Lock, Stock, an Two Chicken Feet: Homemade Stock

March 28, 2009

I love how Judy Rogers of Zuni Restaurant dedicates 2-3 pages of text solely to chicken stock making. Her cookbook is somewhere between a textbook and a travel guide. That is how I read it. It is a novel about simplicity and technique. It talks about how to coax a handful of ingredients into fruition. Jenny would call its contents ‘wartime recipes’. In light of the economic obliteration of the last 6 months, they are more appropriately, ‘recession recipes’. Not because they are cheap, but because they maximize resources.

The things that stick out to me about this recipe is that the whole chicken is used, head to claw. As Judy Says:

“Whole birds – with their head (or at least the jointy neck) and feet – are my first choice for stock making. They provide a convenient combination of the meat, bone, connective fibers, and fat that produce great flavor and body.”

The connective tissue lends texture and flavor to your dishes. When you drink the broth, it coats your mouth and stomach in a full-bodied manner. It is addictive. Restaurant-grade.

Judy also specifies less water, low temperatures, and an uncovered pot. I was surprised by the uncovered pot, as I have been taught to cover anything that simmers. In the end the lid is superfluous. If you have done it correctly, a half centimeter of chicken fat serves as the perfect proxy. Additionally, for some reason the lower temperature extracts more focused flavors.

Because I usually make broth out of leftover carcass or from 6 stripped skeletons that I bought from May Wah for $2, I have adapted Judy Roger’s recipe to fit the busy kids lifestyle.


SUMMARY: In a nutshell, You will strip your chicken of its breasts, cram the rest down into the bottom of a pot, cover with minimal water, and faintly simmer for 4 hours.

WARE: A wide pot. Wide is better than small but tall.

- 1 3.5-4 lb chicken, the more intact it is, the better
- 1 onion, rough chop
- 2 celery ribs, rough chop
- 2 carrots, rough chop
- 1 bunch celery
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 clove
- 1 t salt
- Water (not set amount, but approximately 1-2 quarts)

1. Remove the breasts with a boning knife. Use for something else… like saltimbocca.

2. Hack down the rest of the carcass into 3-4 pieces and cram them into the bottom of a wide pot. If some limb sticks unevenly upwards, break it at its joint and smoosh id down until flat and level. If the feet stick out like in the style of Thriller, cut them off and stuff them back down.
Picture this: Trying to cram a carcass into a dwarf sized coffin. Gruesome, but necessary…

3. Cover with cold water. Do not fill more than necessary. Just until covered.

4. Bring the pot to boil on high. Once the water starts to boil, foam from the carcass will rise to the top. Give the pot/animal a good nudge to loosen the foamy bits. Skim.

5. Push the vegetables, bay leaf, salt and clove into the crevices of the bird. Try and submerge. This is the last time you touch the bird until you are finished!!!!!

6. Lower the temperature to simmer, leave uncovered and let it cook for 4 hours. A liquid fat layer will develop, which seals in the flavors. You will find something to pass the time while the house warms.

7. Taste and adjust seasonings. I suggest keep the broth relatively low in salt. In cases where you want to use it in risotto, do not add salt as it will reduce.

8. Pour into a glass jar and let cool. Tighten a lid and allow it to self-seal. The fat will keep the broth from spoiling.

9. If you have used a whole bird you broth will be solidify to a loose Jell-O. This is perfection.


Dewi said...

Sounds like a perfect chicken stock indeed. Most of the time I am too lazy to make my own. Will try to make it, because it's worth it!

Anonymous said...

A bunch of celery...or did you mean a bunch of parsley?

katie said...

you're right - a bunch of parsley. ;) nice catch.

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