Cold, windy days coax me into the kitchen. The chill makes me want to cook rustic foods that scent the home with fragrant herbs for the whole day. One of my favorite winter day recipes to make is chicken stock.
Stock is more than just homey-smelling goodness. It is bursting with nutrition, containing electrolytes and minerals such as magnesium, calcium and potassium. It also contains protein in the form of gelatin. This gelatin helps the body digest and is used successfully in the treatment of many digestive disorders including hyperacidity and Crohn’s disease.
I don’t know where the recipe for chicken stock originated. It seems like everyone has a version of it. Some make it with chicken bones left over from something else, a roast chicken, for example. Others make it with a whole chicken and cook it forever until there isn’t any flavor left in the meat. They then discard the meat. Sometimes, I use the first method and sometimes I use a combination of the two. For the combination, I start with a whole chicken in the stock pot, but when the chicken is perfectly tender and melting off the bones, I remove it from the stock, let it cool slightly, then remove the meat from the bones and save it for another recipe. The bones then go back into the stock pot to continue flavoring the broth. I like this method, because I end up with both the stock and the cooked chicken meat at the end.
I use the cooked chicken to make chicken soup, chicken pot pie, and even chicken salad. The possibilities are endless. The stock can
be used in all kinds of soups, sauces and other recipes. The day I make it, I often make a recipe that uses both the chicken and the stock, for example, chicken soup or chicken pot pie. Don’t worry though, there will be plenty of stock left over to store in the freezer.
If I plan to use the stock one or two days after making it, I store it in the refrigerator. If it will be longer, I put it in the freezer. Freezer safe canning jars are perfect storage containers for broth. Half pint and pint sized are available for this purpose. While quart-sized canning jars are not freezer safe, there are other types of glass freezer-safe containers designed to hold larger amounts of liquid available.
Defrost frozen broth in the refrigerator. When you are ready to use it, don’t worry if the consistency seems more like jelly. This jelly- like consistency is caused from the healing collagen in the broth. Its presence means you have done a great job making the broth!
Now, don’t get me wrong. I know that I said the stock takes hours to cook. That doesn’t mean that you need to spend hours in the kitchen! No way! It takes just a few minutes to get started, then you can go curl up on the sofa with a good book and watch it snow as that glorious fragrance perfumes your home.
For more information on the health benefits of stock, check our the following article: http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/broth-is-beautiful/
- 1 whole organic pastured chicken
- 2 whole onions peeled and quartered
- 4 large carrots each cut into large pieces
- 3 ribs celery cut into large pieces
- 4 sprigs parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 12 black peppercorns
- 1/2 cup white wine, preferably organic and sulfite free
- pure, filtered water (about 4 quarts)
- Place chicken in a large stock pot or large dutch oven.
- Add the onions, carrots, celery, parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns and wine.
- Add water to cover the chicken.
- Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat.
- Turn to the lowest heat setting.
- After 2 to 4 hours, or when chicken meat is cooked through and tender, remove the chicken to a large bowl.
- After chicken has cooled slightly (so you can touch it without burning your hands) remove meat and refrigerate for another purpose.
- Return chicken bones to the stock pot.
- Allow stock to simmer all day (8-12 hours total).
- When stock is finished, turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Using a strainer, filter stock in batches into a large container that is easy to pour from. I use a two quart measuring cup.
- Pour into appropriate storage containers.
- Skim the fat off the top of the stock. This is easier if your refrigerate it for a while first
- Stock may be stored in the refrigerator or, for longer term storage, in the freezer.
- This stock may also be made in a crock pot and cooked on low heat for 8-12 hours. This is a great option if you need to step out of the house while it is cooking.
- The longer the stock cooks, the deeper the flavor and more nutritious it will be.