Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chicken Stock Day!

Today is my third favorite day of winter. Next to Christmas and Christmas Eve, Chicken Stock Day is my favorite cold weather day. I wake up and put a whole year's worth of chicken carcasses in a pot of water and spend the day stirring and cooking. This year I have a gallon bag of chicken legs we never got around to eating, Thanksgiving's turkey bones, the carcass of a rotisserie chicken we ate one day, and the skins of all the chicken breasts we have eaten all year. That, 3 carrots, 3 celery stalks, an onion, herbs and a head of garlic, and now my house smells like soup. The reason this is a cold weather activity is because A) it will heat your house (it's not the heat, it's the chicken-scented humidity!) and B) you can't put the finished stock right in the fridge or you'll heat up and spoil everything else in there so instead of buying or making tons of ice we just bring in tons of snow to pack around the stock pot in the sink. And no matter how long any recipe says this is going to take, plan on at least 12 hours. It takes time to simmer everything down enough (you'll know it's done when you can take out a leg bone and it snaps like chalk) and then cool it enough to put it in the fridge. And then the next day you skim the fat disc off the top and divide the stock between quart freezer bags and store them in the basement freezer. All year, when anyone in my house gets sick, I cut open a bag or two of stock and boil noodles in it. We all get healthy (no bubonic plague yet!) and eat yummy stock that is NOT msg and artificial flavoring. Win-win!

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