Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Foundation

I make this once every week or so.  We use it in all of our soups, stews, and rice dishes and sometimes just add a little salt and drink it straight up.  It has been THE lynchpin in our overall health.  I use the recipe from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions and while it takes some considerable cooking time it is well worth the effort:

1 stewing hen or carcass from leftover chicken*
Feet/extra back/neck/head (s)--also available at Marin Sun Farms at the Sunday Civic Center Market or check with your butcher.  At the least he'll have some backs for you.  All of these parts are high in gelatin and are what makes the stock so good for you.
1 onion chopped in large chunks
2 carrots chopped in thirds
3 celery sticks chopped in thirds
4 quarts cold water
2 Tbsp. distilled vinegar
1 bunch Parsley (added at the last 10 min. of cooking time to impart important mineral ions)
Sea Salt to taste

Combine everything except parsley in a large stainless stock pot.  Let sit on stove for 30 min. to 1 hour. Bring to a boil and remove any scum that has floated to the top.  Reduce heat and cover and simmer for 6 to 24 hours.  If  you have qualms about leaving your stove on for so long, you can transfer everything into a large slow cooker (at least 7 qts.) and let it go on low for up to 24 hours.  At the end, add the parsley and let go for 10 more minutes.  Strain everything into a large bowl, reserving chicken meat if a whole chicken is used, and reserve in the refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and congeals. 
Skim off this fat and discard.  Reserve stock in smaller containers in the refrigerator or freezer.  Clear stock will keep 5 days in the refrigerator and several months in the freezer.

Quick Stock

If in a bind and you need to get some soup in you STAT you can use ORGANIC free range chicken stock and add 1 tsp. of gelatin (unflavored) per pint.  Bring to a boil then proceed with your recipe.

*Notes on Chicken
I get the feet and heads at Marin Sun Farms at the Sunday Civic Center Market--they have something they call a "stock pack" and they also sell necks separately too.  I try to call ahead by Thursday and see if they have stewing hens too so I can pick them up all at once.  When using the stewing hens you don't want to eat the meat after, it's kind of stringy.  When I use regular roasting hens, I typically roast the chicken for dinner that night and get a couple of extra chicken backs (from any butcher, organic if you can get them, they're happy to sell them to you and they are pretty cheap--one or 2 is plenty for the stock) and then throw the carcass in with the rest of the stuff for the stock. 

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