Taking Stock

Img_6456There’s much to be said for the convenience of pre-trimmed, pre-packaged chicken parts, but one thing it deprives you of is a nice chicken carcass with which to make that foundational ingredient of so many fine dishes: homemade chicken stock. Canned or boxed stock is fine, but it lacks the nuance and sweetness and just plain un-acrid tastiness of homemade stock. And it denies one the pleasures of stock making, a soothing culinary act that is about as close as you can get to making something out of nothing. After boning a chicken the other day (for a nice, crisp-skinned pan roasted chicken dish), on a whim I made a quick (45 minutes quick) stock out of the carcass, 8 or so cups of water, an onion, two carrots, two celery stalks, some parsley, a bayleaf, some pepper corns, a pinch of salt. I simmered it, skimmed it, and ended up with a stock that could’ve served as a cold-soothing soup, a risotto enricher, a sauce starter, the brodo in a Batali-esque torn pasta and brodo dish, and so on. (This time around it ended up imparting its rounded, homey flavors to a nice batch of lentils upon which we served pan-roasted chicken sausage). And—for the duration of the meditative, low-stress, 45 minute cooking process—it made this harried father feel frugal and downright artisanal.
—Hugh

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