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#906: REC: Quick Chicken Stock. (I didn't believe it either!) You could'a knocked me over with a ...

Posted by: Michael in Phoenix at 9:14 pm on Feb 22, 2006

...well, a chicken feather! I finally broke down and tried the Cook's Illustrated version of Quick Chicken Stock. It shocked me.

Chicken soup is sacred. As much health tonic as it is comfort food, it becomes an oft-requested gem in one's repper-twaah once you get your recipe to a certain level. Many years of work and the incorporation of a few key pieces of advice from fellow cooks, and I've got it to a point where I am darn proud. People crow (or cock-a-doodle-doooo?!) when they try it.

It only takes about 12 hours in the pot, and another hour or so after that to properly strain, season, shred, etc., before it's ready to eat.

Then, along comes Edna Lewis and her method for browning and sweating chicken pieces to make chicken stock in under an hour. (Hat's off to Cook's Illustrated for refining the recipe AND crediting Ms. Lewis with the breakthrough).

I was HIGHLY skeptical. No way, in under an hour, are you gonna have good chicken stock. It ain't gonna be rich, deep and tasty. It ain't gonna be clear and wonderfully golden colored. It ain't gonna taste ennything like the 12-hour liquid gold. No way.

Way! How WRONG I was...

Quick Homemade Chicken Stock
1/2004

This stock can be refrigerated in airtight containers for up to 4 days or frozen for 4 to 6 months.

Makes about 2 quarts

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion , chopped medium
4 pounds whole chicken legs or backs and wingtips, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 quarts water (boiling)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 bay leaves


1. Heat oil in large stockpot over medium-high heat until shimmering; add onion and cook until slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer onion to large bowl. Brown chicken in two batches, cooking on each side until lightly browned, about 5 minutes per side; transfer to bowl with onions. Return onion and chicken to pot. Reduce heat to low, cover, and sweat until chicken releases its juices, about 20 minutes. Increase heat to high; add boiling water, salt, and bay leaves. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low; cover and simmer slowly until stock is rich and flavorful, about 20 minutes, skimming foam off surface, if desired.

2. Strain broth and discard solids. Before using, defat stock. After stock has been refrigerated, the fat hardens on the surface and is very easy to remove with a spoon. To defat hot stock, we recommend using a ladle or fat separator.

MY NOTES:

I use thighs or leg quarters, especially when they go on sale!

Use a heavy cleaver and whack the you-know-what outta the pieces. They need to be small (2"). It doesn't work well with larger pieces.

Have water boiling and ready to add to chicken when the "sweat" is finished.

BASIC CHICKEN SOUP

I take this to folks who need a good meal. This would include anyone who is recovering from illness, and the people taking care of someone recovering from illness. I keep it simple, and it is always appreciated.

Quick Chicken Stock (recipe above)

2 Tbsp. chicken fat (skimmed from stock)

1 medium onion, small dice

1 carrot, peeled and cut on the bias, 1/8" thick

1 celery rib, cut in half the long way, then cut on the bias, 1/8" thick

1 whole cooked chicken breast from a rotisserie chicken, meat separated from bone and cut or torn into bite-size chunks

Salt and pepper to taste

4 cups cooked white rice

In a stockpot or dutch oven, saute vegetables in chicken fat over medium-high heat until slightly softened and beginning to color, 5 to 7 minutes. Add stock and simmer until vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Add chicken and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes more, on low simmer.

When ready to serve, put 1/2 cup of hot, cooked rice (re-heat in microwave) in a serving bowl and ladle soup over the top.

NOTE: When I bring this to someone, I always put the cooked rice in a separate container and suggest they re-warm the rice and proceed as directed above. If you add the rice to the soup, it will absorb an inordinate amount of the broth and the soup will turn into a stew. Not as nice.

Michael

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