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homemade chicken stock


As a cook I am sort of lazy. I love great food, but for me the most satisfaction comes with taking really great ingredients and preparing them simply. I pride myself in keeping it pretty easy. I also am somewhat sponteneous in my cooking - my idea of a shopping list is something like this:

salad stuff, veggies, fruit, bread, lunch stuff, 2 dinners, cereal, milk, eggs, butter, etc.

You get the idea! I prefer to be insprired by what I find, rather than be frustrated that avocados are on my list but they are under or over ripe. As a result, things like homemade chicken stock usually get skipped. I want to make risotto or soup right now...not in a few hours or tomorrow.


Recently my dad had a major operation and one of the things that made me feel like I could contribute to his recovery was preparing the most delicious wholesome food I could. In the first days, when broth was a staple of his diet, I made an enormous pot of rich homemade chicken broth. I would like to think that I will forever take this extra step...the broth was so much more flavorful than anything you can buy, and the whole nature of it was different too - much more gelatinous. On an intellectual level I've always known that homemade stock was superior but to really feel like I made something that might help the healing process was a pretty special feeling. 


So, here is how. The list below is what I used but you can vary it somewhat as long as you have a good assortment of veggies.


Dark green portion of a few leeks, thinly sliced

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

4-6 carrots, sliced or chopped

4-6 stalk celery, chopped

1 or 2 parsnips, sliced or chopped

2 small onions, quartered (leave skins on but trim off roots)

3 or 4 garlic cloves, peeled

2 bay leaves

parsley stems

1 whole chicken (rinsed, gizzards removed)

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 teaspoon salt


Submerge leek greens in a large bowl of cold water to remove any dirt. Lift the leeks from the bowl and if there is sediment in the bowl wash it out and repeat this step until the water is clear.


Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium high heat. Add the carrots, celery, parsnips, onions, garlic, and leeks, and cook stirring occasionally until vegetables are begining to soften but are not browning, about 10-15 minutes.


Add bay leaves, parsley stems, chicken, peppercorns, salt and 20-24 cups of water. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer. Cook for 60-90 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked. Remove chicken from pot, leaving the rest to continue simmering.


Once the chicken is cool enough to handle remove the meat from the bones. If you have time and want to make a really rich broth you can toss the bones back in the pot and continue simmering for another 30-60 minutes. Remove from heat and strain the solids out of the broth and discard them.


It is best to cool the broth before putting it in the refrigerator or freezer - I recommend making a large icebath and cooling it quickly, working in batches if necessary. This will help prevent spoiling. 


By the way, if you do not want to use the cooked chicken for soup it is perfect in chicken salad with cashews.


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