Monday, August 20, 2012

Whole Chicken Carcasses = Homemade Chicken Stock

In addition to belonging to a CSA through Waterpenny Farm, we buy our meat through  PolyFace, a farm that raises animals using sustainable farming practices.  It is quite an adventure to get our meat every three weeks and create enough freezer space to be able to hold everything, but I'll save that story for another day.  

When you buy PolyFace chicken, you get a whole chicken because they don't butcher it into breasts, thighs and legs.  We get to do that (or rather my husband does because I am absolutely terrible at it).  So what we do is usually defrost a whole chicken when we want to use the meat for dinner, cut it into pieces, cook what we need, store the rest and then we are left with the chicken cavity.  I started to find these chicken cavity carcasses back in my freezer, wrapped in foil.  I guess my "at home butcher" wanted to reuse these and was relying on me to figure it out.  So I did.  Whole Chicken Carcasses = Homemade Chicken Stock.

Now I make homemade chicken stock once every month or so.  It is relatively easy to make but it does take a while *and* it sort of makes your whole house stink like chicken broth.  Oh well, not everything can be glamorous.  Here's how you do it:

 1) Defrost your chicken cavity (or chicken pieces if you have leftovers you don't want to use to cook with, but definitely use pieces with bones!) and throw it in a big pot.  I usually use 4-5 chicken carcasses.  Add water to fill the pot almost to the top.

Raw chicken, neck and all but no giblets
  2) Bring the water with the chicken carcasses to a boil, skimming off the clotted blood (which is foamy and disgusting).

3) Once the water reaches a full boil, lower the heat immediately to a simmer (so that little bubbles are just breaking the surface).  

4) Add some vegetables to flavor the broth.  I usually use whatever I have on hand, so for this batch, I used some onions, zucchini, squash, and thyme.  Just use 5 or so pieces.  Don't use tomatoes though!

Vegetables in the broth adds more flavor
5) Simmer the chicken stock with the vegetables for 5-6 hours.  The aroma of chicken will fill your house - so much so, that you won't need to buy Yankee Candles as you have created your own aroma - Chicken Soup.  You can thank me later.

What's that perfume you are wearing?  Oh, that?  That's Eau de Chic
 6) Let the stock cool, remove the larger chicken pieces, and skim the fat off the top if you want.  This is the part that makes my dog come down to the kitchen and wait near the stove for me to miss the trash can.  I do every time - special treat for Webster!  Be careful of those bones though, dogs can't have chicken bones. 

7) Strain the chicken broth to remove vegetables and small chicken pieces.  I use a regular pasta strainer.

Lookin' good
 8) Now for the part that is a straight up pain.  I pour the chicken broth into little baggies and freeze.  I use to use big gallon bags, but I don't need that much chicken broth for my recipes so now I use the little bags.  You can lay them on a cookie sheet to keep them flat and once they are frozen, they are easy to store up right.

Baggies make it easy to store and use in recipes
And that's it!  Now you have your own, homemade chicken broth to use in recipes and you got rid of all those chicken carcasses wrapped in aluminum foil in your freezer.  Oh wait, I probably was the only one with that problem...  well anyway, now you can make some homemade soup with your chicken stock!

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