Thursday, September 30, 2010

Easy Homemade Chicken Stock + Other Pantry Staples

I like to make things from scratch. A lot. There are benefits and drawbacks to doing this, though. The good thing is that you know exactly what goes into what you're making, it (usually) tastes better and costs less than its store-bought counterpart, and (for me at least), it's fun to see ingredients come together in something that you wouldn't think of making at home.

The drawbacks? Once you fall in love with something that you make from scratch it's awfully hard to go back to the store-bought version. Yes, it obviously takes more time, and it's especially aggravating when you run out of multiple things at the same time. That happens to me a lot.

Recently I've been making chicken stock from scratch and have loved the results! It's a great way to get more out of leftover chicken bones (especially whole chickens which I've fallen in love with this past year). And the "recipe" I added below is simply a set of guidelines to get you started. As long as you've got an onion, a couple of carrots, and some celery you're set. Fresh herbs are a nice addition, too, but if you're buying fresh herbs for the sole purpose of making stock, then homemade stock may not be a cheaper option. It'll definitely taste better and have considerably less sodium, though. If you've got an herb garden or know friends who have herbs, it'll save you a lot of money.

I've added a few other recipes for pantry staples that I've tried so far and most of them I keep on hand all the time.

Because I love ya.

Buckwheat Pancake Mix
Regular Pancake Mix - This one helped wean me off of Bisquick. You can sub whole wheat flour to suit your tastes.

Pumpkin Pie Spice
Curry Powder
Paula Deen's House Seasoning
Taco Seasoning
Middle Eastern Spice Blend
Sweet Potato Fry Sprinkle

Homemade Magic Shell Topping - Yes, you heard me.
Semi-Sweet Hot Fudge
Strawberry Sauce

Squash/Pumpkin Puree
Croutons/Breadcrumbs - There aren't instructions for bread crumbs on this post, but if you make the croutons, then throw them in the food processor you'll probably end up with dried, seasoned bread crumbs.
Sun-Dried Tomatoes without the Sun
Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce - I always have 2-cup portions of these in the freezer. It's great for both pasta and pizza.


Easy Homemade Chicken Stock
by Natalie

1 meaty carcass from a 2-4 pound chicken (probably doesn't weigh that much anymore)
1 onion, quartered
2-3 stalks of celery, cut into large pieces
2-3 carrots, cut into large pieces
a large handful of fresh herbs (I like thyme, sage, parsley, and rosemary)
about 10 whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 peeled garlic cloves (optional)
1 leek, white parts only (optional)

Place all ingredients into a very large stockpot and fill with water up to an inch or two from the top of the pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer on low for 4-6 hours.

Remove from heat and strain. I usually fish the big pieces out with a ladel, discard them, then pour the rest of the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a 4 qt bowl. Let it cool to room temperature, then cover and chill thoroughly (like overnight). Skim fat from the top of the bowl, then transfer broth to containers for storage. It'll keep in the fridge for about a week. You can use mason jars, large empty yogurt containers or freezer-safe zipper bags for storage in the freezer.

Makes around 4 quarts, depending on the size of your pot. I always use a 7 qt pot and come out with 4 quarts of stock.

Nat's Notes:
1. One variation I've seen is roasting all of the vegetables (and the chicken neck) before they go into the pot. I've never tried this, but I imagine it gives the stock a richer flavor. You wouldn't have to simmer the stock as long, either, probably only an hour or two.

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