Tag Archives: chicken

Chicken (or Turkey, or Duck, or Veal, or…) Stock

Before I started cooking, I considered broth and stock to be pretty much interchangeable. It’s only been fairly recently that I’ve realized there is a difference. The consensus seems to be that broth is made with meat, while stock is made with bones. Broth is suitable to be served as-is (to someone with a cold, for example). Stock, on the other hand, is usually used to make other things. Broth cooks quickly, while stock takes a long time to cook. If you put a whole chicken in a pot of water and boil it for an hour or so until the chicken is done, you have broth. If you roast a chicken, eat it, and then put the bones into a pot of water and simmer it for several hours, you have stock.

Some of the differences seem to run a bit deeper, but this seems to be a good place to start. The other thing that I should point out is that stock is insanely useful, and you should make some!

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First, you need some bones. Whenever we have chicken or turkey, we almost always save the bones. (The exception is when the chicken was used in something really spicy that could bring an off flavour to the stock.) When I roast a chicken or we barbeque some chicken breasts, the bones go into a freezer bag and into the freezer. Once we have enough bones to fill our stock pot, we’ll wait until a slow Sunday afternoon and make stock.

The good stock at the grocery store can run up to $3.50 or more for a quart, and it’s always over-salted. Making your own stock at home, using stuff that you would have just thrown away, can represent some significant savings.

Plus, you can store it in quantities that make sense to you. Rather than buying a quart of stock and only using a cup, you can store your homemade stock in one, two, or four cup quantities. We typically do a mixture of these sizes: one cup bags are used for sauces, two cup bags are used for rice, quinoa or other grains, and four cup bags are used for risotto or soup. Measure the amount you want into a labeled freezer bag, press out the air, and place on a baking sheet. The bag will freeze flat, which makes it a cinch to store.

More frozen assets.

This “recipe” is more of a formula than a measured recipe. Adjust to your liking and what you have available. To make your own stock, you will need:

  • Roasted bones from poultry, beef or veal (Collect enough to fill up your largest pot.)
  • Old vegetables (Traditionally this is mireproix – carrots, celery and onion – but you can use any flavourful vegetables you have on hand.)
  • Water

Put the roasted bones into your largest pot. (When we made stock from the carcass of our 22lb Thanksgiving turkey, we used my water canner.) Add the vegetables, cut into large chunks. Cover everything with water and bring to a boil.

Once the water is boiling, lower the heat until it just simmers. Keep an eye on the stock. If foam forms on the surface of the stock, skim it off and discard. Let the stock simmer for several hours. The longer it simmers, the more gelatin and goodness will leech out of the bones and into your stock.

After several hours, remove from heat. Place a large bowl into the sink, and put a colander inside the bowl. (If you want really clear stock you can line the colander with cheesecloth, but that’s a bit too fussy for me.) Pour the stock through the colander into the bowl. Remove the colander, and discard the bones and vegetables. Use or freeze the stock as desired.

Note: I do not add salt to my stock, although I will sometimes add a small handful of peppercorns. Since I usually don’t know what I’ll be using the stock for, I prefer not to salt the stock.

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Red Thai Curry Chicken

I admit that when I first moved to Canada my palate was pretty limited. Exotic meant Chinese, and Chinese meant chow mein and chicken balls. Japanese food was looked upon in suspicion because it sounded like it would be all fish, and Indian food was out of the question – too hot!

Fortunately, I married a man whose tastes were wide and varied, and I let him cook for me. Over time, he got me to eat a lot of different foods that I never would have considered before. One of the dishes that he made for me was his red Thai curry chicken.

Thai Curry Chicken

He’d been making this dish for a few years when I realized that I was slowly being conditioned. It is a spicy dish, but the spiciness can be altered based on how much curry paste you put into the sauce. When he started making the curry, he’d only put a smattering of curry paste in it. Gradually he increased the “dosage” until it was at full strength. Sure enough, I’d been habituated to eat much spicier food than I had been willing to try when we got married.

I’d sort of like to call this dish “Bachelor Thai Curry Chicken.” It’s not authentic by any stretch of the imagination, and a lot of the ingredients come out of a can. On the other hand, it’s quick (super quick if you do all the chopping the night before) and a bit of a crowd-pleaser. My instructions below are to serve the curry over couscous, which makes a really creamy base for the curry, but basmati rice or quinoa would work just as well.

