Monday, September 17, 2012
Making Chicken Stock
I have been making my own stocks and broths for years and years now. It's so easy, and if you cook a lot then saving vegetable scraps and bones is not hard, in fact you will always have more than you can use most of the time...like now!
Summer is not usually the time to put on a big pot of stock, which is why I'm a bit behind.... Until I started making it in my pressure cooker I did it the old fashioned way, in a huge 12qt stock pot, overnight, on my stove top! (8 hrs minimum) In a pressure cooker it can take as little as 30 minutes for vegetable and fish stocks, or as 1 1/2 hr - 2 hrs for meat stocks. Really the biggest drag is when the stock is finished! Straining, separating, storing.....I know, I know, high quality problem eh?
Straining is not hard, separating is not hard, storing is not hard, if I only had a couple of quarts to deal with! But I've got to use my big guy...the 10qt PC and it's heavy filled to the brim with bones, veg and water! OK, enough whining! Making stock couldn't be easier and so worth getting into the habit if you want to make your own soups, sauces, heck, making grains like rice, farro, even steel cuts oats, or lentils and beans, with stock is so much tastier and nutritious why not use the free bones and veg scraps otherwise ending up in you trash? You'll soon find out that purchasing stock or broth is money you can save (and time!)
I find that homemade stock is not the type of cooking you need to "perfect". Just throw a bunch of stuff in a pot, bring it to a boil, simmer it forever (or just a couple of hours in the PC), strain it, cool it, freeze it, or use it right away. Just know that the more bones and veg you use, and the less water the richer the stock. Personally I like to use as many bones and veg scraps as possible because you can always thin out a rich stock using water, but making thin stock richer is time consuming (it just requires extra cooking, and who wants "extra cooking"?)
Ok, enough...on with making stock.
Put a bunch of bones and veg scraps in a big pot. Bring to a boil (if you cover the pot it will come to a boil quicker!). If making the traditional way now would be the time to "skim" off the crud that rises to the top with a fine strainer....but it's not a big deal, really. Turn the heat down and cook it as long as you want to, or have time for. (2-8 hrs)
Let it cool enough to handle. If you are like me then it's about 5 minutes! If you are not comfortable handling 8 qts of scalding hot stock, then wait a couple of hours! Use tongs or a large slotted spoon to scoop out the big bones so you can then pour the stock through a towel lined strainer into a container large enough to hold it all. This may be another large stock pot, or large plastic commercial container. Refrigerate. You'll notice the fat that rises to the top will harden in the cold fridge so you can simply scoop it off and throw it out (or use it in your chicken pate like me!) Seperate it into smaller usable servings, 1 c. 2 c. 1 qt, etc., and freezer until ready to use.
I'll use a portion right away, or keep 2 c - 1 qt. in the fridge until I'm ready, or up to only 3-4 days.
In the PC
Fill PC with bones and veg scraps. Lock lid, bring pressure to high. Turn down the heat, continue to cook for up to 2-3 hours (as little as 20 min). Let the pressure come down naturally. Remove large bones, pour through towel lined strainer. Cool, refrigerate, separate, freeze or use right away.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, like anything, if you get into the habit, making stock regularly is really effortless and the pay off is big in so many ways. It's probably the healthiest habit I have! (ok, it's in the top 10!)