The many virtues of home-made chicken stock

This is the beginning of chicken stock making season for me.  In truth, it is more satisfying to make chicken stock when the weather gets a bit colder, but I am underemployed in the early fall and too busy to make chicken stock in the winter when I need it for soups and holiday dishes.   So in September I start poaching one chicken a week, eating the meat as I go and freezing the broth and stock for later.  This is not a burden.  The process of making chicken stock makes me happy on so many levels.  It makes my house smell delicious and cozy.  It maximizes the amount of food that you get out of a chicken and minimizes the waste.  I hate wasting food.  Food moldering in the fridge brings out my most controlling personality traits (ask my former room-mates).  I love that it is actually possible in an apartment with no deep freeze to process and consume an entire chicken.  I would eat more beef and pork if I had space to store the entire animal and cook it all myself.  Lastly, you get so much food out of one chicken!  It’s magical!  When you poach a whole chicken you get light chicken broth (good for soups) and yummy poached chicken meat.  Then you can  throw the bones back into a pot with some vegetables and make chicken stock (very useful for sauces since the bones give the stock body and richness).  I usually make something out of the poached chicken meat while the  bone stock is cooking.  Since I poach so many chickens in the fall, I have a lot of recipes that call for poached chicken meat.  I will post my two favourites here along with directions for making broth and stock!  Scroll down to find recipes for Hashed Chicken with Sage and Cranberries and Coronation Chicken Salad.  For a good recipe for chicken empanadas (gluten-free or not), click here.

I usually buy an organic free range chicken.  However, I have admit that the best chickens I ever used for this were stewing hens acquired at a Chinese market in Queens which were not organic.  The organic ones are young chickens, which are more tender but less flavourful than stewing hens.  The ones from the Chinese market also still had their claws!  I don’t know for sure that the claws added any extra flavour BUT I liked them because the claws would reach out of my pot.  As the chicken heated up the tendons in would loosen and the claws would MOVE!  I realize that this may not be a selling point for everyone.   I found it thrilling and I am certain that added to my ultimate enjoyment of the broth.

POACHING CHICKEN FOR BROTH/ USING THE BONES FOR BROTH

You can certainly add more vegetables and herbs to this poaching broth.  I keep it very simple so that the broth will be useful in any kind of soup (see bowl on the right).  I usually add more stuff to the stock made from bones to add extra flavour (see bowl on the left).

  • 1 four to five-pound chicken
  • 12 cups of water
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 yellow onions for the broth
  • 2 ribs of celery with leaves for the broth
  • 2 carrots for the broth
  • 2 yellow onions for the stock
  • 4 ribs of celery with leaves for the stock
  • 4 carrots for the stock
  • Any, none or all of the following for the stock: Leftover leek greens, garlic, parsnips, leftover corn cobs, mushroom stems, turnips, thyme, sage, dill, parsley, cilantro
  1. Thouroughly rinse the chicken inside and out.  Check inside the cavity.  If there is a bag of organs or a neck inside rinse them as well and reserve them in the fridge for the bone broth.
  2. Put the chicken in a very large pot and cover it with 12 cups of water and the salt.  Cover the pot and heat until boiling.
  3. While the water boils, peel and roughly chop the onion and rinse and roughly chop the carrots and celery.
  4. When the water boils turn the heat down a bit and skim the scum off of the top of the water.  A large shallow spoon works well.  Try to get as much of it off as you can and discard it.
  5. Add the vegetables to the pot and continue to simmer for 45 minutes.  I usually prep the vegetables for the bone stock and also for whatever I am making with the poached chicken while the stock is doing its thing.
  6. After 45 minutes check the chicken.  It should be tender and the legs should wiggle.  Move the pot away from the stove to cool for a while.  I usually finish the rest of the prep and do a round of dishes while the chicken is cooling.
  7. Fish the chicken out of the broth and let it cool some more on a platter.
  8. Strain the broth through a mesh sieve into another large bowl or pot and set it aside to cool.  Through the vegetable pulp away.  Don’t bother washing the soup pot.
  9. Pull the poached meat off of the bones.  Chop the meat and reserve it in a large bowl.  Throw the bones into the soup pot as you go.
  10. Collect all of the chicken juice from the platter and add it to the soup pot.  You can throw the skin away or put it in the pot too.  Also, add all of the vegetables for the stock and enough water to cover.
  11. Bring the bones, vegetables and water to a near boil, and then simmer it while you cook one of the following recipes with the poached chicken meat.  Keep an eye on the stock. Keep tasting it.  It should be rich, flavourful  and a little bit sweet.  Sometimes it only makes about two cups.  Sometimes I add more water to let the bones cook longer.  I season the stock after I have strained it.

HASHED CHICKEN WITH CRANBERRIES AND SAGE

This is from The New England Cookbook by Brooke Dojny.  My friend Katherine gave it to me and it is one of my favourite cookbooks.  This dish tastes like Thanksgiving stuffing.  I’ll give you the recipe as its written but this one does not need to be exact at all.  You can change the amounts or add in other flavours that you like in your Thanksgiving stuffing.  Sometimes I add apples  or pecans.  You can make it with left over roasted turkey or chicken rather than poached  chicken.  Sometimes I make it with a rotiseree chicken from the store when I’m really busy (I still make stock from the bones).  If you are making it with roasted chicken you can opt to omit the half and half.  If you are making it with poached chicken or roasted turkey the recipe needs the half and half or it will be too dry.

