White Chicken Stock
- 2 pounds chicken wings
- 1 plump 4 pound chicken, ideally free range organic
- 3 medium onions, peeled and cut into chunks
- 3 ribs celery, cut into chunks
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 whole leek, split lengthwise, washed well and chopped
- 1 parsnip or small white turnip, chopped
- Contents of your stock bag (optional, explained below)
- 2 bay leaves
- 10 peppercorns
- Several sprigs of thyme
- Several sprigs of parsley
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
Place chicken wings in bottom of large stockpot. Tie together the legs of the chicken with a piece of kitchen twine. Place whole chicken in pot on top of wings. Scatter remaining ingredients around chicken and pour on the wine. Add cold water to cover chicken generously, by about 3 inches. Bring pot to a simmer over high heat, then skim any foam that may have accumulated on the surface with a ladle and reduce the heat to low. Cook at a bare simmer for 1 hour, skimming foam and fat frequently and regulating the heat so the stock does not boil. After 1 hour, remove the whole chicken and let it cool enough to be handled. Cut apart the chicken and remove the meat; reserve for another use. Throw out large pieces of skin and return the bones to the still simmering stockpot. Continue to barely simmer the stock 2 hours. Strain through a coarse sieve into a large metal bowl and cool 2 hours at room temperature, then refrigerate uncovered until chilled. Cover and store up to 2 days before either using or reducing and freezing.
To reduce and freeze, remove any congealed fat from the cold stock then empty it into a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over high heat then lower heat to medium and reduce stock at a lively simmer until half the original volume. Skim as necessary. When well reduced, allow to cool then pour through fine mesh strainer into small freezer containers, label and freeze. To use, add an equal quantity of water to the thawed chicken stock.
Making excellent stock requires paying attention to a few simple rules. To ensure clear stock, use cold water, skim frequently, and never let the stock boil, which would incorporate fat and particles in the liquid. Keep the stock at just barely a simmer so that it smiles, bubbling gently and occasionally. In this manner your chicken meat will be tender and moistly poached as well. Use plenty of aromatic vegetables to give the stock a good flavor base, and use a large stewing hen which has more flavor than younger birds. Extra chicken wings enhance the stock.
This recipe yields about 4-6 quarts of stock depending on how rich you like it, as well as a good amount of poached chicken meat. Use it for chicken salad or tacos, etc., or freeze it to use when you reconstitute the broth and turn it into an improvised soup.
Skimming tips: use a large ladle held parallel to the surface of the stock. If you place the stockpot off center on the burner, fat and foam will accumulate in the coolest area, making it easier to skim.
What is a stock bag?
In restaurant kitchens, little is wasted, including vegetable scraps. Mushroom bottoms, tomato cores, zucchini and onion ends, etc., all tend to make their way into a chicken or vegetable stock simmering on the stove (at least one is going at all times) You can replicate this method by throwing such scraps into a ziptop freezer bag in the freezer, and using it to enhance and add complexity to chicken or veg stocks. Two rules apply: Not too much of ANY one vegetable, which would overwhelm the stock; and NO vegetables that are intensely strong or bitter (cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant etc.) But bits and ends of squash, green beans, pea pods, tired lettuce leaves as well standard aromatic vegetables and those mentioned above are quite at home in the stockpot.
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