Saturday, February 4, 2012

Have you heard? There's gold in them chickens!

Yes corny, but oh so true. I use chicken stock in many of the dishes I make and I think it just makes things taste better. BUT oh my goodness so expensive! I happen to take a cooking class at my local gym in which they talked about how to break down your own chicken and how to make your own chicken stock. Which I promptly did, just to prove I could, but I honestly struggled with getting it just right.

After a bunch of searching and trying things I found that this is what worked for me:

In my crockpot I put:
1 whole chicken
onion, roughly chopped (whatever you have on hand)
carrots, roughly chopped (whatever you have on hand)
celery sticks, roughly chopped (whatever you have on hand)
parsley (if I have fresh I do one or two stems but if I don't I put enough dry in the palm of my hand until it gets to nickel size)
(if I happen to have mushrooms hanging out in the fridge they go in too)
I add salt & pepper too but I really don't know how much... I just go with my gut (if I had to guess I would say about a 1/4 teaspoon of each)

Cooking time... well I generally do this after the kids go to bed so I start it around 8:30pm and then I let it cook until about 5pm the following day. I pull out the chicken (or as much as I can without it all falling apart on me). I take a large bowl or stock pot and put a strainer on top of it... the very important thing is to line the strainer with cheese cloth. Then I pour the liquid into the strainer.

Now comes the fun part... storing the stock! The best method I have found is to let the liquid cool slightly and put it in freezer bags. A word of caution... Sandwich bags are not a good substitute unless you let your stock cool down a whole lot. I like to lay the bags flat when I freeze them... mainly because the first time I did this I put them in the side door and when they froze they sort of molded themselves to the space and it wasn't easy getting them out... let's just say it involved a blow dryer and a whole lot of swearing (in my head of course).

OK so now I have all this chicken too. We typically just shred it and put it in a container to use during the week in enchiladas, mix it with pesto and pasta, salads... etc. Again, I have to say I do not like chicken BUT it is a huge time saver during the week most of the time AND it keeps me from going through the drive thru!

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