  • 4 cups cooked, unpeeled red skinned potatoes cut in 1/2 inch cubes (don’t overcook them!!)
  • 4 cups poached chicken, diced
  • 1 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 3/4 cups sweetened,  dried cranberries
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (more to taste )
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup half and half plus 2 or 3 extra Tablespoons
  • 3 to 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  1. Toss together everything but the oil in a large bowl and stir to combine
  2. Heat the oil in a very large, wide, heavy skillet.  Cast iron is best.
  3. When the oil is hot add the hash, spread it out evenly and press it down with a spatula
  4. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, uncovering to stir every five minutes.
  5. Uncover, raise the heat to medium high and cook stirring often for 5 minutes.  If it seems dry add more oil.  There should be some crusty golden brown bits.
  6. Turn the heat off and stir in the last 2 Tablespoons of half and half  and adjust seasoning before serving.  I like this hash leftover for lunch with steamed or grilled broccoli, asparagus or green beans.

CORONATION CHICKEN SALAD

This recipe is adapted from the Tea and Sympathy Cookbook.  Tea and Sympathy is an amazing, tiny tea shop in the west village that serves tasty British home cooking.  The kind of food that your English granny would make for a tea-time meal.  I can only assume that the bad reputation of British food has something to do with boarding schools and snooty restaurants that wish they were French, because British tea-time food totally delicious.  I think this is called Coronation Chicken because it was invented for the coronation dinner of  Queen Victoria (was it Elizabeth?). This recipe is also an in-exact science.  It responds well to innovation, so have at it.  It also makes WAY more sauce than you need for one poached chicken.  I usually freeze half of it for future chickens or to use as fancy barbecue sauce for pork.

  • One onion chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup curry powder (like madras curry powder)
  • 1/4 cup tomato puree or paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 cans of apricot halves (drained) or 1/4 cup apricot jam
  • 1/4 cup mango chutney
  • salt ans pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup of mayonnaise preferably home-made (see the recipe in 4  reasons to make home-made mayonnaise posted on August 8th)
  • The meat from 1 chicken (poached or roasted), diced
  1. Saute the onion in butter over medium heat
  2. When the onion is soft add the curry, tomato, wine, bay leaf, lemon, apricot and chutney.  Cook, stirring occasionally until it reduces and becomes quite thick.
  3. Let the sauce cool a bit.  At this point I usually put half of the sauce in the freezer.  The other half of the sauce I combine with 1/2 cup mayonnaise and the diced chicken. adjust the salt and pepper before serving.  I pack coronation chicken for my lunches with any or all of the following: salad greens, cucumbers, red pepper, avocado, toast.

FINISHING THE BROTH AND STOCK

Once the broth is cool I put in 4 cup portions in sealed containers in the freezer.  If you like you can refrigerate it over night and skim the fat if the top before freezing it.  When the stock is cool I pour it into ice-cube trays to freeze overnight.  In the morning I put the frozen cubes into a bag so that I have small amounts of stock to add to sauces.

About Big Sis Little Dish

This is a blog run by two sisters. Erin is the big sister who lives in New York, and Silvi is the little sister who lives in Vancouver. They both love to cook! They created this blog to share and store recipes for the food they make.

48 comments

  1. Katherine

    This may seem completely sacrilegious to a foodie like yourself, but I learned from the book Hungry Monkey (http://hungrymonkeybook.com/), a fantastic and funny book about cooking and eating with a toddler, that frozen hash brown potatoes (basically frozen diced potatoes) make a pretty decent substitute for fresh if you’re in a hurry. The author of this book sings the praises of hash and insists – and he is absolutely right – that anything can be made into a hash and if you keep frozen hash browns around and have some leftover meat or chicken, you can have hash for dinner on a busy weeknight. Of course, nothing beats this chicken & cranberry hash made according to this recipe you posted here.

    Why don’t I ever make this coronation chicken??? I even have the Tea & Sympathy Cookbook! Argh!

    Sadly, we never make homemade stock anymore. Really, this is very sad. And kind of stupid. Someday…

  2. YOU have an excellent excuse for not making home-made chicken stock. This way of doing it creates a lot of food in a short amount of time…..but that amount of time is still longer than a baby or toddler will give you to concentrate in the kitchen. I hope that one of your children takes an interest in helping you and Alex cook when they get a bit older (the odds are good considering your collective gene pool). You should make coronation chicken though. With a rotisserie chicken its really fast and it dosn’t even matter if you follow the directions.

    I am not offended by the idea of using frozen potatoes. I don’t use frozen stuff much myself because I like to cook and I have time to do so and I live in a city where I can get fresh any thing, any time. However, both of my grandparents had massive freezers full of meat and vegetables from their farms….so in truth a huge portion of all that wonderful food I remember from my childhood was frozen. Probably not potatoes though, since they can keep over winter. One interesting thing about freezing food though….it reduces salty flavour but not sodium. In other words food that has been frozen has to have more salt added to it in order to taste salty. Weird huh? I wish I could remember now where I read that….

  3. Glenda Berry

    Yum! I plan to make lots of chicken stock this winter in chilly Kula. I’m much more interested in my stove since I moved upcountry from Kula. Also I will have parings from fresh garden veggies to throw in the stock pot!

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