My husband, FHE, is a big guy. Over the years, friends and strangers have asked my 5’0″ tall mother-in-law, “how’d he grow so big?” She laughs and responds without hesitation, “lots of skim milk and chicken stock.” A little simplified, yes. But my MIL is a nutritionist by training and, she points out, there are no studies that refute the benefits of either for development and overall health. So, ostensibly, with little to lose and much to gain, I offer copious amounts of both to Rice Kernel.
Offering does not equate to consumption, however. Despite my best efforts, my son doesn’t care for milk. (At this point, I’ve resolved that he will get his requisite daily amounts of calcium and vitamin D from the cheese and yogurt he inhales.) So if Rice Kernel ain’t gonna grow on milk like his Daddy, we’re gonna have to hedge our bets on chicken stock alone.
Now, I say chicken stock, not broth, because my MIL is also quick to underscore the nutritional importance of a chicken’s bony parts – parts that are included in stock but not broth. As a result, stock contains added minerals and broken down material from cartilage and tendons – things like chondroitin and glucosamine, which many people take as nutritional supplements. From a purely gastronomic standpoint, chicken stock tends to have a fuller mouth feel and richer flavor, also due to the gelatin released by long-simmering bones.
On a nutritional level, my MIL’s message may or may not persuade you to trade in the store-bought carton for a homeade batch. So I appeal to you from a flavor standpoint: Next time you’re making risotto, cooking rice, making soup, preparing a sauce, or braising vegetables consider using homemade stock as the base. Nothing will add depth and richness like stock. Trust me, you’ll reward yourself and your guests with a better tasting meal.
- 1 3-4 lb chicken, preferably organic (gizzards, necks, wings and all)
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into chunks
2 ribs celery, cut into chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 bay leaf
Several sprigs of fresh thyme
Several sprigs of fresh parsley
- Place chicken in a large stock pot.
- Add cold water to cover chicken generously. (Cold water helps extract more collagen, giving the stock more body.)
- Bring pot to a simmer over high heat, then skim any foam/scum that may have accumulated on the surface with a ladle and reduce the heat to low.
- Continue to cook at a bare simmer for 2 to 3 hours, skimming any remaining foam during the first 30 minutes.
- Strain through a coarse sieve and cool for 2 hours.
- Refrigerate until chilled. The chicken fat will coagulate on top once the stock is cold. Remove with a spoon and discard.
- Store up in refrigerator for 2 to 3 days or freeze up to 2 months.