I can’t believe that it’s already Monday… we were so busy this weekend that it flew by! We finally finished the velvet-tufted headboard and installed it (and then re-installed it two more times since I didn’t like the placement lol) and we installed the new curtain panels as well. I’m also in the process of dying our old bed skirt so that we don’t have to buy a new one just to change the color. We took a break on Saturday to attend a benefit for a local woman who’s battling breast cancer, it was such a wonderful event and it had such a great turnout! We’re still shuffling furniture around the rooms upstairs trying to decide where we want things but it’s coming along! Back at the beginning of the month when I did the post on cutting up a whole chicken I mentioned that we also started making our own stocks. I was really skeptical as I started the first batch because I just kept thinking why would someone take all this time to make stock when you can buy it for a relatively inexpensive cost at the store. I quickly discovered why as we tried the finished product for the first time… I was blown away at how different real stock tastes. I was already sold and vowed to only make our own stocks from then on- and then I found an even easier way to do it. My parents got me a professional grade pressure cooker for Christmas and I started cranking out chicken stock in even less time with more flavor! I’ll show you how to do both and seriously encourage you to try it out… our freezers full of stocks and it’s so nice to always have it on hand.
For the regular Chicken Stock: Wash 5 pounds of assorted chicken parts and place them in a large stockpot (1). I set aside the backs, wings, breast bones and necks from the whole chickens when I cut them up. The smaller the pieces, the better because it will infuse more flavor into your stock. Add just enough water to cover the chicken (2), my pot is an 8-quart one so about 16 cups of water was what I needed to cover. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. As this happens, the chicken fat will start to bubble on the water’s surface… you need to remove as much of this as possible. Use a small straining ladle (3) to skim this fat off the top and discard. While that’s coming to a boil, you can cut up your mirepoix which is the combination of aromatic vegetables that will give you a subtle background of flavor. Cut two medium onions into eighths and cut two stalks of celery and two medium peeled carrots into about two inch pieces being sure to leave the celery leaves on. As soon as the liquid comes to a boil, turn it down to a simmer because you don’t want the impurities from the fat to emulsify in the stock. Add in your mirepoix, two dried bay leaves and 1 tsp whole black peppercorns (4). Cook at a simmer for 4 hours to get a really rich, full-bodied stock. Remove from the heat then pass the stock through a cheese-cloth lined colander (5) and then let come to room temperature. Once it’s room temperature, move it to the refrigerator to chill. A really great stock is a gelatinous one…the gelatin gives the stock its body and you get this when the connective tissue in the meat breaks down during the simmering process. Once it’s gelled there will be a hard layer of fat on top… use the side of a spoon to scrape this off and discard (6). Transfer to containers, label, date and either use within 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
To make this stock in a fraction of the time, you can tweak the recipe slightly and use a pressure cooker. My parents got me this one (and it’s on sale for 50% off right now!) and I love it. Start off the same way as your regular stock (1) but use 10 cups of water (2) since it won’t cook as long and won’t evaporate as much as the standard stock. Skim the fat just like before (3) and add the same mirepoix (4). You won’t reduce heat until after the top has been put on the pot and the pressure has been brought up. Put your top on, bring the pressure up according to your model’s instructions and then adjust the heat just enough to maintain high pressure (5). Cook for one hour and then release all the steam before opening your cooker… you can do this faster by running cold water over the lid. Because the stock was cooked under great pressure and for a shorter amount of time it will be lighter in color but deeper in flavor (6). Following the previous instructions strain the stock, cool, chill, skim off the fat, put into containers and either use within 3 days or freeze up to 3 months!