Homemade Chicken Stock : Your cure for the Bleak Midwinter

Just in case you were wondering, there’s a reason my beautiful city, my Emerald City, has another nickname – Rain City. You’ve seen it in every movie/TV show/music video set in Seattle: dour Seattlites stuck under looming black umbrellas, huddling from the torrential downpour gushing forth from Pacific Skies all to a morose Death Cab for Cutie soundtrack.

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Typical.

The truth is a bit different. Our northern latitude means that the winter solstice typically results in about six hours of gloomy sunlight a day from about the time you settle into work to the time you leave the office for the day. And, while the “cats and dogs” style raining certainly happens (it delayed the 49s v Seahawks playoff game, for crying out loud) it’s much more typical to have a grey, wet, drizzly fog all day that extends into a full week, punctuated by flood inducing downpours that cause even the most stalwart Northface-sporting, coffee-swilling Seattlite to reach for the umbrella.

Basically winter in the Northwest is a lot like this, but mostly without the snow.

But hey, WE WON THE SUPERBOWL. And this is how we celebrate:

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Woah, 12th Man.

There’s absolutely no way to grasp the scale of this event. There were over 750,000 people there – that’s like the ENTIRE population of Seattle showed up – and in addition every person that fits into CenturyLink Field TWICE OVER.

So I think I’ll be telling my kids about that.

That win was definitely that high point of a tough post-Christmas blues winter. Most of my afternoons were spent nursing a sinus infection and half-heartedly listening to The Smiths, waiting for a sunbreak and popping Vitamin D like candy. And, really, nothing pairs better with headcolds, general malaise, and ennui like homemade chicken soup.

Like really homemade. I am all for time saving measures. I have a Costco sized jar of Better than Bullion in my fridge (which is, indeed, better than bouillon). However, nothing really competes with the flavor of  nutrient-rich, low-sodium chicken stock. It is also easy, if time-consuming. Make sure you have time to let your stock simmer for at least 2 hours to get all of the flavor out of your ingredients.

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PRETTY

The best part of making stock is that it is not an exact science. It’s like kitchen finger-painting. You literally cannot screw this up.

Fair warning – you arte gonna need some chicken bones. The more bones, the more stock you can make. I collect all my gruesome chicken pieces in a bag in the freezer: chicken backs from breaking down whole chickens, fully formed carcasses from store-bought rotisserie chickens, wing tips from making my famous oven fried party wings (forthcoming post, I promise), bones from chicken pieces. Freeze it in a Ziploc bag and, once it’s full, throw it in the stock pot!

Emeralds and Ampersands Homemade Chicken Stock

Discarded chicken bones (any kind will do)
Two onions, chopped
3-5 Carrots, scrubbed and chopped
3-5 Celery, chopped
Bunch parsley, or herbs of choice
Water
Salt
Pepper

Toss chicken pieces in a large stock pot. Add vegetables. Chop herbs roughly and add to pot. Cover with enough water to cover all ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, partially cover. Occasionally, skim scummy residue from the top of the water. Allow to simmer for several hour, or until chicken has imparted flavor and golden color to the stock. Season with salt and pepper as desired, keeping in mind that low sodium broths are easiest to control while cooking. Remove from heat, cool.

Strain out bones and vegetables, discard. Vegetables will become very mushy. Run through fine sieve and add back to stock, if desired.

Add stock to soups, sauces, braising liquids, curries, risottos, polentas, or a myriad of other uses.

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Golden elixer

My favorite way to store stock with also be your favorite: frozen into ½ cup portions. Once you’ve strained out the bones, let it boil down a little. I like mine super concentrated. Now grab your muffin tin.  Line the cups with cupcake liners. Do this. If you don’t, you will get to pry frozen chicken goodness out of tins for a long time.

I may have learned this the hard way.

Anyway, spray the liners with some cooking spray. Now ladle the cooled chicken stock into each tin. Any time a recipe calls for a cup of stock or broth, I will through in a little frozen puck with a ½ cup of water. Instant richness!

You can make it through the winter now, blogland. All you needed was a little chicken soup.

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2 thoughts on “Homemade Chicken Stock : Your cure for the Bleak Midwinter

  1. I just now got around to trying this recipe (with turkey). I have one piece of advice and one question. Advice: Check to see whether or not your muffin tin will fit in the freezer *before* you fill it with broth. Finding out that it is too wide to fit when it is filled is beyond frustrating. (Another one of those ‘hard way’ things you wish someone else had learned for you.) Question: Why is it that your broth is a clear, beautiful amber and mine looks like dirty dishwater?

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