Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Week-day-lazy-day Chicken Stock

Before I started writing this post, I paused to look up the difference between stock and broth and found out there really isn't one. Good.  I love dictionaries, and although I HATE e-books and reading online, the online dictionary does prevent one from browsing and spending all afternoon looking at words and never getting to the one word you actually came for.

I hesitated at first to call this a recipe for chicken stock because "stock" sounds professional and complicated, and this method is anything but that.

This whole process is slow and easy and lazy from start to finish.

Sunday morning,  I made a coffee cake that required cooking at 400F. Once the cake was in the oven, I got a chicken ready for roasting.  Dried it off well, rubbed it all over with kosher salt, cut an orange in half and nuked it for thirty seconds or so and stuck it up the chicken's bum along with some herbs and garlic cloves. (I was out of lemons on Sunday, so I used half an orange.)  Laid the chicky down in a cast iron pan and popped her in the oven for an hour while I finished making breakfast, ate breakfast, including some of that cake, and lazed around with the family for a while.  After an hour, I checked for doneness, and let the chicken rest on a rack for a bit. I probably left my chicken out longer than the salmonella Stasi would like, but I'm still here. 

Word, bird.

Once the chicken was cool I broke it down into it's chickeny components- breasts, legs, thighs, etc., separated the meat from the bones and refrigerated everything separately.

I made a quick pan sauce with the scrapings in the cast-iron pan and some wine and refrigerated that right away.  That night I heated up the chicken, finished off the sauce, and served it all with mashed potaoes and apples (YUM!) and baby peas. Everyone was happy and nobody broke a sweat.

I had planned to make the stock the traditional way that afternoon, but never got around to it, so Tuesday- TUESDAY!- morning, I whacked up some baby carrots (how lazy is that?) and an onion and tossed them in the crock pot with the chicken carcass, poured in enough water to cover everything, put it on low, went to work and texted hubby to please turn it off when he got home.  Once I got home, the broth had cooled enough for me to strain it into jars, leaving plenty of room for freezing, and put some of  them in the fridge and some in the freezer. To be safe, I should have had Kevin put the crock part of the crock pot on ice till I got home, but he has Mimie to deal with after work and we all apparently have cast-iron constitutions.  Comes from playing in dirt while you're young. Still, safety first, don't let your chicken or your broth sit around at room temperature. You should refrigerate them as quickly as possible to prevent food-borne illness.  The best way to chill your stock, the method they teach you in culinary school, is to fill your sink with cold water and ice and place the stock pot in that. The book "Professional Cooking" by Wayne Gisslen has step-by-step illustrations for making stock the "real" way and cooling it down the safe way. Amazon has it.

For more on cavalier attitudes towards the nastier side of cooking, see the inimitable Harold McGee's column on the subject in the New York Times here.   For more on roasting the perfect chicken, see Michael Ruhlman here. I owe my lack of chicken-roasting trepidation to Mr. Ruhlman, and my technique, too.  You really can't go wrong with Ruhlman.

Anyway, roast a chicken and make stock with the carcass.  It's easy and it'll save you money and keep free from all those nasty additives in store-bought broth.

Peace out.