I’ve always saved and reused various things for as long as I can remember. Fabric scraps, broken jewelry, tissue paper (the wrapping kind of course!), all have found new lives within my home.
So it should come as no surprise that I follow this philosophy in my kitchen as well. But how can you reuse food? My favorite way is by making homemade chicken stock.
I like to call this, trash stock :). I never buy ingredients specifically to make it – it’s all the leftover pieces from those things you usually just chuck in the garbage disposal. Except you save them in a storage bag in your freezer.
Cut the end off of an onion? Bag it. Chopping carrots? Bag the end piece. Have the root end or leafy tip of celery? Bag it. Never know what to do with those remaining stems of herbs? Bag em.
Now, you know how you buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store in a pinch ( or just because it’s delicious)? Don’t toss the leftover carcass (that is a terrible word isn’t it?). Bag, bag it up!
I just put these scrap pieces in a gallon storage bag in my freezer until it’s full (sometimes I accumulate two bags worth). Then, when I have a Sunday afternoon I make my homemade stock – out of leftovers y’all.
And let me tell you, this makes the most delicious base for chili, chicken noodle soup, egg drop – anywhere you’d use stock or even broth if you adjust your recipe.
While making your own chicken stock from scratch may seem complicated if you are used to buying the pre-made stuff (and can I tell you – I use that too), the way I make mine is really quite simple and requires very little involvement with the process.
After accumulating enough scraps, dump them out of the freezer bag into a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil (I don’t measure, just wing it), and sprinkle with salt and pepper (not too much). Place into a 450-degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until the scraps start to turn golden and fragrant. We are trying to extract flavor here!
Place the roasted bones and veggies into a stock pot (or if you don’t have one, use a dutch oven, like I do). Pour 12 cups of cold water over the bones, add in a palmful of whole peppercorns, and throw in a couple of bay leaves. Bring to a boil on high. After bringing to a boil, lower the heat (between medium and between low and med depending on your stove, you just want it to simmer).
After doing some research, I realize that the next part I’m going to tell you is a little scandalous. I don’t skim and scum/foam off the surface of my stock. There are two reasons for that. 1). I like to keep things simple and 2). Not a lot of junk develops on this. I’ve found that the roasting cuts down on that. If you want your stock to be super clear, and not have any cloudy spots, feel free to skim any scum every 30 minutes or so. If you’re like me, and would rather this be a simple way to reuse your scraps, and only care that this makes your soups and stews freaking delicious, then just let it simmer for 4 hours.
After the 4 hours, strain with a mesh strainer. Let cool to room temperature, then store however you prefer. If you’re using it soon, just cover and place in the fridge. If you’re not, then my favorite method of storage is placing it in icecube trays and freezing. This makes it easy to pull out what you need to use (I’ve found that my ice cube trays each hold about 2 tbsp of stock). I recently used some frozen stock to make this amazing butternut squash soup!
This is perfect for busy times like these where you want a quick meal, but are craving something comforting. Maybe some chili and baked potatoes this week in between last minute shopping and tacky sweater parties? Hope everyone is having an amazing holiday season! What are your favorite ways to cut down on waste in your kitchen?