Homemade Chicken Stock

Appetizers and Starters, Food Life, Recipes, Side Dishes

Happy Day-After-Thanksgiving, Nom Nom Cat Readers! I hope you were able to partake in a gluttonous quantity of turkey (or chicken, or ham, or lamb) with all the fixin’s, and most importantly, spend quality time with loved ones. And for those who did carve into a whole poultry bird, I certainly hope that you kept the carcass… which brings me to today’s recipe — homemade chicken stock. Martin makes fun of me for it, but one of my favorite Sunday afternoon activities is bringing home a whole bird, butchering it into the assorted parts (breasts, thighs, drumsticks, wings), and making a stock out of the remnants. I just use the raw chicken scraps as-is, but roasted chicken bones would impart even more flavor to your broth or stock, so keep that carcass!

Beautiful Stock

Beautiful Stock

The process is surprisingly simple, and once I used homemade stock in a recipe, I never turned back. Soups, sauces, and especially risotto benefit from a quality base that the canned and carton variety just cannot replicate. Making stock is also a relatively forgiving process. Short on time? You’ll get a nice clear broth. Leave it too long? You’ll end up with a concentrated demiglace that can be diluted later in cooking. But simmer it for just the right amount of time and you’ll yield a rich, full flavored stock that embodies the essence of chicken.

Ingredients:

Ingredients:

Chicken: carcass, neck, 2 wings, excess fat

1 large onion

2 carrots

2-3 stalks celery

3 cloves of garlic

2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme

3-4 dried bay leaves

3 quarts cold water

Egg shell, optional*

* If having a very clear stock is important for your next recipe, toss in an egg shell and/or egg white. The albumen will attract and trap the “junk” and you can just skim off the floating “raft” at the end.

Carcass

Carcass

Butcher the raw or roasted chicken carcass.

Mirepoix

Mirepoix

Roughly chop the mirepoix vegetables. The garlic can be left whole – just smash it a bit to release the oils.

Browning the Chicken

Browning the Chicken

I like to start my stock by browning the chicken first. The one I bought had a large flap of fat that I had trimmed off, so I started that first to render fat and then tossed in the whole carcass. I also added the neck and two wings. The wings have a great bone to meat to fat ratio for making stock. For a true stock, I do not season the chicken at all. Any seasoning will come from the next stage; the stock only harnesses the chicken flavor.

Add the Veggies

Add the Veggies

Add the mirepoix. You can also make a chicken stock with only chicken, but I like the flavors that the vegetables add to the final product.

Pour in the Water

Pour in the Water

Time to pour in the water, cold as starting with cold water will result in a less cloudy broth. Also toss in the aromatics. Bring to boil and simmer for 3 to 4 hours, less for a broth (but at least 1 hour so the chicken cooks through), more for a reduced demiglace.

Strain the Stock

Strain the Stock

Remove the boiled chicken. After about 4 hours of simmering, the chicken itself will probably be dry and bland. I toss it (there isn’t much meat left on the carcass anyway) but to prevent waste, you can pick the meat off the bones and use for a chicken salad or toss in nuoc cham and eat over rice. Using a sieve or even a skimmer (in the very first photo), strain out the vegetables and herbs. The recipe should yield about 1.5 to 2 quarts of stock.

Muffin Tin Storage

Muffin Tin Storage

I stored my latest batch of stock in a freezer safe plastic container, but I wish I had taken the extra step to make my “broth bullion” as Martin likes to call them. It’s so easy — just strain the broth or stock into a muffin tin, about 2/3 to 3/4 full. Freeze overnight.

Frozen Broth Bullion

Frozen Broth Bullion

Once frozen solid, just pop them out (dip the tray in a bit of warm water to loosen if it needs help) and store in a zip top bag. Whenever you need broth, just reheat in a small saucepan. I also love these little discs because they add just the right amount of oomph to my sauces. No need to defrost more than you’d use right away, and it’s just as easy as popping open a can of the store-bought stuff. And like I said earlier, nothing beats homemade!

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SPONSORED POST

Speaking of Black Friday, a little birdie told us that Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (CBTL) is participating with a Buy One Get One Free sale all weekend (November 29 through December 1) on their Kaldi and Americano machines. Not willing to brave the crazy crowds at your local mall? Have no fear — this sale is also taking place online with the promo code BOGOCBTL. Check out the website for more info and for the fine print. Enjoy!

