From Scratch, With Love

Playing with chicken

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So, today I made chicken stock for the first time.  And with the chicken stock, I made this.

Chicken with dumplings.  John had been telling me about how his mom used to make it so I decided to try it.  His mom sent us her recipe but I decided to do things the hard way (duh).  I’m not going to share the recipe here because it’s super long and I just got it off of simplyrecipes and don’t have much to add – the author explains it pretty well.  I suggest you try it out.  Seriously, look at these dumplings.

I would like to share my experience of two firsts: cutting up a whole chicken, and making chicken stock.

I’d like to say that any advice about how to cut up a chicken would be much appreciated.  I looked it up in Joy of Cooking and it worked out okay but I feel like I could have cut it more cleanly so that I could have used the meat more efficiently.  But I guess that comes with experience.  It is nice how cheap it is to buy a whole chicken, compared to buying the parts.  I may have to do it more often, at least when I know I’ll be eating a lot of chicken.

Chicken stock: takes a long time but involves very little actual work.  I made enough to freeze about 4 cups of it for later uses after the 5 cups I used for the stew – saves me money on the store-bought stuff and gives me more flavorful stock! The simplyrecipe’s recipe had directions for chicken stock, but I used a family recipe I had been meaning to try.  Want me to share?  Okay! Here goes.

Fill a large stock pot with about a gallon of cold water.  Add:

3 pounds of chicken parts (back, neck, wings, or whatever’s cheap)
1 onion, sliced
6 cloves or garlic, sliced
3 stalks of celery, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
2 bay leaves
a few grinds of black pepper
1 tsp sage
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
a few sprigs of plain parsley

Bring to a boil.  After 10 minutes, reduce heat and allow the stock to simmer uncovered until about a quart of the water evaporates (you can judge by looking at the scum line on the pot).  Cover and let it come to room temperature, then scoop out most of the solid stuff and strain it over a sieve of a colander into a large bowl to get the rest of the solid stuff out.  You’ll see that there’s a lot of fat floating on the top.  If you’re going to use it right away, as I did, you can take a lot of the fat out by laying a paper towel on the surface of the stock, which absorbs the fat.  (This method does lead to a lot of waste of paper towels.  There is a device on the market which separates the fat, but I don’t have one.  Maybe I should get one.)  If you’re not using your stock right away, the fat will separate from the stock as it cools and you can just spoon it out (sounds gross).

Portion it out into whatever size container you want to store it in – I measured out a cup and a half, since that’s usually the amount I use.  Some people freeze it in ice-cube trays and defrost the cubes as needed – this could be useful for stir-fries.  Joy of Cooking tells me that it will last for 3 or 4 days in the fridge and up to 6 months in the freezer.  You can defrost it easily with some foresight by moving it into the fridge the night before you plan on using it.

So that was my adventure today with chicken.  Now I’m really hot and tired, but also satisfied.  It’s been a great weekend of culinary adventures.  I can’t wait for the next one.

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Written by poperatzii

May 23, 2010 at 8:49 pm

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