Who else has been thinking that homemade chicken stock is just too big a production? Not me, not anymore. For a long while now, I've been making chicken stock one small batch at a time because, well, making stock should be No Big Deal. Until you taste it, that is – rich but delicate, thick as jelly, tasting like the real chicken it’s made with – that’s when you know for sure that homemade chicken stock is One Very Big Deal.
So really, am I alone? Who else keeps a big stockpot in a cupboard in the kitchen? Who else KNOWS how to make a big batch of chicken stock but just doesn’t get around to it?
These days, in my kitchen, the big stockpot stays put even as I make a small batch of chicken stock (or beef stock or vegetable stock) nearly every day, no effort, no big production. It is, frankly, No Big Deal – except that an abundance of rich, flavorful chicken stock on hand for soups, sauces and stews is One Very Big Deal.
Two things make all the difference.
THE RIGHT POT, SMALL & HEAVY This is my most-used Christmas present ever! It’s a heavy LeCreuset saucepan. It doesn’t need a home in a cupboard because it never leaves the stove! Now this pot isn’t a “stockpot” per se but it’s just the right size for a chicken carcass and the right weight to hold even heat. This means I can set the stove just below medium and walk away, confident the stock will soon be gently simmering away with minimal evaporation. A couple of hours later? Gorgeous stock.
FYI LeCreuset no longer makes my beloved 2.5 quart saucepan but this 2.75 quart saucepan is a close match. Do know, these are heavy pots, mine weighs more than 7 pounds. They’re pricey too, so look for one in your cupboard that will work, move it to the stovetop for a trial run.
MASON JARS When I make a big batch of stock in the stockpot, I feel compelled to carefully strain the stock to transfer in two-cup portions to labeled freezer bags. It takes a good 20 to 30 minutes. With a small batch of No-Big-Deal Chicken Stock, I strain the stock right into quart-size canning jars, then store in the fridge. So easy! It takes just a minute or two. And no, it doesn’t last as long as frozen stock but that’s okay, I go through it fast. UPDATE: Now I freeze the stock, right in the jars. Just be sure to leave a little headroom for expansion.
FYI I love these one-piece canning lids for mason jars, no more fiddling around with lids and ring except for their intended purpose, real canning.
NO-BIG-DEAL BEEF STOCK Any time there’s leftover bits of beef or beef bones, just drop them into the saucepan with an onion, a carrot and a rib of celery. Follow the same process. Beef has a lot more fat, you’ll want to discard the thick layer that accumulates on top of the stock – or feed it to the birds!
NO-BIG-DEAL VEGETABLE STOCK Coming soon to A Veggie Venture!
NO-BIG-DEAL CHICKEN STOCK RECIPE
Time to table: 24 hours
Makes 4 cups
- 1 rotisserie chicken carcass (wings, bones, skin, back plus juices from the container)
- Water to cover
Place carcass in a small heavy saucepan and cover with water. Cover the saucepan and bring to a boil. Adjust heat to maintain a slow simmer, let gently simmer for about 2 hours.
Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Place a small wire-mesh strainer into a funnel, place the funnel in a quart-size canning jar. Pour the stock through the strainer-funnel combination. Discard the bones and solids.
Refrigerate the stock. A thin layer of chicken fat will form on the top, discard this if you like. Use within a week.
No-Big-Deal Chicken Stock
So no more of that watery, salty stuff from cans and cubes, boxes and powders, okay? Choose Homemade Chicken Stock, because really, it’s just No-Big-Deal to make.
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