13CBV_PS_BOGO_BlackFriday 11x17* Disclosure per FTC regulations: we were not paid for this post but expect to receive a CBTL machine from Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in the near future to try and review. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely those of Nom Nom Cat authors Alice and Martin.

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Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup (Mien Ga)

Main Dishes, Recipes

Baby it’s cold outside… and that means, it’s the season for soup! We’ve posted a chicken noodle soup on this blog before, but nothing quite hits the spot like Vietnamese miến gà, a glass noodle chicken soup just like my parents used to make for me when I was sick. Martin’s mom did the same for him and I’ll bet many Asian families have a similar recipe in their repertoire. It’s warm, comforting, and beautiful in its simplicity. You could even increase the noodle-to-soup ratio to create the traditional Hawaiian dish Chicken Long Rice. Since we’re starting with just the basics here, the possibilities are endless.

Vietnamese Chicken and Glass Noodle Soup (Miến Gà)

Vietnamese Chicken and Glass Noodle Soup (Miến Gà)

NomNomCat Tip #1: What I refer to as bean thread noodles (or bún tàu) are also translated as “cellophane noodles” or “glass noodles.” These are thin strands often dried and packaged in individual bundles about the size of a generous handful. I cook them directly in the chicken stock, but you can boil them separately in water instead. The latter technique will make it easier to store leftovers (if you can avoid it, do not store the noodles together with the soup or they will quickly soak up all the moisture and expand). Note that these bean thread noodles (made with mung bean starch) are not to be confused with hủ tiếu dai, another Vietnamese glass noodle that is chewier and thicker in diameter, nor with bún, a rice vermicelli that turns bright white when cooked.

Bean Thread Noodles (I know the package says "vermicelli" on it -- how confusing!)

Bun Tau / Bean Thread Noodles (I know the package says “vermicelli” on it — how confusing!)

NomNomCat Tip #2: Anyone who has been to a Vietnamese restaurant may have noticed that there is a vast difference between fish sauce straight from the bottle (nước mắm) and fish sauce that has been “prepared” so to speak (nước chấm, literally “dipping sauce”). I use nuoc mam for seasoning the soup, but for the shredded chicken, the more subtle and balanced nuoc cham is in order. It’s easy to prepare and keeps well in an airtight jar in the refrigerator. Here’s an approximation of my dad’s recipe: In a small sauce pan, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Stir in a scant 1/4 cup of sugar. When completely dissolved, add 1 cup of cold water to cool the solution down. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of nuoc mam (full strength fish sauce), and 1 teaspoon of white vinegar. Distilled will work fine but if you can get your hands on the Filipino cane vinegar (sukang maasim), Datu Puti is my dad’s brand of choice. Taste and adjust as needed. It should be a balance of sweet, salty, and tart. Pour into a jar and add a few thick slices of fresh garlic. The flavors develop better as it “ages” but you can also use right away if needed.

Okay, now that all that is squared away, let’s go back to basics with miến gà.

Ingredients:

4 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on

1 medium onion, charred

1.5 to 2 quarts water

2 tablespoons fish sauce (nước mắm)

Salt & pepper, to taste

3 50g bundles of bean thread noodles (bún tàu)

3 to 4 tablespoons prepared fish sauce (nước chấm, recipe above)

1 lime

* Optional: about 2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and charred (I omitted it here since I did not have any on hand, but it would have added an extra oomph to the broth’s complexity)

Brown the Chicken

Brown the Chicken

In a large pot (I think mine is a 5 quart stock pot), brown the chicken thighs (sprinkled with salt and pepper) skin side down on high heat to render the fat.

Charred Onion on the Stovetop

Charred Onion on the Stovetop

Meanwhile, char the onion. To do this, you’ll need three things: a peeled onion, a burner on your (gas not electric) stove, and a pair of metal tongs. Oh and a bit of courage. Turn on the burner to high heat. Hold the peeled onion, gripping firmly with the tongs. Lower the onion as close to the burner as you can stand it, letting the flames envelope the outer layers. Rotate the angle to evenly toast up the onion. Some patches may bubble up and pop — that’s where the courage comes into play. After I browned the exposed areas, I lay the onion onto a cutting board and re-position the tongs to char the hard-to-reach portion.

