We in the fog

Hi! I hope you can hear me through the fog. From where I'm sitting, I can only see about twenty feet out the window. I'm up at Alex's parents' kitchen counter in Truro, and normally, I can see a deck and a thicket of beach plums and then the big, wide arc of Cape Cod Bay. But this morning, when Fisher and I woke up to make tea, we couldn't even see the beach. I tried to let him out, but he took one sniff, turned around, and came back inside to lie down. It's that kind of a day.

We've decided that rather than fight it, we're going to make a batch of butternut squash brownies and chicken noodle soup. Oh! and chicken salad. There's a lot of leftover roast chicken in that fridge.

I don't know if you make your own chicken stock, but I never did until I was shamed into it. In a recipe I wrote a few years back for my column in Maine, I called for for canned chicken stock, and Lee Johnson of Arrowsic was not impressed.

"CANNED??? chicken broth?!" she wrote. "Canned chicken broth costs money and is either very high in sodium or tasteless and it is certainly not local."

She had a point. And so, following her directions, I learned to make stock—strip the carcass, add water, an onion, a bay leaf, and heat. Boil for an hour, maybe two, then cool the broth and drain it. Throw out the bones and put the broth away, then let the fat rise to the top, gel, and skim it off if you like when you go to grab your breakfast milk. (I usually do, but since we buy our chickens from a farmer I trust—my friend Drew—and he raises his birds on pasture, I don't throw it out. I save it for sautéing veggies instead.) Sometimes I freeze it, and on days like today I use it fresh for chicken noodle soup.

As for chicken salad, I like mine simple: something crunchy, something nutty, mayo, and some sort of fruit. Today we're doing a Waldorf sort of variation—you know, like the apple salad with walnuts, celery, and yogurt. Except there's chicken, and mayo gets swapped in for the yogurt. It's good.

What do you do with your chickens? Special stocks? Chicken salads? Soups? We in the fog bank would love to hear.


againstthegrain said...

I haven't bought chicken broth in years. I consider commercial broth more like rinse water. Bones & carcasses have so many important nutrients and minerals that the skeletal muscle lacks; our ancestors certainly didn't waste bones - they treasured them, even preferred the big marrow bones to the meat.

I hardly every buy boneless chicken anymore, and typically buy whole chicken, whole legs, or thighs. It's economical, tasty, and stays moist. I've had too many chicken breasts with the texture and flavor of wet paper towels.

While I do save roasted chicken bones and carcasses for broth making (often in a zip bag in the freezer), I also often poach a whole chicken on the stove or in my slow cooker (with onion, celery, & carrots, a bay leaf and a few whole peppercorns). After a few hours when the meat is cooked through (time varies depending on size), I remove the whole chicken (taking care not to avoid hot splashes if a leg falls off), let it cool enough to touch it, then quickly pull the big meat parts off to use as boneless meat for snacks and recipes. I don't spend a lot of time picking tiny bits off, as they can enrich the broth. If I have access to chicken feet, I add a couple of those, too, as they really enrich the broth with flavor and gelatin. The bones, skin, and joints go back in the poaching water along with a few tablespoons-1/4 cup of vinegar (usually apple cider vinegar, but anything clear and light colored vinegar will do) to acidulate the water. Acidulated water allows the minerals in the bones to leach out into the broth in a very bioavailable (absorbable) form. Additionally the gelatin from the bones is very soothing to the GI tract.

I simmer broth covered in my slow cooker as long as 24 hours in order to wring the maximum flavor and minerals out of the bones. The broth takes on a golden color this way (canned can't hold a candle to it) and it's safer for overnight cooking than stove-top simmering. Broth cooked this way is very rich and gelatinous even before being fully chilled. Yum!

Anna said...

Ooooh, Fishy looks so snuggly. I can't wait to give him a big kiss! Now I gotta go check out those brownies...

Beth said...

Asian chicken salad with Napa cabbage and sesame oil seems to make a regular appearance here. We raise and butcher our own birds, so letting any of it go to waste is particularly sinful. If I don't have time to make stock I bag and freeze the bones and "stuff", then pull them out when I feel like making stock. I always crack the bones with a big cleaver to let the every bit of marrow into the broth.
I sometimes use a pressure cooker to make stock very fast, but that slow cooker method from againstthegrain sounds like something I must try!

Tara said...

I seem to have a standard roast chicken routine (because we love it so much). Roast the bird and have that for dinner, pick the carcass, make chicken salad (much like yours) with the leftovers and stock from the bones. We also raise our own chickens, and when we have to butcher a number of older hens or extra roosters, I'll make a huge batch of stock and can it. Tough, old rooster makes THE BEST STOCK - rich, dark and delicious!

outoftheblue said...

Lately I have finally matured into making my own chicken stock .. and while many of you will scoff at this, I'm feeling pretty good about myself. We all advance at different rates, yes?

One of my favorite things to do with the day-after heavenly roast chicken dinner (shallots, garlic/herb butter under the skin, white wine) is a decadent mac & cheese with spinach. I think it is from a Sara Foster market cookbook.

It is rich and so very tasty, and -- no surprise -- not for the dieting diner.


As I write this, I can smugly confess that my latest batch of chicken stock is on the stove; yesterday's mac & cheese for the preschool-set Easter Egg Decorating Party is gone, gone, gone.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.