If a trial lawyer was going to make a case for home cooking being the fundamental source of healthy eating and real nutrition, chicken stock would be the star witness. For close to a katrillion years, meat and vegetables have been added to water, simmered and used for a multitude of food applications; soups, stews, rice dishes and more have all been getting packed with flavor and essential nutrients from these stocks and broths. But like most of our food innovations, boxed stock has changed the game. Convenience at least for now, is king. But nothing can stand up to a homemade version. And when you realize how simple it is, and just how lucrative the process can be, you won’t even have to factor in the health benefits to be convinced.
As Jamie Oliver attempts to show in his “Food Revolution”, being aware of how your food is made, and where it comes from is the crux of healthy eating. It’s not that I won’t eat McDonald’s chicken nuggets. I’m not nuts! But since seeing how they were made, I’ve certainly eaten less of them. Well, when you take your whole chicken (try and buy the local, free roaming bird for flavor if nothing else), along with the essential aromatics (onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and parsley), cover with cold water in a soup pot and bring to a simmer, there is no question where your stock is coming from.
And it’s the ultimate Sunday task. You can set this up in a matter of minutes and let it go on med/low heat. I have found that the best broth comes from the following. After an hour of simmering, remove the chicken and pull the meat off with two forks. You will be thrilled when you see how much meat you have for future meals: chicken salad, quesadillas, pasta dishes, etc. Throw the bones back into the pot and simmer for a few more hours. Strain the stock and throw it in the fridge, sealed and ready to be used.
I’m saving the bulk of my stock for my favorite chicken soup (I’ll be posting later this week), but it’s just amazing how much you will have to work with. And when you break down the $15 dollars worth of ingredients, the price compared to the boxed variety is just about the same/volume. Plus you’ll love how many ways you find to use it. Case in point: I used my stock for this amazing Paella later that night. Some of the shredded chicken meat along with a handful of clams and bunch of veggies was all it took for this amazing one pot rice dish. But it was the homemade stock that pushed this meal over the top. The flavor was just unbeatable.
So what’s the point? Well, there are many ways to become more connected with your food. And there may not be a better way than making homemade chicken stock.