Chicken Stock - The Beginning

Chicken Stock – The Beginning

Toss into the pot with the chicken. Pour in about 1.5 to 2 quarts of water. I’ve read that for a clear, proper stock, you are supposed to start with cold water. However, I am often short on time and so I will heat the water in a kettle first to expedite bringing the whole pot to a boil. I don’t mind cloudy chicken broth. ;)

Fish Sauce -- the "secret" ingredient

Fish Sauce — the “secret” ingredient

Season with a few good shakes of fish sauce, about 2 tablespoons. Let simmer for about 45 minutes to one hour or until the chicken has cooked through and the broth is fatty and flavorful.

Shredding the Chicken (they just came out of boiling water so don't grab barehanded like I did)

Shredding the Chicken (they just came out of boiling water so don’t grab barehanded like I did)

Remove the chicken to a plate and shred. It’s quite hot so I used a fork and knife.

Seasoning the Chicken

Seasoning the Chicken

After all the chicken is shredded into bite-sized bits, I help it out a bit flavor-wise with a generous drizzle of prepared fish sauce (nuoc cham) and squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Cook the Glass Noodles

Cook the Glass Noodles

Meanwhile, turn off the heat and add the bean thread noodles to the broth (or to a separate pot of boiling water, if desired). The bundles will expand and soften within minutes.

For each portion, start with noodles and chicken

For each portion, start with noodles and chicken

To serve, grab a bowl. build a nest of noodles, pile on the shredded chicken, and ladle in the broth.

Ladle in the broth and serve!

Ladle in the broth and serve!

Serve with a wedge of lime and, if you like a spicy kick, add a dollop of sambal oelek (chili garlic paste). This will yield about 4 servings. Enjoy!

UPDATE: Exciting news!

I am going through and uploading PRINTABLE versions of our recipes for your viewing and printing convenience. We love to post step-by-step photos along with our recipes, but we know that this makes for cumbersome print jobs when it comes to bringing a copy of the recipe into the kitchen for reference. For this mien ga recipe, please click on this link or the BRAND NEW BUTTON below. For our recipe archive (a work in progress), click here. Scroll down to the very bottom of the site, click on “Print Page,” and when prompted, either save as a PDF to your computer or send the print job directly to your printer. Easy peasy!

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Zesty Tequila Lime Chicken

Main Dishes, Recipes

For the title of this post, I had contemplated making a pun on Tequila Mockingbird (To Kill a Mockingbird… get it, get it?), but as our primary modification to Ina Garten’s recipe was to add three types of citrus zest, zesty it is! That’s right folks – lime, lemon, and orange zest all play a huge role in making this marinade really sing. That and some good tequila. No need to break out the top shelf Patron or Don Julio – your favorite low-to-mid-tier gold will do. We recommend aiming for a $20-30 bottle; we used Sauza Commemorativo, a gorgeous amber-hued añejo tequila aged 18 months in oak barrels.

Zesty Tequila Lime Chicken

Zesty Tequila Lime Chicken

NomNomCat Tips:

#1: You really don’t want to skimp on the marinating time, so be sure to plan well in advance! This recipe recommends overnight marination; I managed to get in 24 hours by prepping this meal as I was cooking the night before’s dinner. If you do need to multitask a bit, you can marinade frozen chicken pieces so that they defrost and absorb flavor at the same time (thus saving time from waiting for the chicken to thaw first). Again, it must sit at least overnight and if using frozen, be sure to rinse off any ice crystals before dropping the chicken into the marinade.

#2: If ever a recipe really depended on a microplane, this would be one of them. Don’t have a microplane? Use the finest side of your box grater. Don’t have a box grater either? Time to get one. Just kidding, sorta. You could skip the zest (Ina Garten did in the original recipe and I’m sure hers comes out just fine), or do it the old fashioned way – take a vegetable peeler and try to get as thin a slice of the peel as possible. Use a paring knife to scrape off or cut away any pith (the bitter white part). Then just finely mince the peels and voila – zest!

Microplane - very important, though not mandatory

Microplane – very important, though not mandatory

#3: I have both grilled and baked these chicken thighs, and I’ve found that both methods are good in their own ways. I like the ease of sticking them in the oven and forgetting about them for 45 minutes, at which time I can serve and eat. Baking would also be a great way to bring back a bit of summer when the weather starts getting too cold for grilling. If you do decide to grill these, about 10-15 minutes per side would be the ballpark. Grilling is a delicate balance between making sure they are sufficiently cooked (165 degree internal temperature) and that they don’t dry out. You may want to make extra marinade to reserve for basting.

