Thursday, March 22, 2012

Trial and error

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about cooking and I know everyone has been on the edge of their seats with anticipation to see if I’ve made anything as dreadful as the roasted kale chips recently.  Thankfully, no.  Will, Frances and George are equally thankful (and for the record, yes, they looked bad, but they tasted great.  Marshall, Max and I couldn’t get enough of them).

I am somewhat reluctant to admit that I’m starting to love this new domestic enterprise of feeding the family.  I have yet to bake my own bread or roast my own red peppers (for the two tablespoons of soup you can garner from a dozen or so peppers), but I am taking on more food challenges and am finding the process (*deep breath*) relaxing.

My latest zen-like project?  Making my own chicken stock.  I know, I know; I just may have gone off the deep end.  But crockpot chicken stock after using an entire roast chicken’s meat for another recipe is about as easy as it gets.  And an added bonus?  It fits right in with my new simple lifestyle buzzword (are you tired of me using the term simple yet?  It’s okay to say yes; Will is considering banning the word and all of its derivatives from our house).  I used quite literally the entire bird, which I have never done before and I sit writing this post with nearly 8 cups of delicious chicken stock waiting to use for … something?  Please tell me I am not the only thirty-something-year-old who does not know what in the world to do with chicken stock.

As it turns out (after five minutes of internet research), chicken stock can be used in pretty much any recipe calling for chicken broth (although broth and stock are not exactly the same.  And there ends my total knowledge on broth vs. stock.  Please visit Google or another equally reliable cooking resource for a more comprehensive explanation).  Apparently, it is particularly good in recipes looking for a heartier flavor, like chicken noodle soup or casseroles and can be added to rice, risotto or other grains (couscous would be delicious, I imagine).

What it looks like during.  Don't worry, it cleans up nicely.

10 hours later

I think my first test run will be on an incredibly good chicken ‘n dumplings recipe that uses almost 48 ounces of chicken broth.  All four Homillers loved this dish (a small miracle), likely because is it chock full of nutritiously-void food (Grands biscuits and cream of celery soup – yum!).  The homemade stock has a much stronger flavor than store-bought broth, so I will probably substitute at least a cup of water for a cup of stock in the recipe:

Easy chicken n’ dumplings
46.5 ounces of chicken broth (32 ounce container + 14.5 ounce can)
3 cups shredded cooked chicken (about one whole chicken)
1 (10.75 ounce) can reduced-fat cream of celery soup
¼ tsp. poultry seasoning
1 (10.2 ounce) can refrigerated jumbo buttermilk biscuits (I used Pillsbury Grands)

1.      Stir together first 4 ingredients in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low; simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes
2.     Place biscuits on lightly floured surface.  Roll or pat each biscuit to 1/8-inch thickness; cut into ½-inch wide strips.
3.     Return broth mixture to a low boil over medium-high heat.  Drop biscuit strips, one at a time, into boiling broth.  Reduce heat to low; simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent dumplings from sticking.

From: Southern Living magazine
Makes about 4-6 servings

And just in case anyone else is interested in making crockpot stock, all I did was the following:

Crockpot chicken stock
Place all bones and any other unused part of the chicken into crockpot
Add any/all of the following, to taste:
-         Celery
-         Carrots
-         Onion
-         Salt
-         Pepper
-         Parsley
-         Thyme
-         Sage
-         Anything else that sounds good!

Add cold tap water up to about ½ inch from the top of the crockpot.

Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours.  Let cool.  Strain stock completely from bones and other ingredients.

Makes about 8 cups of stock.

I decided to freeze all of the stock this time around since none of my meals this week call for chicken broth/stock (I’m not sure how long homemade stock lasts in the refrigerator, but I would guess 3-4 days?) and because I was still in the, "holy cow, what do I do with all of this chicken stock?" moment.

So, now I close what is probably the world’s longest post on chicken stock, particularly from someone who hasn't a clue what she is talking about.  I’m foreseeing a new banned phrase from the household in the coming days.

Happy Thursday everyone!  I hope it is as beautiful where you are as it is here.

1 comment:

  1. Color me impressed, sister! I've long talked about making my own chicken stock but have never gotten around to it. And I know that the fine folks at Cook's Illustrated have expounded, probably at great length, about the differences between stock and broth and that I've read these explanations but I'm still woefully uninformed on the topic.

    The one tidbit that I do remember, though, is that they recommend freezing it in muffin tins in addition to the tried-and-true ice cube trays so you have two different portions readily available to defrost.

    And that's all I'm good for in the chicken stock/broth department. Thrilling, wasn't it?