Many people rely on canned chicken broth for use in their holiday cooking. Swanson probably makes more money this time of year than at any other! Their broth is fine, but really doesn’t have as much flavor as I’d like it to. After taking the cooking class series with Chef Jackson York of Edom Bakery and Grill, I now know the difference in a good stock and a canned broth. Broth is basically watered down stock, and I’m not sure how many fresh vegetables and herbs the factories actually put into their broth! One way to know what’s in your stock is to make it yourself! Here’s how to do it; if any part of this method is unclear, please feel free to comment to ask about it. I’ll be glad to clarify.
Put in a large stock pot some raw chicken pieces, such as thighs or breasts, leaving in the bones. The bones/collagen give rich texture to the stock, as well as lots of flavor. The proper proportion is supposed to be one part meat to three parts water, I believe, but I’m not terribly exact about that.
Cover the chicken with cold water, not hot.
Put the pot over heat, and simmer. You don’t want a full, rolling boil, just a light, bubbly simmer.
Begin skimming off the foam that rises to the top after the first few minutes of boiling.
After no more foam rises, you can add your mirepoix; this is simply your raw vegetable mixture. I dropped in a few carrots, an onion, and three stalks of celery. These can be chopped instead of finely minced. You’ll strain these out at the end.
Also add two bay leaves, and some fresh thyme and parsley, if available. Just a stem or two will do it.You may bundle these and tie with twine to make it all easy to remove at the end; this is called a bouquet garni. (remember when Bridget Jones did this, and used a red yarn to tie the bundle? Everything she cooked turned pink! Lesson learned.)
Do not add salt. Salt should be added at the END of cooking. If you salt it at the beginning, your salt will remain in the stock, though much of the water is going to evaporate, and you’ll have too salty a stock. Salt does not evaporate.
Chicken stock should be simmered for three or four hours for best flavor. You may add water, if needed, during cooking, but if you’ve started out with a lot of water, you likely won’t need to. I made this this morning in a 5 1/2 quart enameled dutch oven, and it was nearly full; I ended up with a quart of beautiful chicken stock. I strained it through a wire mesh strainer to remove all the herbs and whatnot. You could also use cheese cloth over a bowl to do so.
I used my boiled chicken to make chicken salad. Yummy!
Also, keep in mind that stock can be frozen for later use. I try to keep some in my freezer at home all the time. Very handy when making chicken spaghetti, white turkey chili, chicken enchiladas, etc.
After straining, I added a little salt, and the stock was so good I just wanted to sip a cup of it; I didn’t, though, because I’ll need it all for my recipes. I love Thanksgiving! I hope you have a beautiful one!
(chicken photo from willowridge.shs.k12.ny.us)