One night in my Dad’s kitchen while we drank wine, he whipped up a homemade chicken stock. This seemed strange to me given that my recollection of most meals with my dad as a child involved take-out. Even my mother finds this to be shocking as she recalls making index cards when I was a toddler that included instructions for “boiling water” – a helpful recipe in her handwriting to guide my then hopeless-in-the-kitchen father when he was left to care for me solo. Yet somehow, over the decades, he had taken up a love of cooking and learned through both practice and formal instruction how to cook with proper technique and I now find myself stealing his recipes more and more often.
Probably most impressive of all was this evening he taught me to make a chicken stock because stock was always one of those things I felt intimidated by and had never attempted. Why make stock? I thought. They have these amazing little things called “bouillon cubes” that work just fine. Need chicken flavored water? Just dissolve one of those babies and you’re good to go. The thought of tackling fresh stock seemed like a complete and total waste of time – a truly unnecessary step in the journey to making anything that was once meant to be simple and chicken based. And here my Dad was making one while carrying on delightful conversation with his dinner guests.
Boy was I mistaken.
Homemade chicken stock is the greatest thing to ever happen to my kitchen. Thanks to the wisdom bestowed upon me by my father, I now make a stock every week – sometimes twice a week. There is nothing better than fresh chicken stock and the amazingly tender poached chicken that you get from this surprisingly simple process. For meal planning, a stock and a pulled poached chicken you yield from it are two of the most powerful tools you can have in your arsenal week to week. And when you see how easy it is to make it, you’ll be drinking my Kool-Aid overnight.
Once your stock is made, you have instantly added numerous options for simple meal planning for your week ahead. With the pulled chicken you can easily make anything from chili to chicken tacos to mixed pasta dishes to pulled chicken sandwiches (all recipes to come soon!). The chicken freezes well and you can portion it out for upcoming dishes so all you need to do is remember to thaw it the night before. And the stock itself is not only delicious, but instrumental in making dozens of soups & sauces (also to come). I decided to get this recipe posted as early as possible because you will see its contents popping up in recipes pretty often. It is truly a staple building block in so many wonderful dishes. So give this one a try and make some room in the icebox cause when you start getting used to having these reserves in your freezer you’ll never go back to the way life was before.
- 1 Organic Free-Range Whole Chicken
- 2 Cups Chopped Organic Carrots
- 2 Cups Chopped Organic Celery
- 1 Organic Vidalia or Sweet Onion, Chopped
- 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 15 Whole Peppercorns
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1 Bunch of Whole Organic Fresh Parsley
- Approximately 6 Quarts of Water
- Begin by quartering your chicken. Note: You can ask your meat counter or butcher to do this for you if you don’t feel comfortable with cutting up your own bird. Set aside in a clean area.
- Heat your olive oil in a large, 7 quart soup pot or cast iron dutch oven. Saute your mirepoix (celery, carrots & onion) and cook for 2-3 minutes. Salt the vegetables and continues to cook until the onions are translucent.
- Place your chicken into the pot, breasts first (breast side down), and then the remaining sections of chicken.
- Lay your bunch of parsley on top of the bird.
- Fill with water until just the bird is covered and bring to a boil.
- Add water until the contents reach no more than 1 inch from the top of the pot (about 6 quarts total volume)
- Add your peppercorns and bay leaves.
- Simmer for 2 hours. Cool for 1 hour on the stovetop.
- Remove the bird and set aside to collect to the meat.
- Strain your stock with a fine mesh strainer to remove all the debris.
- Store in air tight containers and freeze or refrigerate and use within 5 days.