If you’re looking for ways to add flavor to your dishes while saving money at the store, consider making your own chicken stock. By using chicken carcasses and bones along with cuttings from vegetables, you’ll actually be able to make chicken stock by “recycling” discards from your other meals. Not only will you save money, you’ll feel good knowing you aren’t letting any food go to waste.
Step 1: Throw together your ingredients
Almost anything goes when making a chicken stock. Place chicken bones, a whole chicken carcass or chicken legs in the bottom of a large pot. Throw cuttings from vegetables and herbs on top. Carrots, celery, onions, basil, garlic and thyme are all popular options, but really, you can add whatever you’d like. You can even throw skins from potatoes on top — they’ll actually add color to the finished stock.
Step 2: Get the stock started
Fill your pot with enough cold water to completely cover the added ingredients. Place the pot on the stove and bring the water to a steady simmer. You’ll want to watch the pot carefully at this stage, because you don’t want the water to come to a complete boil. You’ll notice the water getting cloudy, then beginning to bubble. The bubbles will collect at the surface, creating a “scum-like” crud at the top. When this happens, the water is preparing to boil. Lower the stove’s temperature and use a spoon or ladle to skim the froth off the top of the water’s surface. Re-adjust the temperature one more time to keep the mixture simmering.
Step 3: Wait it out
Allow the chicken stock to simmer for four to 12 hours. Experts have different opinions regarding the amount of time required to create a great stock. The longer you allow the mixture to simmer, the stronger the resulting chicken stock, so allot the time based on your taste preferences and the amount of time you have available.
You may want to periodically add a splash of cold water to the mixture to keep the stock’s volume at a relatively even level. This will allow you to boil the stock down at a later date when preparing soups or other recipes.
Step 4: Finishing up the stock
After the stock finishes simmering, allow the pot to cool for approximately one to two hours. Strain the solids out of the stock, and pour the stock into glass or plastic containers you can easily store in your fridge. If the stock is still fairly hot, cool the containers further by placing them in a bowl with water and ice.
If you don’t plan on using the stock in a few days, pour it into sealable plastic baggies and store them in your freezer. Just take them out and let them thaw when you’re ready to put them to use.
Recipe: Simple chicken noodle soup >>
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