Recipe for Relaxation

December 15, 2007


I’m in the middle of law school final exams.  My second-to-last set of final exams (I graduate in the spring) ever.  With a final on Thursday night and Friday morning of last week, our kitchen didn’t see a whole lot of action.  Add in a holiday party here and a night of running errands there, and the kitchen was downright neglected this week.


So, when my final was over yesterday morning, I did the only natural thing.  No, I did not head straight to a bar, to bed or back to the books, like most law students would do.  Rather, I headed into the neglected kitchen.  I was greeted by some pretty meager refrigerator contents and an intense urge to create something.  The leftover chicken carcass from our Hanukkah dinner and some veggies that were just this side of being tossed in the garbage spoke to me: chicken stock.


It was the perfect way to ease out of an intense week of studying and into the weekend (which, of course will contain more studying, but still — it’s the weekend).   I’ve skimmed enough recipes in the past to get the gist of making chicken stock—throw veggies (usually carrots and onions, but leeks, celery or parsnips can’t hurt), herbs (thyme, bay leaves, etc) and some seasoning (I always roll my eyes at the recipes that call for “20 black peppercorns”) into a gigantic pot with a chicken carcass or parts.  Fill the pot with enough water to cover the contents and set it a-simmering for four hours.  In less than a half an hour, I had put the kitchen back to use and had the house smelling savory and delicious.  Then, it was back to the books.

Chicken Stock 

1 carcass of roasted chicken, picked pretty clean
1 carrot, cut into roughly 2 inch chunks
1 leek (white and light green parts), cut into roughly 2 inch chunks and rinsed well
1 onion, peeled and quartered
5 to 10 sprigs Italian flat-leaf parsley
5 to 10 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 head of garlic, split lengthwise (to expose the cloves)
20 (or so) peppercorns
4 quarts of water, or enough to cover the ingredients in the stock pot 

Place all the ingredients into a large stock pot or dutch oven.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Turn the heat down to simmer.  After about 30 minutes of simmering, skim off the foam from the top of the liquid.  Continue to simmer for three and a half hours. 


Set a strainer in a large bowl.  Pour the contents of the pot through the strainer and into the bowl.  Discard the contents of the strainer.  Allow the stock to come to room temperature (I’ve seen recipes call for an ice bath here, for quicker cooling).  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night. 


The next day, skim off any congealed fat from the top of the stock (it worked well to do this with a small strainer, which I used sort of like a spider here).  Place the liquid into containers and refrigerate (for use within a couple days) or freeze.


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