I love roasting whole chickens; I don’t love eating whole chickens. Once I get past eating the breast meat (invariably with soft polenta and arugula salad) and shredding the thigh meat for enchiladas and quesadillas (an essential toddler food group), I’m kind of over it.
This is, of course, ridiculous because (1) wings and legs are delicious, and (2) it’s profoundly, horrendously wasteful. Not so, however, if you cook up a batch of homemade stock with all of those unwanted bits. Making chicken stock is embarrassingly easy, so much so that once you’ve gotten the hang of it you will quietly curse yourself every time you’re without and have to snag a box of Swanson’s.
And what, you ask, are you to do with all of this liquid chicken-y goodness?
- Make soup. (Duh.) The most obvious use for homemade stock, making soup with your fresh batch of stock is a no-brainer. The arrival of fall always makes me crave Joanne’s Weir’s Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup.
- Make homemade risotto. On a weeknight. Really! Risotto just doesn’t need to be complicated, especially when you’re starting with a superstar ingredient like homemade stock. This Mark Bittman recipe makes it all as low-key as possible. Extra-credit: have your kids help! The regular stirring makes it engaging enough to hold your child’s attention, and developing mastery of (and respect for) a hot stove goes a long way toward building your child’s self esteem.
- Make a REAL pot of beans. Once you taste beans cooked from scratch, canned beans will forever make your mouth sad. That isn’t to say I don’t use canned beans all the time, because, please, but when I have the time and energy it’s the only way to go. (And if you’re in the market for excellent dried beans, Rancho Gordo’s are just beyond.)
- Step up your baby food game. Pureed carrots < carrots pureed with a splash of homemade chicken stock. (But please be sure to consult with your pediatrician before changing up junior’s diet!)
- Start your Thanksgiving prep NOW. Decrease the holiday kitchen drudgery by freezing homemade stock now for moistening stuffing and making turkey gravy. Looks like somebody just scored some extra time snuggling in front of a roaring fire with a gin & tonic in hand. Brava!