Monday, September 28, 2009

Homemade Chicken Stock

A long time ago, I remember reading a blurb in Glamour magazine about tips for a "Babe on a Budget", and for some reason that phrase stuck in my head. I guess I liked the idea of a modern, chic woman who wasn't afraid to admit that she didn't have all the money in the world, so wanted to find ways to still strut down the Fabulous Lane without emptying her checking account. So whenever I find myself doing something to save money, or talking about being cheap, it always pops back in and I find myself mentally, and sometimes out loud, referring to myself as that Babe on a Budget.

Combine that sentiment with my obsession with th
e foodie culture over the last few years, hearing Ina Garten over and over refer to using homemade chicken stock and reading on a few blogs about how easy it is to make - I became intrigued. I like to use chicken stock for a lot of things - certain pasta dishes like risotto - but the thing is, it's not cheap. Usually for my standard risotto recipes I have to buy two containers of it, which can add up to $10+. That considerably ups the ante on how much the whole meal is costing, especially considering that oftentimes the idea to cook at home is born from a desire to save a few bucks. So last fall when I started roasting chickens regularly, it seemed like a total waste to just throw away the carcass when I knew that something else could be done with it.

I did a little research on recipes and methods, and the basic conclusion that I came to was this - throw the carcass into the biggest pot you have, along with a loosely chopped onion, a few carrots cut into huge chunks, whatever herbs you've got on hand (parsley, thyme, rosemary, etc), a lot of salt and pepper, and then fill the pot the rest of the way with water. Bring it to a boil on your stove and let it hang out at a slow boil for 4-5 hours. It'll reduce down considerably. Then filter out all of the chicken and veggies, and you're left with the stock! Ladle it into whatever containers (portion it into quart-sized Ziploc tuperware thingys), and throw them into the freezer.


So if you're like me, you've got enough chicken stock at this point to last you for a couple of months, at least. I've heard some people say that they don't think that this is worth it for the effort, but to me it totally is. I've found it to be super easy and cheap - if you've already got the carcass from a roasted chicken, all you have to do is buy an onion, a few carrots and maybe a bunch of parsley. Yeah, it's time consuming - but as long as your schedule allows you to carve out an afternoon while you're already at home doing other things, you've got it covered!

Plus, in addition to the money saving benefits that I've already touted, let's not forget the reason why Ina and so many others all but insist on using homemade stock in their recipes - it tastes better. Now, not necessarily in a side-by-side taste test of yours and the grocery store's. The grocery store's will have a lot more sodium, so therefore will perform better just by itself, but trust me, once you start cooking with your own stock there will be no going back. Yours will have a depth of flavor and layers that add a homey quality to your dishes that you just won't get with the pre-made stuff. (Although you might want to up the salt quantity in whatever dish you are making, just to adjust for that factor.)

And, cooking the stock will make your apartment smell good for days. Trust me...


Anonymous Hungry Dog said...

I totally agree. It takes some time but practically no effort, and it definitely saves money. I like to add a bay leaf or two and whole peppercorns.

5:21 PM  
Anonymous Erin said...

Ooh! I'll have to remember to do the bay leaf next time. :)

12:11 PM  
Anonymous Karine said...

I made chicken stock a couple of months ago that was not a success... since then, I don't want to make some again. Which is sad because I really think making your own chicken stock is worth the effort! I am glad you are happy to have made some :)

5:40 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home