I am doing a dinner for some Chinese friends. She asked for [an American] “holiday dinner.” I decided to do a chicken variation of the deconstructed stuffed turkey that I made for Thanksgiving.
To make this dish, I need chicken stock for the stuffing and gravy. When I buy a whole chicken I usually cut out the back and save the necks and giblets for making stock. I have four pounds saved up and I really need to clean out the freezer.
Karl’s Chicken Stock
4 lb. chicken bits (backs, bones, necks, giblets, and wing tips)
2 Tbs. butter
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 large stalks celery, coarsely chopped
2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
5 cloves garlic, whole
½ tsp. Kosher salt
32 oz. commercial chicken broth (optional)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. chervil
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. summer savory
½ tsp. black pepper
1. Place the roasting pan with the necks, backs, and bits on the middle rack of the oven and turn on the broiling element on high.
Tip: Lining the pan with foil makes it easier to clean up the messy pan.
2. Broil the chicken bits for 30-40 minutes.
Tip: Turn the pieces as needed to brown all sides and to prevent burning.
Note: If any of the bits gets badly burned, discard that piece.
3. While the bits and bone are broiling, add two tablespoons of butter to a large soup pot, over a medium high heat.
4. Sauté the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic with the salt, until just starting to pick up some color.
Tip: Add a cup of liquid if you need to, to prevent the vegetable fond from burning, while you wait for the bones to brown.
Note: You may just use water, but I like to add some commercial broth and maybe some dry white wine, if I have an open bottle on hand.
5. Transfer to roasted bones and bits to the soup pot and add some boiling water to the roasting pan.
6. Scrap up any fond in the pan and pour it through a fine meshed sieve into the soup pot.
Tip: You want to recover the flavorful fond from the pan, but you do not want to add the coagulated scum to your stock.
Note: Scum is the common name for the lipoproteins that cooking meats release. While it is edible, it will make your stock cloudy and grainy.
7. Add a total of 9-10 cups of liquid to the pot.
8. With this many bones and scraps I want to make plenty of stock, so that I have some on hand for latter dishes.
9. Add the bay leaves, chervil, thyme, summer savory, and black pepper to the pot.
Tip: I used dried herbs, but—if you have them—you may use just a little less of the fresh herbs.
10. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for one hour.
11. Remove the meatier bones from the pot and let them cool slightly.
12. Strip most of the meat from the bones and return the bones to the pot.
Tip: There is a lot of good meat on the many of the bones, especially on the neck bones, that you do not want to cook to death.
Note: Reserve this meat to add to the stuffing or other dishes. You may also mince it very finely and return it to the finished stock to make a very meaty stock.
13. Continue to simmer the chicken bits, until the liquid is reduced by about half, about another two hours.
Tip: The longer the better. You may also add some fresh herbs and/or more vegetables to the pot, if you wish.
Note: If you are a bit shy you may make up the difference with some commercial broth.
14. Strain the solids out of the stock through a sieve and discard (see note below).
Tip: At this point you should have about five cups of chicken stock.
Note: I hate to waste food. Many chefs would discard the celery and carrots mixed in with the bones and skin, as being “used up” and too much trouble to recover. I am planning to make chicken gravy with some of this stock and I picked out most of the vegetables for this purpose (see this recipe).
15. Put the chicken stock in cover-able container(s) and refrigerate or freeze for later.
Note: Once the stock has gelled the fat will float to the surface. If your diet requires you to eat low fat, you may then easily remove as much or as little of the chicken fat as you wish.