Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dutch Oven Chicken Recipes, Part IV

Dutch Oven Chicken Stock

This one's not really a recipe. It's more of a process that I go through whenever I do a roast chicken recipe. You're always left with this big hulking skeleton carcass, and what do you do with it? It's still got little chunks of meat on it that you couldn't get off with the carving knife, and you can't just leave it on the table and piece on it all night... It's nice to get just a little bit more out of the bird before it's all thrown away.

Here's what I do.

First, I usually just put it away for the night. If I've been cooking all day, as much fun as that is, I'm not up to cooking more. I'll wrap it up and put it in the fridge.

Then, the next day, I'll put it back in the dutch oven with about 8 or so cups of water. I'll put that on on some coals (usually 15-20), with the lid on, and let it boil. Once the coals start dying down, I'll just replenish them bit by bit, enough to keep it simmering, but it doesn't have to be boiling hard. Today, when I did this, I let it simmer for a couple of hours.

Then, when it's all done, I'll bring it in, and let it cool just a bit. I'm going to be working with it, and I don't want to burn myself in the process.

Much of the meat will have either boiled off the bones, or will be so loose that it's pretty easy to pull off with a fork. So, I'll start by cleaning off as much as I want, and scooping that out with a slotted spoon. That'll make a great chicken soup. Or sandwiches. Or enchiladas, or...

Now, I don't have a fancy strainer, or a filter, or anything like that. So, today I started by spooning off as much of the floating fat stuff as I could. Then, I got my baster out. I'd dip the tip down below the remaining fat and floating herbs level and suck up a tubefull, and empty that into a big measuring cup we have. I kept doing that until it was all done. The remaining fat, slime, and other solids got thrown away with the bones.

I let the measuring cup sit a little longer, just to let more fat separate out, and did the same game with the baster again. Only this time, I put the broth into sandwich-size ziplock baggies, and then into my freezer. I could get about 2 cups into each baggie. That'll be just about right to make some rice or start up a soup.

It's kinda cool to be able to get your own stock when a chicken recipe calls for it, or to get the right flavoring to start some other recipe. I like the way it carries with it some of the spices of the chicken recipe you cooked.

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