October 25, 2013

Euna Mae's Boiled Chicken & Homemade Chicken Stock

So I heard from several of you that you're never gonna stick your hand inside the skin of a raw chicken like yesterday's oven-roasted chicken recipe requires. And I guessed I'd hear that from some of you! So here's an optional, delicious simmered chicken that yields the richest homemade stock that you can use for soups, stews, pastas, bakes and more! 

This method is the one I use the absolute most.  And you will looooove the way your kitchen smells all day long! This recipe requires no 'rubbing' your chicken, and it's very hands-off. I get kids off to school, and I drop everything in a pot around 10am. Then it cooks aaaallll day. You do not want to cook the chicken for anything less than 4 hours, but I just let it go til I'm ready to start makin' supper. 

Once you've pulled the chicken out of the pot and drain the stock, it leaves the most unbelievably flavorful stock that you can use or even freeze for later. Just this week, when I made this chicken, I kept the stock in the pot and made homemade dumplins. Mmmmm. I stirred in about half of the pulled chicken, and I stored the rest of the meat in the refrigerator for soup this coming weekend! In the past, I've cooked and pulled the chicken for enchiladas, and I froze the stock because I wasn't using it for that particular meal. 

So good. So fresh. So resourceful. And easy!

I'm giving y'all this recipe on a Friday so you have the weekend to make your stock and pull some chicken. Because over the next few weeks, we're using both to make some of my all-time favorite comfort dishes!

 -hands-on time approximately 10 minutes plus 4-7 hours cook-time-

* you may wish to double this recipe to shore up your stock inventory or if you need more chicken to feed a small army
*for one chicken, use a deep 7-8 qt. pot; for two chickens, use a 10-12 qt. stock pot.
*one 5lb. chicken yields enough pulled meat for a very hearty pan of chicken enchiladas OR it can be divided into two portions for soups or other dishes where the chicken isn't the starring role. 
 *the amount of stock varies depending on how big your pot is, how much of the liquid cooks down etc. 

 1- 5lb. whole chicken thawed
4 cloves of garlic
2 medium carrots, cut in half to fit inside the pot
2 yellow onions, quartered 
3 ribs of celery, cut in half to fit inside the pot
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of fresh thyme (do not substitute with dried thyme. please.)
 1 Tbsp. whole peppercorns
1 tablespoon salt

Rinse the chicken and place in the bottom of a deep, 7-8 qt. heavy pot with a lid. Place the vegetables in the pot along with the thyme, peppercorns, and salt. It is not necessary to peel the vegetables - just drop em in! Fill the pot with water leaving about 2 inches to allow for boiling.
Over medium+ heat, bring uncovered pot just to a boil; reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover the pot with the lid, leaving a teeny crack to allow steam to escape. Then let it simmer on low for at least 3-4 hours. I let mine go as long as 6-7 hours if needed, either with the heat turned all the way down to its lowest OR turned off completely and just sitting there to cool for an hour.  The liquid/stock will cook down a bit and will turn a beautiful golden; it is okay if the stock cooks down exposing the top part of the chicken. You may also choose to add a little more water if you wish.

 -hands-on time approximately 30 minutes-

Using two large spoons, move the chicken to a cutting board with a juice moat. (I'll have heirloom farmhouse maple cutting boards with juice moats for sale at the Euna Mae's booth at the NWA Boutique Show November 8-9.)  Move the chicken to the cutting board the best way you know how. It WILL fall apart into all kinds of pieces, literally the meat separates from the bones. 
You should be so tickled about that! Yum.

With a fine mesh strainer over a big bowl, pour the stock through the strainer, allowing it to catch the vegetables and letting the strained stock pour into the bowl. I use a big bowl with a pour spout. (see picture) Discard the cooked vegetables.

While the stock is cooling down a little, pick the meat from the bones. You may pick the chicken into bites or leave the largest pieces for whatever your recipe requires. Nibble a few bites....trust me! Use or store the meat in the refrigerator. 

Going back to the bowl of stock that should've cooled a little, carefully use a non-slotted spoon or ladle to skim off as much fat from the top of the broth as you can. You may also lay a paper towel across the top of the broth to soak up the top layer of liquid where the fat floats. If you're using the stock immediately, return to the pot and continue with your recipe.


 If you're storing the stock, allow to cool to room temperature. Pour into freezer-safe canning jars with lids, leaving an inch or so for expanding. Refrigerate the stock overnight, remove lids and carefully skim the fat that will have congealed at the top. Tightly replace lids. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Store in the freezer for up to 2 months.
The picture below is a shows the yield from a doubled recipe using 2 chickens and a 12qt. stock pot.