You will need:

  • 1 pound of skinless, boneless chicken (I like breasts but you can use thighs, too)
  • 2 400ml (13.5 fl oz) cans coconut milk
  • 2 284g (10 fl oz) cans cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 227g (8oz) cans sliced bamboo
  • 1 227g (8oz) can sliced water chestnuts (optional)
  • 3 sweet bell peppers (we like using one each red, orange and yellow)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp curry paste (this amount makes a curry with medium to high heat; increase or decrease the amount of curry paste to your taste)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cups instant couscous

A note about the curry paste: you may need to do some experimentation to find a type you like that’s available in your area. In Winnipeg, all the major grocery stores carry the Thai Kitchen brand curry paste, which is what we use.

Seed the bell peppers and slice them into thin strips. Set aside.

Dice the chicken into bite-sized pieces.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is no longer pink inside.

Add mushroom soup and most of the coconut milk (retain about 1/2 cup). Stir to combine.

Mix the curry paste with the retained coconut milk. Mix it well and break up any lumps. (Even small lumps of curry paste can be a nasty surprise.) Add the curry and coconut milk mixture to the pan and stir.

Heat the chicken and sauce until the sauce is well combined and no longer lumpy. Stir in the sugar and fish sauce.

Add the sweet pepper strips and bamboo (and water chestnuts and baby corn, if using) to the pan. Stir.

Bring sauce to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Let cook until hot.

While the curry is heating through, bring two cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. When the water is boiling, add the instant couscous to the water. Remove from heat and cover. The couscous will be ready in about five minutes. Note: This makes a slightly dry couscous, which allows it to absorb some of the moisture and flavour from the curry sauce. If you’d rather have your couscous on the side, use two and a half cups of water, and let the couscous sit for 10 minutes.

To serve, place a scoop of couscous in a bowl and cover with the chicken curry. Let sit for a few minutes to cool, and to allow the couscous to absorb some of the sauce.

This is also fantastic the next day, reheated for lunch.

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Grilled and Butterflied Chicken

Like I said earlier, I’m not the grillmaster in our house. That title belongs to my husband. However, I do enjoy coming up with interesting things for him to grill.

We really like doing roast chicken during the winter. One chicken will get us about two meals, plus 6-8 cups of rich, homemade chicken broth. But it’s way too hot during the summer (well, usually) to think about turning on the oven for the length of time it takes to cook a chicken.

So when I wandered across an episode of Good Eats in which Alton butterflies a chicken, I was intrigued. The concept is simple: instead of leaving the chicken all “bunched up” (you know, looking like a regular chicken), you could speed up the cooking process by “spreading out” the chicken so that the heat was more evenly distributed.

A little Googling found me a video that explained very clearly how to make a chicken lay flat (even better than Alton’s explanation. Whoa!). A word of warning about the video: it’s not for the vegetarian. You are doing a bit of custom butchering on your bird, and that involves crunching kitchen scissors through bones.

(Man, he makes it look easy. I always forget that part about cutting through the gristle at the top of the keel bone.)

Anyway, once you have the chicken flattened, it becomes a dream to grill. Now, our experience with the chickens had a fair amount of trial and error in it. Our biggest lesson is evident in this photo.

Butterflied Chicken

This bird? Tasted awesome, but it was a bit charred. The grease from the bird caused some flare-ups. After a trying a few different things, my husband eventually hit on using a lower temperature (increasing the cooking time a bit), and using a syringe filled with water to knock down any flare-ups. We’ve ended up with one perfect bird so far: perfectly crisped skin that isn’t burn, and moist, juicy meat. Unfortunately we were hungry that night, so I didn’t get a photo.

Butterflied chicken, ready to grill

What you put under the skin is really up to you, but we have found a favourite.

What you’ll need:
* olive oil
* salt
* coarse ground pepper
* 2 tsp dried rosemary
* 1 or 2 cloves minced garlic
* one chicken (3-4 pounds is good for two meals for two people.)

In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, the rosemary and garlic. Add enough olive oil to form a nice paste. Set aside.

Prepare the chicken. Remove the back and keel bone, and lay flat. Salt the inside of the bird and rub with olive oil.

Loosen the skin over the breasts and thighs. Spoon the rosemary mixture under the skin. Sprinkle the skin with salt and rub with olive oil. Massage the rosemary mixture around under the skin with your finger tips.

Heat grill to 325-350°F. Carefully lay the chicken on the grill, skin-side down. Cook for 20 minutes. Use a syringe (or a baster) filled with water to knock down any flare-ups from dripping oil or fat.

Using two wads of paper towels, grab the legs and flip the bird skin-side up. Be prepared for flare-ups! Cook for another 20 minutes.

Using a tip-sensitive thermometer, check that the chicken has reached 160°F in the breast and 170°F in the thigh. Remove the chicken from the grill, cover with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. (The internal temperature should rise to 165°F in that time.)

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