Ingredients:

Ingredients:

1/2 cup tequila

1 cup fresh squeezed lime and lemon juice (approximately 3 limes and 2 lemons)

1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (approximately 1 medium orange)

The zest of all citrus fruits above

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (you can add more to kick it up a notch!)

3 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

4 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on (or about 1 pound of chicken, your choice of cut)

Lots of Citrus Zest

Lots of Citrus Zest

Prep the citrus. I’m a slow zester, so it took me a while to put this marinade together. Be prepared – the kitchen is going to smell amazingly fragrant as the peels start to release the aromatic citrus oils.

Measuring Out the Citrus Juices

Measuring Out the Citrus Juices

Combine the marinade ingredients. Taste if you dare. It should pack a punch.

Marinating in a Plastic Bag

Marinating in a Plastic Bag

Clean the chicken thighs and place them into a plastic gallon-sized zip-top bag or glass container. Pour the marinade over the chicken and squish around to get the chicken really coated. If using the zip-top bag, let as much air out as possible to ensure maximum chicken-to-marinade contact. If using a glass container, create an airtight seal using plastic wrap or its lid. Refrigerate overnight.

Ready for the Oven

Ready for the Oven

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees or heat up the grill. Gently shake the chicken as you remove it from the marinade. Lay on a foil-lined sheet pan for baking at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, or arrange on an oiled grill and cook for 10-15 minutes per side, depending on the size of your pieces of chicken.

After 45 minutes of baking

After 45 minutes of baking

Serve with fresh flour or corn tortillas, salsa, lime wedges, chopped cilantro, and diced onion. I liked using a bright, chunky pico de gallo for texture and flavor contrast.

Dinner is Served!

Dinner is Served!

Though the weather has been gloomy here in LA, we’re not quite ready to let go of summer yet! Celebrate with one last summery hurrah by serving up these street-style tacos filled with juicy, flavorful tequila lime chicken. Or bookmark us for next summer’s barbecues – just remember to come back and let us know how it goes!

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Chicken Noodle Soup (Adorable Shapes Welcomed)

Main Dishes, Recipes

April Showers make me want to curl up in our cozy house with a hot bowl of comforting chicken noodle soup, especially since the aroma of chicken will likely lure at least one of our cats over to beg for a morsel. I’ll be honest, I used to be content to opening up a can of Campbell’s (the one with the star shapes was my favorite), but after making your own chicken soup, you can never really go back. This is the perfect recipe to use up random chicken parts – wings are great for both rendering the stock and shredding up to eat since they have a good bone-to-meat ratio, but you can also use a chicken carcass (perhaps after butchering your own chicken – my latest “thing”) paired with more meaty parts. I’ve even been known to muster up the effort to prepare this soup for myself while out sick, it’s that easy. Leftovers freeze well for a rainy day, but this small-batch recipe will serve about 4.

Chicken Noodle Soup (made even more fun with Hello Kitty Macaroni)

Chicken Noodle Soup (made even more fun with Hello Kitty shaped macaroni!)

Ingredients:

1 lb bone-in chicken (I used 10 wings)

1 tablespoon oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 medium onion, diced

3-4 carrots, diced or sliced

3-4 stalks of celery, sliced

5-6 cups of water

Dried bay leaves

Dried thyme

Salt & pepper

1 1-lb box of pasta, any shape

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and set aside. Start prepping your vegetables.

Sizzle sizzle!

Sizzle sizzle!

In a large pot, heat the oil and saute the garlic until just barely browned. Add the chicken and sear on all sides.

Veg-tastic!

Veg-tastic!

Toss in the onions and let them sweat a bit, just a few minutes. Add in the rest of the vegetables and pour in the water. Bring to a boil.

Mmm soup..

Mmm soup..

Add in the herbs and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally and skimming off any foam that may form.

Cook according to package instructions, and what a cute package it is!

Cook according to package instructions, and what a cute package it is!

As the broth is simmering, cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain and rinse and set aside.

Ta-da! Soup is ready.

Ta-da! Soup is ready.

