Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Home made Chicken stock - part 1

So, over the last few weeks we've made use of a few chickens. Whenever possible, I save as many of the bones, skin, organs, etc in bag and stick them in the freezer. When I've got enough to fill my slow cooker a few times, I make some stock.
I also save up the odds and ends of veggies for this as well. Carrots, celery, onions, chard, spinach, peppers and the like. About the only thing that doesn't work well for this is potatoes. Potatoes and similar starchy vegetables tend to cloud the stock and we don't want that. Also, you might want to add garlic or other herbs. It's a matter of making stock that _you_ like the flavor of and that works for you and your family.

This isn't a hard and fast recipe by any means. Use what you have, what you like, what you want to "sneak" past your kids (or in my case, husband...) We will be pulling as many of the nutrients out of the foods that are going into the pot as possible and making a nice, rich stock from it.

Put this in and wait 24 hours.....
This is a really easy way to make stock from left overs you would otherwise throw away and really doesn't take up that much of your time. All you really need to do it toss your left over chicken (or turkey) carcass and some veggies into your slow cooker, add some water, set it on low and walk away for 24 hours. Honestly, that's all there is to it.
 This batch was a mixture of pre-cooked carcases and raw bits from a bird I'd cut into pieces, so I had the left over necks, back bone, wings and the like.

And come back to this....

When you come back 24 hours later, you will have this lovely mess. Here's where the "work" comes in. At this point you need to strain this to separate the solid matter from the lovely stock. I use a strain and sort method so I can pick the bones of any useful bits of now cooked meat that might have stuck to the raw bones, but will just fall right off now. Save those for later use.

ooh.. marrow!
I will also use this as a chance to break open a few of the larger bones. We want this lovely marrow to have every chance to escape into the next round of stock.
Bone broth, aka, stock, gets a good deal of it's nutrients from the marrow in the bones. We want to cook them until the bones easily crumble and most of the marrow has escaped into the stock.
(Sorry about the fuzzy picture, my battery was dying..*sigh*)

 Then back into the pot goes the bones, and bits again, as they still have lots to give. I will add in more of the bones from my freezer stock pile and more veggie scraps and run this for 3-4 days until my stock pile is gone and I've gotten pretty much all that I can from the bones.

Here you see round 1 of the stock. There is a nice shimmer of fat on top of this and it is still cloudy from some of the smaller particulates. I plan to use some of the stock I'm making this week for soup, but the bulk of it will most likely be bottled this weekend for long term storage in the pantry. Before bottling, we will want to remove as much of the fat as we can, so this will get covered and go into the refrigerator every night after getting topped off. (I will easily fill this bowl and perhaps another before we're done..)

So, next day we pull this out and before we go about repeating the strain and sort and adding the next round of stock to the bowl, we need to remove the fat. As you can see, it has solidified overnight in the fridge. This makes things much easier as now you can simply use a spoon or a fork and simply lift the fat off the top of the stock in small sections.
Again here, I always save the fat that I skim off my stocks. I use it for all sorts of things from seasoning my cast iron to using it as my saute fat when browning onions, mushrooms or peppers and such, or anytime I'm working with something that could use a little extra fat in the preparation.

congealed stock
That leaves me with this lovely, semi-congealed stock. The natural collagen from the skin and bones will gelatinize  the stock while it is refrigerated. From here you can use it as is, freeze it or bottle it for long term storage. I will be doing bottling later in the week and will cover that then, but first, I will be pulling some out for "fresh" use in a soup in order to use up some other left overs:
No pictures, but I had some left over meatballs that I quartered, added some mixed veggies, a can of diced tomatoes and some left over rice. I added a few ladles full of the stock and about a cup of water, along with some herbs and let that all simmer.
Serve with garlic bread and there was dinner.

In part 2, I will show you how I bottle all this goodness up for storage in the pantry.

Also, if you've been to this site before, you might notice a new button off to the side. We want to adopt and could use a little bit of help with some of the finances for it. We had most of the money we would have needed last year before the 2 layoffs and some emergency septic line repair. Now that Hubby is employed again, we're working on building everything back up, but, we would certainly be very grateful if anyone felt impressed to help us along with donations. Adoption is, sadly, not cheap, not easy, and not guaranteed. But it would go a long way if we could get our homestudy paid for and out of the way. We've been quoted a price for the homestudy of around $2000, and, if we're lucky, the entire adoption could be around $10,000, which would be wonderful as many agencies charge 4 or 5 times that, or more. We are also working with the foster care system, so if we get matched through that, things could be much less expensive, but we need that initial home study out of the way so that we can get things moving along. Any contributions would be wonderful. (And I'm not above bribing... or making a deal for some of my home made jams, jellies, pickles, syrups, etc...  just saying...)

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