Monday, March 30, 2009

Chicken Stock (for the Insane)

My five-year anniversary freezer arrived and I couldn't be more excited. I really hit the ground running this past week. Last Sunday I hit the farmers market and loaded up on the goods for a huge batch of chicken stock. Monday morning I prepared the stock and let it simmer for four hours.

Then, panic set it. As I was separating the liquid and solids and straining the stock, I got my first glimpse of just how much stock I had. The recipe from Ina that I followed (kinda) said it made 6 quarts. I knew by making three pots of stock (one chicken per pot) that I would yield more stock than that but I was in no way prepared for the amount of stock coming out of these pots. When you're filling a pot with water, you look at it differently than when your assessing stock for storage. What was I going to do with all this stock. Straining it was the first battle and I pretty much threw my back out man-handling those enormous pots.

Managing the pots, bowls and strainers was a battle in itself. I pulled every large bowl I had so I had something to strain the stock into, but they say to strain it twice so that meant cleaning the first pot so I had somewhere to strain it back into (and store it in overnight). Oh the coordination of it all. I can't tell you how many times I asked myself what sane person would ever do this. Repeatedly, I answered "a sane person would not do this".

Cooling the stock in a sink full of ice water was another problem since I had so many pots, only one sink and so much ice. I was finally able to solve that one using oversized mixing bowls as ice baths.

Storing the stock overnight in a fridge was my next obstacle. I cleared out everything I possibly could and amazingly made room for three large pots. I still had one to go though. My first "Food 911" call was to my friend who lives down the street. She didn't have any room in her fridge for a huge pot. Yikes! Second call was to my sister-in-law. No answer. I was going to have to to figure this out quickly since my stock needed refridgeration sooner than later. I ended up clearing out a vegetable drawer and putting a large bowl in there. Every time I opened the drawer I'd get a little wave of stock over the edge of the bowl but it was my only option.

Tuesday I skimmed the fat and transferred the stock to jars and plastic containers. I had to make a late night run on Monday for more jars and thank goodness I did. I filled 7 huge jars, 8 medium jars, 5 large yogurt containers, plus 3 quarts leftover in the fridge for soup for Wednesday and Thursdays meals.

I was giddy as I stored the stock in my new freezer. What a glorious site!

In addition to my freezer full of homemade chicken stock, I also had enough shredded chicken to feed an army. I removed a few breasts after one hour so they wouldn't be too dry. I also pulled some more chicken out at the end of the four hours. I made delicious
Cha! Cha! Cha! Chicken Tostadas for guests on Tuesday night and had leftovers for lunch Wednesday. We had my Avgolemono soup for dinner Wednesday night. My brother and a friend joined us, plus I sent a few bowls home with another friend. We had a little leftover soup for lunch Thursday. I love the fact that my batch of chicken stock provided enough chicken for 15 meals, not even counting the stock.

In the end, it was worth the time and effort and I would do it again in a heartbeat.


michele c said...

We need a freezer so bad - I never realized you would need so much food with a family of 5, it's serious! Going to start looking for one tonight!

Erika said...

Sane is SOOO over-rated! Now that you have done it once it will be easy to fine-tune the process for the next time. It is so much easier to make something quick when you have half of the yummy ingredients all ready to go! I have had good luck freezing the chicken, too. Pre-cut or shred it so it will be all ready for enchiladas, chicken salads etc.