peppercorns and some sliced lemon, along with enough water to cover the ingredients in the pot. The amount of water you add is the amount of stock you will get, and I usually get about 12 cups from this process.
Place the pot over high heat, covered, until the water comes to a boil. Note that if you start with frozen vegetable bits, it will take a little longer to boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce it to medium-low and let it simmer for an hour. After an hour has passed, remove the chicken to a cutting board (I use tongs) and allow to cool. Once cool, you can pull the meat from the bones and shred or chop the meat for use in a variety of dishes (soup, pasta, enchiladas, salads – the possibilities are really endless). I like to split the poached chicken up into smaller containers and place them in the freezer so I always have chicken on hand and ready to use in meals.
Next, strain the stock through a sieve into a container. I usually have to do this a few times as the stock won’t all fit into one container! 🙂
Discard the odds and ends from the stock, which are now thoroughly used up! 🙂 Split up your stock into containers for storage. I found these great plastic (BPA-free!) Ball freezer-safe storage jars at my grocery store so I used them to freeze about half of the stock.
I saved the rest of the stock and the chicken for use in meals this week – I’m thinking soup!