Before Rachael Ray and even before Alton Brown… But after Julia Child… And somewhere around the time of Graham Kerr (But I am digressing with the foodie timeline), there was JEFF SMITH… THE Frugal Gourmet.
His catch phrase, “Frugal doesn’t mean cheap. Frugal means that you don’t waste anything.” is becoming a way of life for me. I love the Virgin Isles, but it is not cheap. So, frugal to eat better is my new catch phrase. I don’t mind paying for a premium ingredient, but I will use it all. And by stretching the food I do buy, I can fit more in my food budget.
Chicken stock is now a weekly project. In reality, it takes all of 10 minutes total out of my day to make. Is virtually free, as you are using ingredients many of us toss in the garbage. It has the added benefit of being noticeably better quality than the store bought.
Back on my site, I have been extolling the virtues of the store bought rotisserie chicken. Here on the island, a raw whole chicken starts at $10. But I can buy a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken for only $6. Makes no sense to me, and I have not heard a viable explanation yet. I have gotten pretty good at making dishes from teh pre=cooked chicken other than a sandwich. I even started a sidebar link for What to do with a Rotisserie Chicken. Since landing, I have made a dozen batches of stock from my beloved cheap rotisserie birds. It lasts in the fridge for a week, and saves big…
One more example and then on to the technique… A big can of chicken broth is $4.79. The stores I regularly shop at do not even keep cans of chicken stock on their shelves to compare prices. I get at least the same amount of stock from one bird as is in the can. Making my chicken cost a buck and a quarter.
Can not be easier… Buy a rotisserie chicken. Sam’s Club, Costco, Wal-Mart, and many neighborhood stores make and sell them same day fresh. Eat everything you can from the bones of the bird. BUT, save the bones. If you do not eat the skin from the bird… Save the skin. Make one final hack at the bird (I can always get enough to make a chicken omelet for breakfast).
Then, drop the carcass in a large pot. You can use a crock pot if you have one. I add one gallon of water. Get the water to simmer. Not a fast boil, just a gentle simmer. Then, I add whatever vegetables are close to going south. I never add fresh veggies, just the ones that are on the down side of fresh. I eat carrot sticks, so I always have a few carrots to toss in. An onion, even a potato or bell pepper will help to flavor the stock. Celery, I have even plopped a lemon or lime into the mix. Why not???
This is a great excuse to cull out the veggie drawer once a week. I am not saying to use veggies that are already bad (you know), but if they are a little soft, fine… Chop a bit and toss in.
When you use a rotisserie bird, no need to add any seasonings (especially if you do not eat the skin). there is plenty of salt and pepper on the bird as it is.
Total time for all this… 10 minutes.
The rest of the day, go about your business. Eat some bon-bons, catch up with what’s happening on All My Children, change some diapers or read a book. the simmering pot does all the work. Simmer uncovered, as you are reducing the stock to 1/2 gallon. It has the benefit of making your kitchen smell AMAZING! Some days I make stock and bake bread on the same day. That is a day to just stand at your stove and breath as deep as you can!
About 4 or 5 hours later, run the broth through a metal strainer, now, salute your bird and toss the veggies and chicken bones. Their job is done. The stock is easily stored (once cooled) in a ziplock freezer bag. You could store in 1 cup quantities in smaller bags). I have even heard of people making stock ice cubes in ice cube trays. Me, I always seem to use my 1/2 gallon in a week, so I just store in the fridge waiting for next week’s batch.
Last night, I made some cashew chicken using a fresh batch of stock. I also made some Chinese noodles that I boiled in a 50/50 mix of water and a cup of last week’s stock (finished that bag off, made room in the fridge for the fresh batch). The stock added quite a bit of extra taste to the noodles.
I could have used water in both recipes. It is amazing what you will and can do with stock when you have a free batch sitting in the fridge. And just wait to see the difference it makes in your meals.
Be a cook.
Make your own stock, stretch a dollar, add more flavor to your food.
Dave here from MY YEAR ON THE GRILL. It really is just this easy! 10 minutes hands on effort, you get to clean out your fridge of questionable veggies without wasting them. And the results will show the rest of the week. You will be a noticeably better cook.
… I CAN COOK THAT!
…Anyone can!!! And anyone can make this winner…