Chicken Stock: A Versatile Kitchen Staple

Chicken Stock: A Versatile Kitchen Staple
by KC Kudra

When the weather turns cold, our thoughts turn to comfort food. Soup is one of the most popular comfort foods all over the world. Every culture has their own version, and many of them use chicken stock.

Every kitchen should have chicken stock. It can be used in so many different dishes that you need to keep some on hand, either homemade or store-bought. Stock and broth are not the same thing, although most people use whichever one they have on hand when cooking. Stock is created from bones, while broth is created from meat. Bony parts of the chicken like wingtips, necks, and backbones make the best stock.

You see the true difference between stock and broth by how it reacts in a dish. Since stock is created from bones, it contains gelatin. Broth does not. These gelatins make a richer flavor and can help bind ingredients together in a recipe. The amount of gelatin you find in a stock will depend greatly on how much the liquid has been reduced.

Very Simple

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It is very easy to make your own flavorful stock. Take a large pot and fill it with water. Add the leftover bones from a roast chicken or just plop in a whole raw chicken. Warm the water slowly and let it simmer for at least three hours. Strain out the bones and add some traditional vegetables like celery or carrots to add more flavor. Simmer the vegetables until they have given all they have and then remove them. Cool your stock in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, remove the layer of fat that has formed on the top. Use the stock immediately or freeze it for later.

Top Stock Recommendations

The first thing most people think of when using stock is making soup. Make anything from a vegetable chicken soup to an easy chicken tortilla soup. Simply add the ingredients you want to create the flavors you love.

Stock also makes incredible rice. Whether you are just making plain rice or a risotto, using stock will make a big difference in the final product. Use it when making couscous as well for a flavorful alternative.

Take an ice cube tray and freeze some small cubes of stock. This lets you use just a little when you need a bit of flavor and moisture when heating leftover casseroles, vegetables, or stir-fries. Take one and use it to baste your roasted chicken, pork, or beef. The stock adds moisture and flavor to the meal.

Stock can also be used to saut your vegetables. Add the same amount of stock that you would normally use in oil. Just watch your food carefully since unlike oil, the stock will evaporate during cooking. Use some to deglaze your pan after frying chicken or other meats to make a tasty gravy or sauce. Stock is very versatile.

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