It's something that everyone should know how to do, but few actually take the time to actually do it. I know I am more than likely to open a can or two when needed, as are most people. And why not, its fast, its convenient, and for the most part, canned stock is acceptable.
However, making your own stock (whether chicken, beef, or vegetable) is highly rewarding, not only emotionally, but it adds a fantastic depth of flavor to your cooking.
Peta, of the blog Peta Eats, was our lovely hostess for the Daring Cook’s September 2011 challenge, “Stock to Soup to Consommé”. We were taught the meaning between the three dishes, how to make a crystal clear Consommé if we so chose to do so, and encouraged to share our own delicious soup recipes!
I chose to use my stock as the basis for one of my absolute favorite meals, Chicken and Noodles with Mashed Potatoes. Have you tried it yet? A thickened chicken and noodle soup served over creamy mashed potatoes - its hearty, warm, and comforting, like a big firm hug from your favorite person. We were also challenged to make a beautiful garlic herb brioche bread, that was so easy to prepared (as long as you let the mixer do the work, this dough is sticky!), and tasted wonderful! It accompanied our soup perfectly!
Making stock from scratch requires another step that people tend to shy away from - cutting up a chicken. I think after years of watching master chefs beautifully break down a chicken as if they were cutting a piece of bread, we all tend to get a little intimidated. Have you seen Jacque Pepin? This video blows me away every time I see it. But in truth, its not that hard. Don't worry about getting 8 beautiful and perfect pieces. Let the chicken be your guide, let your knife find its own way, and the parts will separate at the joints easily.
Basic Chicken Stock (Martha Stewart’s Cooking School)
1 whole chicken, cut into 8 parts
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 1" pieces
2 medium celery stalks, chopped into 1" pieces
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped into 1" pieces
3 sprigs parsley
2 sprigs thyme
1 dried bay leaf
3/4 tsp black peppercorns
7 or 8 cups of cold water
Cut up your chicken:
First remove the legs and wings. Place the chicken breast side up and gently pull the leg out away from the body, extending the joint.
Slice through the skin between the breast and thigh.
Pull the leg outward until the thighbone pops out of the socket.
To separate the drumstick from the thigh, turn the leg skin side down and cut along the white fat line to separate the thigh from the drumstick.
Cut along the backbone and around the ball and socket, pulling the leg away to detach. Repeat on remaining side.
Lay the breast on its side and pull the wing out until the joint is exposed and cut between the joint and the breast. Repeat on the other side.
If you want to separate the wingtips, cut on the joint.
To separate the breast from the back, lift the breast up and slice between the rib cage and shoulder joints (this is the step I often have the most trouble with, but keep hacking away, you’ll get it!)
To split the breasts, place the breasts skin side down. Split the wishbone in half with the heel of the knife and then slice along the breastbone. Then crack it open with your hands.
Make the Stock:
Place all the chicken parts in a large stockpot.
Add the vegetables on top.
Place the thyme, parsley, peppercorns, and bay leaf on top.
Add enough COLD water to just cover everything.
Bring to a boil, and then bring down to a gentle simmer.
Skim off any foam as necessary.
Allow to simmer until the chicken is done (7-10 minutes for breasts and 10-15 minutes for thighs and legs).
Remove the chicken and allow to cool (let the stock and veggies simmer away).
When the meat is cool enough to handle, remove the skin, and shred the meat. Toss the skin, cover and refrigerate the meat, and return the bones back to the stock.
Simmer the stock for one hour.
If you need to add more water to the pot, add HOT (but not boiling) water until all the chicken and vegetables are covered again.
Strain the broth through a fine sieve and discard any solids.
Skim off any fat that forms on top. (I like to make my broth ahead of time. I refrigerate the broth until needed, and skim off any fat that turns to a solid).
Your broth is now complete!! You can now add the broth back to a clean pot to use to make soup, or you can portion out your broth into servings and freeze. I like to put mine in the fridge for a while first. Any fats that are in the stock will solidify and rise to the top, making it very easy to skim it off.
Braided Herbed Brioche (total time, about 3.5 hours)
2 cups flour
2 tsp yeast
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk, warm
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp parsley, chopped
1 tsp dried italian seasoning
1 garlic clove, minced super fine
Whisk together the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt.
In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the warm milk, butter, dried italian seasonings, and 2 of the eggs.
Slowly mix this into the flour mixture until incorporated.
Knead the dough until its super smooth and comes away from the side of the bowl. This means that you really need to do this bread with a mixer - its just way too sticky and messy to do by hand, trust me!
Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and allow to rise until doubled, about an hour.
Chop your parsley, thyme, and garlic.
Punch down the dough and turn out onto a well floured surface. The dough is going to seem still too sticky to work with, but flour your hands really well and it will be ok.
Gently flatten and pull the dough out with your hands to get a rectangle. Don't be tempted to use a rolling pin, you'll just end up with a mess. Pretend you are in Italy making a pizza crust and you will do just fine. :)
Press the parsley, thyme, and garlic into the surface of the dough.
Roll the dough up like a jelly roll (the long ways) so that you get a long cylindar.
Place the dough onto a baking sheet and twist it around itself to form a rope.
Cover with saran wrap and a kitchen towel and allow to rise until doubled, about another hour.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Whisk your remaining egg and, using a pastry brush, glaze the bread.
Bake at 400 degrees for ten minutes.
Turn the oven temperature down to 350 and bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
Cool and enjoy!