When ready to serve, spoon some pasta into a bowl and ladle the soup over it. If you’re packing up leftovers, it is best to store the noodles separately from the broth, otherwise the pasta will absorb extra liquid and turn to mush.

For the days when you feel under the weather, we hope this chicken noodle soup brings some comfort and smiles :]

What’s Up, Butter… nut?

Main Dishes, Recipes, Side Dishes

What’s up, buttercups? Hope you had a happy 11-11-11 and made an epic wish at 11:11!

Thanks to dear friend (and very loyal NomNomCat reader!) Calvin, I’ve been spending much of my online time browsing Greatist, a health and fitness blog. My favorites are the recipes and the articles that feature news and facts about food and our relationship with food. They also have awesome infographics. I’m a sucker for pretty and informative infographics.

In the spirit of autumn, they recently posted a recipe for a roasted chicken and butternut squash soup that looked so good I just had to pick up a b-nut myself and whip some up. The recipe also gave me a reason to pick up some cumin and coriander to add to our growing spice rack!

We made a few small changes to the Greatist recipe. Here’s our variation!

LOVE the bright orange color of a peeled butternut squash!

First of all, this was my first experience hacking open one of these gourds so I turned to Google for advice. The folks at Cookthink have a helpful how-to with great step-by-step photos. What they don’t mention, however, is that b-nut sap can cause your skin to have this weird tight, plastic-like texture. My right hand (the one that held the knife) was no worse for the wear, but poor ol’ lefty looked unusually shiny and felt reminiscent of having a dried layer of Elmer’s glue on your skin. People seem to have their own theories for how to get rid of it, but what worked for me was scrubbing with hand soap and a pumice stone under warm running water. What would work even better is having the foresight to wear gloves the next time you cut open a b-nut. :)

Secondly, SAVE THE SEEDS. They are delicious and addictive when roasted. Recipe below the soup.

Ingredients:

(For 4-6 servings)

1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks

2 14-oz cans of chicken broth

1 lb boneless chicken (we preferred thighs but breasts would work too), cut into 1-inch cubes

Salt & pepper, to taste

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Dash of coriander

Dash of cumin

————————

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. After prepping the b-nut and chicken, add them to a baking dish (we used a 9 x 13 x 2 Pyrex dish). Drizzle with olive oil to coat and season with salt and pepper.

Looks good already!

Toss before placing the dish in the oven to roast the chicken until it’s no longer pink (but not more than that or it will get dry) and the squash is fork tender. It took us about 40 minutes. In a pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add the chunks of b-nut and let cook for a few more minutes to soften. Then using a hand blender, puree until you get the desired consistency (pulverizing all of it will yield a thick and smooth soup, but we liked leaving a few chunks for texture).

Whirrrrrrrrrr!

Then add the roasted chicken pieces, coriander, and cumin. Let it simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes to allow the mashed squash to thicken the broth. Serve and enjoy!

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Did you keep the seeds? We were determined to use as much of the b-nut as we could, so we found this incredibly easy and very delicious recipe on AllRecipes for roasted winter squash seeds.

Roasty toasty seeds (fyi the red spots are from the Himalayan pink salt I used for seasoning)

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Meanwhile, wash the seeds in cold water to remove the slimy sinewy squash innards. Pat them dry on paper towels. In a small bowl, toss them with a drizzle of olive oil and some salt for flavor. Spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet topped with parchment paper. (You could spread them on the baking sheet directly, but this way your pan doesn’t get greasy and it will be easy to shake them into your serving bowl later!) Stick them in the oven for about 15 minutes. After removing them from the oven, let them cool before shaking them into a bowl for serving or storage. They should keep in an airtight container for a week or so, but they make such a delicious and healthy snack that they didn’t last longer than a half hour in our house.

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This soup was perfect to warm us up with a hearty meal on a cold night. We were so eager to devour it that I forgot to take a picture of the final product. Sorry about that! We had the leftovers with some garlic naan I got from Trader Joes and it went phenomenally with the fragrant cumin. We liked it smooth, but next time we’ll have to try it chunky style a la Greatist. I imagine you could also make this vegetarian by omitting the chicken and using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. The spices really add a rich flavor to the soup and you wouldn’t even miss the meat! Try this recipe at home and let us know which rendition you prefer for b-nut soup. We’d love to hear from you!