Friday, September 16, 2011

Chicken Stock for the Soul

Homemade chicken stock...such a simple feat, one would think. But like most of my cooking projects, I begin like I only have one chance to get it right. So I scour multiple trusty cookbooks and websites to see all the variations and methods; flavors and techniques (type A personality, or thorough decide).  And then I usually end up with a combination of ideas from each; of which follows the birth of a Signature Dish.

Here in Italy, we have a beloved little mom&pop restuarant right down the street from the base where we live. Chris and I go there once or twice a month for a margherita pizza and a rotisserie chicken. I don't know how they season their chicken (polli), but we think it's quite magical. I don't know why it didn't occur to me until recently to use the leftover meat and bones to make a stock. I mean, I cook nearly everything in broth since the tap water here is less than stellar. And it would support my goal of having a "no-waste" kitchen!

Here's what I did: (and note, this makes a thick stock, which I like because then if I want a lighter broth I can thin it out with water, or leave it as is for something hearty like chicken chili!)

Chicken Stock for the Soul

  • Bones (with or without meat) from small cooked rotisserie chicken
  • 1 large onion, cut into chunks (doesn't even need to be peeled!)
  • 1 fennel bulb (my first time using fennel)
  • 2 celery stalks, with leaves
  • 3 large carrots, peeled
  • 3 garlic cloves (again, can leave peel on)
  • 8 parsley sprigs
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • a couple shakes of dried thyme
  • 8 cups water
  • 1-2 tsp fresh lemon juice (trust me!)
  • garlic powder (optional)

1. Add chicken bones and onion to pot (no oil needed). Stir around for a few minutes to release flavor and allowing onions to get some color.
2. Add water  and bring to a boil. (I used roughly 7-8 cups, but you could use more if desired)
3. Once boiling, add remainder of ingredients (except lemon juice & garlic powder). Reduce heat & simmer, partly covered, for an hour and 15 mins.
4. When finished, remove from heat and squeeze in 1 or 2 tsp of fresh lemon juice
*I actually ended up adding a few shakes of garlic powder when done also.

Of course this is a very versatile, flexible recipe. However, I found this combo of flavors to be just delightful :) I plan to freeze some, and use the rest for chicken chili and to cook couscous.

I also pureed most of the vegetables (after removing skins, peels and leaves) and made  DELICIOUS vegetable soup. Yum?

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