I never thought I’d find myself at age 26, getting excited about chicken stock. But here I am, 26, and I’m excited about chicken stock. There is something a little thrilling about making something nutritious out of nearly nothing. Here’s what you need. Chicken bones, veggie cast-offs, water, and vinegar. That’s it.
But if you’re like me a few years ago, you’re thinking, “Right, where am I going to get chicken bones? They don’t have those in the boneless skinless chicken breast box. That’s why I buy them. Because they don’t resemble an actual animal.” Believe me, I get it. The closest I used to get to buying meat with bones was chicken drumsticks. I still have a long way to go, I’ve never butchered a chicken and I’m not sure I could yet, but I can deal with a raw, headless one just fine now. I think it’s important to know where your food comes from. If you’re squeamish about that white meat having once been a furry chick, what in the world are you doing putting it in your mouth? That said, God gave us dominion over the earth and gave us animals to be used for food. Thank you Lord, I really do like meat.
So if I never bought chicken with meat, how did I get bones to make stock? It’s called a sale, and I’m a sucker for one. Sobeys had this BOGO deal on last year that was like, “Buy one package of chicken breasts with the back attached, get one free.” It was cheaper than buying them without the bones, so I figured I could be adventurous and try. I froze them and would pull them out as I needed, taking the breasts off and either using the bones up right away, or freezing them for later. Or just take the scraps from your cooked deli chicken and use those. When you’re feeling really adventurous, buy yourself a raw chicken and roast it yourself. Yum!
Now, what do I mean by veggie cast-offs? You know when you’re cutting carrots and you cut the stem end off and throw it in the garbage or compost? Save it. Celery leaves and ends? Save them. Onion skins? Save them. I got this tip from my sister Sherry, and it is golden. I keep a ziploc bag in the freezer, and anytime I have any veggie bits that would be good for flavouring stock, I throw them in the bag. When I’ve got a bag full of veg that would have normally just ended up as waste, and I’ve got chicken bones, I throw them into a pot, cover them with water, add a generous 1/4 cup of vinegar (it helps draw all the nutrients out of your chicken bones), and let it simmer on the stove all afternoon.
Voila! You’ve got stock for soup. Make soup that evening, or freeze it for later. Freeze it in ice cube trays for making sauces, freeze them in small bags with the equivalent of a can of stock, or freeze it in a big bag to make a big pot of soup with later.
I love hints and tips about frugal living. What are some things you do to make the food budget stretch a little farther?