Recipe Type: Soup
Since Axel and Sue Linde are now bringing chicken backs and wings to the market (and at a reasonable price!) it’s time to make stock. Home-made stock, especially when it’s from pastured, chemical-free chickens, is so much better than anything you can buy in a can or carton that you’ll never go back to pre-made stock again. It’s also very easy to make good stock at home: you’ll need a large stock pot and a few hours for simmering and you’ll end up with the most beautiful soup base you’ve ever imagined. Makes 10 to 12 cups
- 4 to 5 pounds chicken parts, including backs and wings, rinsed and dried
- 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, quartered
- 2 crushed garlic cloves
- 1 medium to large carrot, cut into chunks
- ½ cup flat-leaf parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
- 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick (optional)
- 10 to 12 cups cold water
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- If you wish to make a richly colored golden-brown stock make sure the chicken pieces are very dry. Put them in a stockpot with the olive oil and onions and set over medium heat. Brown slowly, turning frequently, until all the chicken and the onions are golden, 20 to 30 minutes.
- If, on the other hand, you want a clear, light chicken stock, omit this first step and simply put the chicken pieces in a stockpot.
- Add the garlic, carrot, parsley, bay leaves, thyme, cinnamon, water, and salt and pepper. Set over medium-low heat and slowly bring to a simmer. For the clearest stock, carefully skim the foam as it rises to the top. When the foam has ceased rising, cover the pot and simmer very slowly for at least 1 ½ hours, or longer if necessary – the chicken should be so thoroughly cooked that it is falling apart.
- At the end of the cooking time, strain the stock through a double layer of cheesecloth or a fine-meshed sieve. Discard the solids, which will have given up all their savor, in any case. Taste the stock and add more salt and pepper if you wish, but keep in mind that if stock is to be reduced later on it will concentrate the salt.
- Transfer the stock to the refrigerator to let the fat rise and solidify, after which it can be removed easily with a slotted spoon. Once the fat has been removed the stock can be frozen for long keeping.
- Note from the Oakmont Farmers Market: The cinnamon will add a delicious ‘Mediterranean’ flavor to this soup but can be omitted if the stock is to be further reduced to be an all-purpose chicken stock base (called a demi-glace). If you do want to make a demi-glace, cook the skimmed and de-fatted stock over a very low flame for a very long time, until the stock has reduced to one-quarter or less of its original mass. To use, defrost and add water to bring the stock to the concentration you prefer to use. You can also use small blocks of demi-glace to add flavor to sautés and stir-fries as well as a classic French base for sauces.
- The most important thing to remember when cooking a stock is that you NEVER let it come to a boil. Always make sure it stays on a very low simmer and barely a bubble for the demi-glace making. If it comes to a boil it will become cloudy.