Family of N

5 Reasons to Keep Chicken Stock Stocked

Posted in Food, Frugality by Laura on January 11, 2010

The Professor and I roast whole chickens regularly, more as an excuse to make mashed potatoes than for the sake of the meat. After one of these meals, no mater how exhausted I am, I always force myself to stick the carcass in our slow cooker to make stock.* This means we always have homemade stock on hand.

Now, I’m not going to spend this post telling you why you should make your own stock. (Although, did you catch that this stock was made from chicken bones I was going to throw away anyway — as in, virtually free? At the grocery store, that much stock would cost you around $7!)

But, ahem, I’m not going to tell you that in this post. This post is an ode to chicken stock in any form, and a reminder to me that our freezer (or pantry, if necessary) should never be lacking this staple.

    1. Together with a frozen package of cooked, shredded chicken, it makes Chicken n’ Dumplings a weeknight meal.
    2. Together with a frozen package of cooked, shredded chicken, makes chicken vegetable soup** as sophisticated a culinary endeavour as a dump cake.
    3. Makes egg-drop soup*** the go-to elixir for anyone in the house who gets sick.
    4. You can have gravy**** with those mashed potatoes.
    5. You can use some of the stock in a yummy dressing to go with the roast chicken. I use Harmony’s recipe.

Below are my recipes from the easy dishes made with chicken stock:

*Overnight Chicken Stock
To a chicken carcass, add 8 cups of water, a couple bay leaves, some peppercorns, and remnants of onion, celery, or carrot if you have any. I like to cut up the bones some and add vinegar if I remember — this helps the bones release all those healthy nutrients. Then set the pot to low and forget about it till morning. (At which point, the overpowering smell of rich chicken stock will remind you again.) Strain and freeze.
**Might-As-Well-Be-Dump-Cake Chicken Vegetable Soup
Combine chicken, 6 cups stock, 6 cups tomato juice, and frozen soup veggies in stockpot or slow cooker. Salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. Cook for 2-10 hours.
***Egg-Drop Soup
Heat 6 cups chicken stock; season with salt, pepper, soy sauce, ginger, garlic powder, onion powder, and sesame oil if you have it. Beat 4 or 5 eggs in a separate bowl. When the stock reaches a boil, stir in eggs using swift strokes.
****Rich Chicken Gravy
If you scatter onion slices around your roast chicken before putting it in the oven, the roast chicken drippings make it a rich gravy. Remove all but a 2 Tablespoons of drippings from the roasting pan. Over high heat, mix 2 Tablespoons flour into the drippings in the roasting pan. Cook for a few minutes; you want the flour to brown some. Add 1 cup chicken stock, stirring over high heat till smooth and thick. Season to taste and strain.

5 Responses

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  1. Harmony said, on January 11, 2010 at 9:00 am

    I used to make my own chicken stock regularly, but it’s been a looong time since doing that. We don’t often roast chickens, so I actually made quick stock, a la Cook’s Illustrated. Delicious, but requiring nearly constant attention for an hour, plus the straining and shredding later. So since Pearl, I have regrettably gotten into the habit lately of buying chicken stock. It’s not nearly as good (oh, for the days of my rich, homemade chicken stock!), but these days I’m lucky to even have dinner on the table – much less time left over to make stock, shred chicken, etc.

    But thanks to Trader Joe, I can buy organic free range chicken stock for $2 a quart. And someday the baby will not require constant attention and/or supervision and I will be able to make chicken stock again.

    • Laura said, on January 11, 2010 at 11:19 am

      For us, a 4-cup box of stock that doesn’t have MSG in it really does cost $3.50. (And it’s never on sale.)

      We also have the luxury of affordable organic whole chickens — it’s the only organic meat we can afford, so we do grab these up when they’re on sale. Maybe it’s because we make it so often, but we find roast chicken to be one of the most manageable meals with a baby underfoot. Although it is a bit more difficult when (1) Savannah decides to take a 2-hour nap in your arms right when you need to be putting the chicken in the oven, or (2) you add from-scratch mashed potatoes to the menu. (The Professor’s opinion might be influenced by his high regard for mashed potatoes, but he insists they’re easy to make.)

  2. Harmony said, on January 11, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Mashed potatoes are easy to make, and so delicious!

    I wish we could afford organic chickens, but organic meat around these parts is prohibitively expensive. I usually won’t buy meat that is over $4/lb, so that pretty much wipes out any organic meat. 😛 If kosher chicken were available and cheaper than organic, we might switch to that. But we just don’t have many options – even fewer now that our Publix has closed.

    • Laura said, on January 11, 2010 at 12:04 pm

      Oh, but there’s so much peeling and cutting for mashed potatoes — makes for very unhappy babies while the cook is occupied!

      We know we are fortunate that we can get whole organic chickens for $1.59/lb on sale so often. On very rare occasions I have been known to pick up organic beef (chuck roasts) for $3.50/lb on manager’s specials, but that’s a bit high for our budget.

  3. jim said, on January 23, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    I enjoy hatching eggs and I loved this article. Very informative. Keep up the good work!

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