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Just like everyone else, I’ve got the economy on my mind.  Now, there will be no doom and gloom in this post I can assure you, but I’ve just been thinking about ways to save money in the kitchen.  An easy way to do this in my opinion is to use the food items that you buy for more than one dinner or menu item.  Not a new idea, but certainly one worth trying out. 

I’ve spoken with my Mom many times in the past in how my grandmother (on the Italian side) would boil the bones down from a chicken or roast to create stock or she would add bones to the sauce (tomato sauce) to add rich flavor; leftover rice was made into arancini (rice balls); leftover potatoes were formed into patties to make a type of croquette; and even leftover breadcumbs and beaten egg were combined and pan-fried into little bread patties.  Ok, you get my point.  But there’s a lot we can learn when we borrow from our grandparents and how they used to mazimize the money they spent on their meals.  Money was definately tight for my parents and their families.

I wanted to share the idea of making your own stock.  A couple of benefits (before you roll your eyes):  1) For the most part, you throw everything into the pot and let it simmer while you go onto other things 2) You know exactly what’s going into your homemade stock (no yucky fillers or things you can’t pronounce and 3) you can freeze your stock in one quart containers for lots of uses down the road.  Are you sold??

december-2008-112Chicken Stock

Ingredients

1 chicken or leftover whole chicken carcass

10-15 sprigs fresh thyme

1 bunch fresh asparagus

1 1lb bag baby carrots or 5 whole carrots, washed

5 celery stalks, leaves left on

2 yellow onions, quartered

1 head of garlic, top sliced off

8 black peppercorns

1 tbsp kosher or coarse salt

Method

Place the chicken, vegetables, herbs, garlic, salt and pepper into  7-quart stock pot.  Fill to top, leaving the top 2 inches.  Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 4 hours.  Strain the contents of the pot using a stainless steel colander and discard all of the solids, except for the chicken*.  Chill the stock overnight, covered with plastic wrap in refrigerator.  Pick through chicken and add pieces to a zipper top storage bag.  Be careful to watch for tiny bones.

In the morning, skim the fat off of the surface and then store stock into freezer-safe containers or zipper top freezer bags.  Label and date containers (or bags).  Freeze for up to 3 months.

*I use the leftover chicken to make chicken noodle soup.  This is because once my husband comes home and smells the aroma of the simmering chicken stock, he generally starts looking for a bowl of chicken noodle soup.

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