Sunday, January 8, 2012


Chicken stock- My favorite chicken stock is made from a roasted chicken rather than boiled chicken.  Boiling the chicken makes a more generic, multi-use stock, but roasted stock is more flavorful as far as I am concerned.
  Start, unsurprisingly, with a chicken.  Make sure you take the guts out, since they are generally stuck in a plastic or paper bag inside the carcass.  If you like organs, use the ones you like by dropping them into the dutch oven with the chicken when you start to cook.
  Cut a large onion into slices about ½ inch thick.  Break up one of the center slices and break it apart, spreading it around the bottom of a well-oiled dutch oven.  Set the chicken on top of it.  It should be a small enough chicken to fit under the lid, say two pounds or so for my pot.  Now cut up a large bell pepper, cleaning out the seeds and stemming it, cutting it so you can take out the white webs inside without breaking up the outside of the pepper, then cut it, too, into rings.  Distribute the rings of pepper and the remaining rings of onions onto and around the chicken.  Add two sticks of celery, about four inches or so long each.  Drop in two or three whole toes of garlic and a half dozen black peppercorns.  Depending on what you plan to do with the stock, you might add other spices— oregano, basil, thyme, parley, cilantro, etc.  If you want a fairly generic stock, just use the basic ingredients.  Don’t salt your stock, since salt can always be added later and can’t be extracted.
   Put the whole thing in the oven and cook at 375 for about 45 minutes.  Then cook it uncovered until the skin is golden and the legs are pulling the skin apart where they join the body.  Make sure the pot always keeps at least a bit of water in the bottom to keep things from scorching.  One the chicken is cooked through and through and is tender, take it out of the pot and throw it away.  Or eat it.  Or let it cool them pluck all the meat from the bones to use in soups, dumplings, chicken salad, or whatever.  Fill the dutch oven most of the way with water and bring to a boil on the range top.  Turn off and let stand until cooled, then pour it through a wide strainer to get the big chunks of vegetable out and can up or freeze or use the stock.  Try to fish out those peppercorns too as you drain it. If you want lowfat stock, put it in the refrigerator in a glas jar and when it has gotten cold, remove the waxy fat from the top.  I prefer to use it fat and all.
  The waste product from this process is a chicken carcass plucked clean.  I like to take that carcass and put it in a pressure cooker with water about halfway covering it.  I cook it at high pressure for almost an hour, then cool the pot and check to make sure the bones are cooked close to mush.  If they are still holding together, cook a while longer.  Once you have the bones reduced to harmless, cut and pull the carcass apart and add rice and water to the cooker, then cover and cook as if you were preparing rice normally.  Once it is all cooked together it makes very good dog food and saves me from buying cans.  This dogfood carries the Monkey and Heifer seal of approval.

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