Saturday, May 05, 2012

Taking stock

I have written in so-soooo long that Blogger changed their/its interface since the last time I wrote. Look, I like technological advances as much as the next person, but sometimes I like things to stay the same, particularly if the NEW version doesn't really do much more for me than the old version did. Harumph.

Anywho, funnily enough, I was NOT going to write about Blogger when I started this post! No, I was going to write about chicken stock! (Didn't see that one coming, didya?)

You see, because I am a Martha in training (AHEM!), I am always on the lookout for a new and different way to prepare chicken. Yeah right! BUT since I am my mother's daughter, I really am always on the lookout for a way to do something more quickly and more easily, particularly when it comes to cooking. Faster and easier is my motto. Or it should be.

Well. At my local discount grocer the other day, they had small chickens on sale for .69 a pound. And since I have a rule that I will always buy meat that is cheaper than $1 a pound no matter what it is and because I am a bit of a food hoarder for no good reason, I bought three. They were small! Actually, the only reason I only got three was because I only had barely enough room for two in the freezer (very small, very packed freezer, once again) and I thought I would just cook the other one up right a way. Great idea!

One small problem: I have never cooked a whole chicken before. I know, it's pathetic, but I like my whole chickens to be cooked by someone else on a giant rotisserie so I've gotten away with not doing it. I mean, I've done loads of whole turkeys, which one would think would be more intimidating, but no, this tiny little bird stymied me right away as soon as I got home and started to think about it. I looked at several recipes, was shocked at how little time it actually takes to roast a chicken (an hour to an hour and a half--who knew?), and quickly decided I wasn't prepared to roast this bird today.

The next day, however, I knew I needed to come up with a plan or lose my chicken, so I pondered some more and vaguely remembered hearing that one could roast a chicken in a slow cooker. A quick check with Google led me to this recipe which I then followed, more or less (no onion powder). Of course, this being me, I didn't start this process until 4pm but, right on time, just as the kids were going to bed at 8:30, I had a yummy smelling, perfectly cooked chicken to quickly debone and store in the refrigerator.

Heady with my success, I decided to use the carcass to make stock. I looked at the recipe again, followed the link to her stock recipe, decided I had very few of the ingredients she called for, and plunged ahead anyway, as is my wont in the kitchen. To my delicious smelling crock pot I added two carrots, the stalks of a handful of asparagus, a generous handful of dried onions, and enough water to fill the pot. I put the slow cooker on low and went to bed as instructed by the recipe I had otherwise not followed at all.

The next morning, my house smelled even better, so I strained the liquid through the finest strainer I had, which wasn't very fine at all, really. I think it came from the dollar store and may have been a bath toy at one point. I then put the bowl full of stock into the fridge to cool so I could skim off some fat and then decide how to store it all.

And here's where my domestic aspirations ran into another snag. Everyone I read said "oh, just store it in the freezer, and you can use it whenever you want!" which is a great idea, if you have lots of freezer space for the freezing and the storing. Which I don't. So I settled on muffin tins filled with almost a half cup of stock each, but then I had to find a way to balance a full muffin tin in my freezer, no small feat. Yes, there was some stock splashed onto the back of the freezer but hey, it froze instantly! Hooray! And I froze my first muffin tin and ended up with 12 1/2 cup portions of stock and then froze another muffin tin for 12 more portions and now I have close to 12 cups of chicken stock stored in my freezer. I'm sure it will taste fabulous when I use it in my next recipe but right now, the stock has TAKEN OVER! There is an overabundance of stock, I tell you, and I'm not sure what all those portions are doing in there while I'm not looking! Surely Martha doesn't have these kinds of rebellions on her hands when she makes stock!! This is why I am not domestic goddess material, people. My food revolts! Ah, hahahahaha! And my puns disgust unwittingly!

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