On Chicken Stock and Becoming My Mother

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“3 – 2 – 1…”

I’m told that I have become my mother.

I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but I think it might be true.

I blame the kids.

When in doubt, always blame the kids.

Really, I’ve had no choice. After all, someone needs to warn the kids that the fun and games will end promptly when an eye is lost… Or that the car will be pulled over without hesitation. And, let’s not forget the drama that is counting backwards from three.

All joking aside, in a lot of ways, it’s true. For me, it’s particularly true in the kitchen. More and more, I’m drawn to the dishes and recipes of my childhood. I find myself going back to the basics and relying on things that need no recipe.

I grew up in Central Pennsylvania, right in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country. To me, chicken pot pie is made with fresh egg noodles, and I wouldn’t dare bake it with a pie crust on top. I love dark molasses, particularly in shoofly pie. I grew up on homemade bread and freshly made chicken corn soup.

And now, looking back, I’m finding comfort and wisdom in those recipes.

When things get crazy around the house (every. single. day.), I can’t wrap my head around trying a new recipe or searching out new ingredients. My brain has already reached its capacity by 10:00am on most days. While I may have had the greatest intentions when planning a new Thai cauliflower curry for dinner, chances are it isn’t going to happen come dinner time (even if I have two packets of curry paste hanging out in my pantry… for weeks).

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Instead, I’m more likely to roast a chicken… Or two. Definitely two. After all, it’s no more work to roast two. Then, I have plenty of chicken for dinner, for leftovers, for a casserole (or chicken pot pie), and for the freezer. Who’s got the time to be roasting a chicken every other day? Not me.

And, then there’s stock.

Bone broth is all the rage these days, but I prefer to think of it as stock. (I suppose there’s a bit of a difference, but I’d rather not argue semantics.) I’ve been making stock for years. Mom mom made stock. My grandmother made stock. And, while I don’t have the proof, I’m going to bet that a few more generations of mothers and grandmothers also made stock. It’s what you do.

Here’s the best part about making stock… It’s basically the same as cooking up a pot of money. It may not grow on trees, but you can make it in your kitchen.  A carton of “stock” at the store (and, yes, I insist on the quotes … the carton stuff at the store doesn’t compare to what you can make at home) can cost you a couple dollars for a measly quart.  But, you can make it with stuff that you would likely throw away at home. Simply save the odds and ends of aromatics as you cook. I save scrubbed ends of carrots, chunks of onion, and the leafy tops of celery that won’t likely get eaten otherwise. Add in the leftover bones from a roasted chicken (or two… always two). I like to throw in a few cloves of garlic, some peppercorns, salt, and dried thyme. Then, add water, simmer on the stove, and stir.

Simple. Cheap. No recipe needed.

(Although, I did include some quick directions and a quasi-recipe below.)

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Roasted Chicken Stock Without a Recipe
Makes approximately 6 cups

I think you’ll find that if you have stock on hand, you’ll use it. Substitute it in any savory recipe that calls for chicken broth. Use it to cook rice. Add it to casseroles. Make soup.

Heck, you can even cook it for forever, call it bone broth, and drink it… If you’re into that sort of thing.

  • I’d rather eat chicken corn soup.
  • Bones and bits of leftover meat from 2 roasted chickens
  • 1 – 2 onions, cut into chunks
  • Handful of celery leaves, roughly chopped
  • Handful of scrubbed carrot tops/ends/pieces
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • Approximately 6 cups water

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Combine the chicken meat and bones, aromatics, and seasoning in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven (better yet, a stock pot). Add enough water to just barely cover the top (approx. 6 cups).  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 3-4 hours, skimming the top and stirring occasionally.

Strain out the solids and store stock in the refrigerator for 3 days, or freeze for up to 1 year (I generally try to use mine within 6 months).

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