This morning, I turned on the heaters for the first time this season. The dust crackled and burned so I opened the windows to let in the air. Then, I proceeded to assemble three big pots of chicken stock and left them burbling on the stovetop. The windows are steamed up and Barnaby is sighing beside me as he naps. The rain is pouring and life is good. No, make that great!
Fall is when I start cooking up huge batches of stocks and soups to freeze. Any rain-free moments are spent outside tearing up and maniacally rearranging my garden beds. My front walkway is still overflowing with new plant acquisitions that visitors get to hopscotch over. And the cooler weather means that I get to dance around my kitchen in fuzzy socks.
Cooking chicken stock makes a mess. By the time I’m done filtering the stock and putting it in containers, my kitchen will require a deep clean. So, I like to make as many batches as I can at once and then freeze it to use all winter long. I always make sure to freeze some in ice cube trays to add to rice and sautéed dishes. And it usually works, unless My Pirate starts sneaking chicken stock to work in his thermos like he did last winter. I could barely keep chicken stock in the house.
Over the years, I’ve tried every chicken stock recipe that I encountered until I found the one that was just right. Alice Waters nails chicken broth in her book, The Art of Simple Food. I love how she takes the time to go into great detail about broth techniques and ingredients. Using a whole chicken for the broth feels a bit luxurious, but the results are worth the added expense. Plus, you can cut the chicken breast meat off an hour into cooking.
By Alice Waters in The Art of Simple Food
- 1 whole chicken, 3 ½ to 4 pounds
- 1-½ gallons of cold water
- 1 carrot peeled
- 1 onion, peeled and halved--I used leeks from my garden
- 1 head of garlic, cut in half
- 1 celery stock
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 bouquet garni of parsley, thyme sprigs, and a large bay leaf
Place the chicken in a large pot and fill with cold water. Place the pot over high heat, bring to a boil, and then drop the heat down to medium low. Skim the foam off the broth with a spoon.
Then add the remaining ingredients and slowly simmer broth for four to five hours. I usually cook mine for five hours. Taste and adjust seasonings. Then serve hot or place it in the fridge to cool.