On the recent post about fava beans that included a killer recipe for Meyer lemon risotto to which I added the emeralds of spring that are favas, I received a comment about the recipes call for chicken stock (or low-sodium chicken broth). The comment: "Low sodium chicken broth? Ouch!" I have to agree. Now I wish I could say I always have containers of homemade chicken stock in my freezer, but at times I find myself adding that carton of chicken stock to my shopping list. It can be a perfectly acceptable substitute, especially if you boil it down for a few minutes to concentrate its flavors before using. But still, I always feel like such a slacker doing it.
Which of course got me in the mood to make more chicken stock, since I used my last container in the above mentioned risotto. Stock is something I love making. The whole process of taking a big pot of water, throwing in a few choice ingredients, and ending up with this rich, flavorful broth that makes everything taste better is so satisfying. The house ends up with that chicken noodle soup smell that is one of the definitions of comfort, and even in summer when I am less apt to want to spend a few hours tending the stove, it still feels good! Especially when I can escape outside to the garden while the stock bubbles away.
The final point is for those of you who say, "oh, it's just too much trouble, it takes so long, blah, blah, blah...", get a grip, get your asses into the kitchen, and grab that stockpot, because dammit, it is SO worth the minimal effort expended. The recipe I use is from an episode of Alton Brown's Good Eats show on Food TV. This is super easy, and makes plenty of incredibly savory, clear stock.
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
4 pounds chicken carcasses, including necks and backs (I use one whole four pound chicken for a more intense flavor)
1 large onion, quartered
4 carrots, peeled and cut in 1/2
4 ribs celery, cut in 1/2
1 leek, white part only, cut in 1/2 lengthwise
10 sprigs fresh thyme
10 sprigs fresh parsley with stems
2 bay leaves
8 to 10 peppercorns
2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
2 gallons cold water
Place chicken, vegetables, and herbs and spices in 12-quart stockpot. Set opened steamer basket directly on ingredients in pot and pour over water. Cook on high heat until you begin to see bubbles break through the surface of the liquid. Turn heat down to medium low so that stock maintains low, gentle simmer. Skim the scum from the stock with a spoon or fine mesh strainer every 10 to 15 minutes for the first hour of cooking and twice each hour for the next 2 hours. Add hot water as needed to keep bones and vegetables submerged. Simmer uncovered for 6 to 8 hours. Strain stock through a fine mesh strainer into another large stockpot or heatproof container discarding the solids. Cool immediately in large cooler of ice or a sink full of ice water to below 40 degrees. Place in refrigerator overnight. Remove solidified fat from surface of liquid and store in container with lid in refrigerator for 2 to 3 days or in freezer for up to 3 months. Prior to use, bring to boil for 2 minutes. Use as a base for soups and sauces.