A Good Basic Chicken Stock Recipe
A good basic chicken stock recipe
You can but chicken stock, or chicken cubes, but anything you make with these will always be a bit inferior to something made with a good homemade chicken stock. One of the reasons why a good restaurant makes food that you might find better than yours is the use of good stocks in their cooking (and also probably more butter than you'd ever use!). Fortunately, stocks are a cinch to make, and will freeze really well. A great thing to do is to make an occasional big batch of stock up, and freeze that stock in zip lock bags in the kind of portions you think that you would use in the future.
Having a good stock in the freezer will allow you to make heavenly soups with the best of summer produce in just a few minutes of after work cooking.
A lot of vegetable soups can be made by simply sautéing some onions in butter, and then adding the main soup vegetable, sautéing for another couple of minutes, adding enough stock to cover, simmering until tender, pureeing, and adding an optional enrichment of cream. There aren't too many vegetables that won't taste great in a soup such as this, and you can add whatever complimentary spices or herbs that you think will compliment the taste of the vegetable.
Good basic chicken stock
These are general guidelines, because a stock is a pretty general thing to make, and you can't go too far wrong if you stick to the basic idea.
- Chicken bones, often sold cheaply as chicken backs and necks, with some meat clinging to the bones
- Enough water to just barely cover the bones. Use lots of bones, and don't dilute with too much water. You can always add more water later, but using too much at the start will result in a thin and watery tasting stock.
- Root vegetables: a carrot or two, roughly chopped, an onion or two also roughly chopped, and a rib or two of celery…also roughly chopped.
- 1 bay leaf, and about ½ tsp of dried thyme, plus a few whole peppercorns
- Add enough cold water to barely cover the bones and vegetables, hold off on adding the herbs for a minute.
- Very slowly bring the stock up to a simmer. One of the secrets to a good stock is to use very cold water to start, and heat the stock up to a gentle simmer very slowly. This will draw the most flavor out of the bones. Additionally, you want to simmer this, never boil it. Boiling can result in a greasy and unpalatable stock.
- As the stock is coming to a gentle simmer, skim off the "scum" that rises to the surface. This bubbly stuff is a result of any impurities on either the bones or vegetables, and you should try to get it out of the stock. It's not hard to do, and will make for a better stock. Don't worry about it too much, just get as much out as you can.
- Once you have "descummed" add your herbs and peppercorns. You could add them earlier, but you tend to end up removing them as you take out the scummy stuff.
- Once the stock is simmering, let it cook unattended for about an hour and a half; and you're done!
- Strain the stock from the solids and refrigerate. Once the stock is cold, you will be able to remove the solid fat that will have come to the surface. At this point the stock can be used, or portioned and frozen for future usage.
Having a good stock on hand will simplify your life, and make you a better cook.
With ready to use stock on hand, great summer soups are only minutes away!
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