So. Why don't you make your own stock? Unless the answer is, "Because I'm vegetarian," you seriously have no excuse not to. Or at least you won't in about five minutes, because I'm fixin' to show you how to make some bang-up stock, otherwise known as Culinary Gold, from stuff you probably would have pitched anyway!
Look, if you only ever use this for soups, it would be worth it to make. If you add sauces, gravy, and risotto to your stock-using repertoire, it's just that much more valuable in your kitchen. Plus, let's not forget the incredible nutritional value of Jewish penicillin!
OK. Let's start.
You'll need the contents of your stock bag. I completely forgot to take a picture of this, which makes me feel like a moron, because it's essential. But here's a quick summary: I have a plastic bread bag in my freezer door. Whenever I use onions, carrots, celery, garlic, or parsley, I put the peelings, ends, tops, stems, etc. -- basically the "waste" -- into the stock bag. When it gets about half full (more or less... this ain't rocket science, people!), it's ready to use.
You'll also need the carcass, skin, giblets (which are in a handy-dandy little bag), and wings of a smallish roasting chicken -- just those little guys in the grocery store. I roasted mine (which is what I usually do with whole chickens) and then picked all the meat off the bones for use in various other applications. And then...
Here's my large stock pot, with the chicken carcass, giblets and wings, plus the contents of the stock bag, covered with water:
You'll also need one bay leaf...
And some peppercorns...
Then just simmer it for a few hours or all day or overnight or whatever makes your skirt fly up. Strain out the veggies and bones. If you want a clearer stock, you can strain through a tea towel or cheese cloth, which will remove the sort of particulate matter. But be warned: this stock WILL stain whatever you strain it through! Onion skins were once used to make brown fabric dye. I'm just sayin'. Don't come crying to me if you ruin the beautifully embroidered tea towel your dear departed Aunt Momo gave you. Got it?
Oh, also, I was going to show you a picture of the finished stock in the pot, but it basically looked like the beginning of an episode of Bones -- bits of skeleton floating in brown water, i.e., not appetizing. So I spared you. See? I'm not completely merciless.
Refrigerate for a few hours or all day or overnight or whatever cranks your gears. When the stock is chilled, it'll have a thin layer of solidified fat on top. Skim the fat off and pitch it. Or try this instead.
NOW! This is important, Stock Virgins: your stock will probably be gelatinous! Not only is this OK, it's fantastic! Have you ever watched Ina Garten? She's all homemade stock, all the time, and all of her stock is a sort of liquidy-jello texture. What it means is that you've successfully cooked the collagen out of the bones and skin of the chicken, giving your stock amazing nutritional value and lending amazing, unctuous texture to whatever you put it in.
Once you've skimmed the fat off, put your stock into containers...
And stash it in your freezer. As you can see, I use incredibly fancy and expensive storage containers. And boy, this is a whole new level of blog transparency, isn't it? I'm showing y'all pictures of the inside of my freezer. Geez.
You can also freeze your stock in ice cube trays, pop the cubes out and store them in a gallon zipper bag. Standard ice cube size is 2 ounces, so this works well if you make a lot of recipes that call for a half cup (2 cubes) or a cup (4 cubes) of stock. I could not possibly tell you how long these CAN last in the freezer, because they only last two or three weeks, tops, in mine.
Now, go forth and make stock! You can thank me later.
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