Last night’s roast chicken experience left me feeling a bit…discouraged. I had set out to make a dark chicken stock today, but after waking up from a decidedly irritating night, I was leaning toward not making it at all.
While at the gym sweating my damn ass off, I decided to go for it. What else am I doing with that chicken carcass I so diligently saved? I need to make tasty soups and stews! I need to add something special to my meals, even if I am just cooking for myself, damnit! Most of all, the daunting experience of making chicken stock needs to be had!
So make it I did. I began by cleaning off all the meat from the carcass. (Since I had thrown my chicken leftovers in the freezer, the bones from the wings, legs and thighs were not available for this.) Then I oiled up a baking sheet, and put the carcass on the sheet. I divided the bones up a bit to get even roasting and good color. I took a few generous spoonfuls of flour and dusted the bones with it. Then, I took some tomato paste and put a few globs of that on as well. I mixed all that together on the sheet (do the best you can with the mixing, all this process does is give you a nice color…it’s kind of cheating, I guess), and threw it in a preheated 350F oven.
Then, I got out some carrots, celery and onions. Your vegetable amount is suggested to be 1/3rd to that of the chicken bits. (In other words, you should have 2/3rds chicken, 1/3rd vegetables). I eyeballed about 25% carrots, 25% celery, and then 50% onion. Rough chop those ingredients into chunks. Then, oil up a roasting pan (you’ll want something with ample sides) and throw the vegetables in that. Put them in the oven as well.
Check in on your bones and vegetables every now and then. It’ll take probably about 1-1.5 hours for things to caramelize nicely. When you’re checking up on your bones and vegetables, shake them up a bit. You don’t want things sticking to the bottom of the pan, and you want a good, even roasting.
While things are roasting, get your herbage together. You can really add anything you want, but you’ll want to grab a couple of bay leaves, like two or three sprigs of thyme, and some whole black peppercorns. I added a sprig of rosemary because I had some lying around from the night before. I eyeballed the amount of all of these because I wasn’t totally sure how much this was going to be in the pot I was using.
Once things are done roasting, place them in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Fill the pot with cold water so that everything is covered. Add in all your herbs. Crank up the heat so it simmers. You NEVER want this to boil. Anthony Bourdain recommends letting this simmer for 8-10 hours, but that totally depends on how much you are making. I found that after 3 hours, my stock had reduced quite a lot so I stopped it. It’s completely up to you.
So now you can kick back, listen to some music, watch that movie you always meant to watch, read a book…whatever. Check in on your stock every now and then to skim the fat off the top (if there is any).
Once you think your stock is done, strain it through some cheesecloth. You can strain it as many times as you want, some feel the more the better. I grew a little impatient and only strained it once.
I had a little taste of my stock before putting it in the freezer, and I think it is a success! I can’t wait to use it!
I encourage you all to make your own stock. It really is easy, and although it’s an all-day process, you can do other stuff while it’s simmering.
Oh, and chicken leftovers are awesome. Tomorrow I will use some to make Khoresht Karafs!