Now that we’ve all made it through the holidays unscathed, I would like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year! That being said, it’s time for you to open up your pantry along with that fancy cookbook you got for Christmas and start creating some new traditions for your family.
Speaking of the weather, it’s been quite frightful outside lately so let’s make the inside delightful...starting with your kitchen! Nothing tastes better on a blustery winter’s day or night than a bowl of slow-cooked, hearty homemade soup. It makes for a great meal when served with crusty rustic bread. Made with an assortment of fresh vegetables, meats, noodles, seasonings or anything else that you might enjoy. You are only limited by your imagination. Make it your own creation; the only rule is, there are no rules!
Before we can make a great soup, we need a great stock. A stock is made from chicken parts that have the least amount of flesh and more bone. The best parts to use for a really delicious chicken stock are necks, wings, and thighs. These parts contain mostly dark chicken meat which is full of flavor and stand up to the simmering required. Using these parts is the best way to ensure your stock contains the most gelatin, which gives it’s that natural dense body and bold flavor. The key to a great stock is to slowly reduce it so the flavors become more concentrated. What I like to do is reduce the stock a second day by 25% to really intensify the flavor.
Homemade Chicken Stock
3 lbs. assorted chicken necks, backs & wings
1 large sweet onion, cut up into large pieces
2-3 regular carrots, chopped roughly
4 ribs celery, cut up into large pieces
1 head garlic, sliced in half
1 bay leaf, fresh parsley
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1. Drizzle and coat all your prepared vegetables and chicken parts with olive oil then roast them in the oven at 425 for about an hour. When your chicken and veggies are browned, take them from the oven and transfer them to your stock pot making sure to include all the rendered juices and brown bits from the bottom of the roasting pan.
2. Fill your stockpot about 3/4 of the way full of cold water or enough to cover everything plus 3 inches. Toss in a little kosher salt, fresh parsley, and a bay leaf.
3. Set the pot on the stove over high heat. Bring it to a boil. When it starts to boil, drop the heat to slow simmer for about 1 1/2- 2 hours. Skim fat off the top as needed. When the stock is ready, strain the solids from the stock, discard the solids and fine strain once more. Let the stock cool to room temperature, then you can store it in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, or freeze it up to 3-4 months.
Use your stock to make endless soups and sauces.