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!

nomnomcat print button

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.

Advertisements

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!

————————

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.

————————

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!

Had a Hankering for Bread Pudding…

Desserts and Sweets, Recipes

I had this unusual craving for bread pudding, so I decided I would make my own bread pudding. After a quick browse courtesy of our friend Google, I made a beeline for the kitchen to assemble the ingredients, all of which I had in my fridge and pantry (I know that’s not an incredible feat itself for most people, but that’s actually a big deal to me). As I sit here eagerly awaiting my microwave timer to go off and silently praying to the dessert gods that my bread pudding will not curdle, I felt compelled to put together this entry. Rest assured, I will certainly revise this post and make the appropriate tweaks so that yours will come out great, but I’m feeling pretty darn confident so far. Moment of truth…

*Drumroll* The Finished Product!

Tada! Not very difficult at all, and having one (or two) of these is perfect for that warm fuzzy feeling on a cold night. Okay fine, it’s actually 80-something degrees outside, but it’s cold because of the air conditioning. Close enough.

Ingredients:

For 6 cupcake-sized servings:

2 eggs (mine were extra large)

5 slices of bread, any kind (I used whole wheat)

2 teaspoons butter, melted

1 cup milk (I used whole milk)

1/4 cup sugar (turbinado aka Sugar in the Raw gives a nice “warm” flavor to the final product)

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (plus a few extra dashes if desired.. I like adding extra)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (plus an extra splash if desired.. I like extra of this too)

A little brown sugar to sprinkle on top

————————

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grab a large bowl, toss in the butter, and pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to melt. In the meantime, cut the bread slices into cubes (I’m a bit OCD, but you can feel free to tear or cut the bread into any sized chunks you want). This is a great opportunity to use up the end pieces that no one uses for sandwiches.

Leftover wheat bread, including “reject” end-pieces

In a medium-sized bowl, beat the eggs. Then add the milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla and stir well to combine. I used turbinado (raw) sugar so I had to beat/stir my egg mixture a little longer to ensure the large sugar crystals had dissolved.

Cinnamon-y, eggy goodness.

Toss the bread cubes in the melted butter, coating them as evenly as you can. This will help the exposed bits crisp up later. Then pour in the egg mixture and stir to combine. I like to let it sit for just a minute or two so that the bread soaks up the egg mixture but does not quite turn into a soggy mush.

Note how they are moist but not quite soggy

Spoon the eggy bread into your baking tin. I made mini bread puddings using a 6-cup muffin tin, but you can also use a baking dish so long as you adjust the cooking time. Just before they go in the oven, sprinkle a bit of brown sugar on top. It will add a nice crunchy texture.

Into the oven they go for about 35-40 minutes. I like to let it go for 35 minutes, turn off the heat, and then allow it to bake in the residual heat for another 5-10 minutes. Check on them periodically and they’re ready when you touch the bread and it bounces back.

Bet you can’t eat just one! (I couldn’t.)

They’re best served warm and fresh out of the oven. We enjoyed these plain (although I’m reluctant to use the word “plain” as the cinnamon and vanilla worked wonders to transform that boring old wheat bread!) but you can serve them with a rum sauce, berry compote, ice cream, whipped cream, whatever your heart desires!

————————

Credit goes to this allrecipes.com version (and subsequent reader comments) for helping me figure out basic proportions, ingredients, and oven temperature. If you try our recipe at home, let us know how it turned out for you and if you made any changes that worked out for the better!

Fresh Pasta: A Real Eye-talian Treat

Food Life, Main Dishes, Recipes

When it comes to pasta, a lot of people, myself included, would rather go for the quick and easy 5-minute Barilla capellini from the supermarket. On the off-chance you have an hour or two to make dinner, you should really consider making fresh pasta. It takes a little bit of time and effort but isn’t very difficult at all and tastes so much better than store-bought pasta. Once you get the basics of making fresh pasta, you can start experimenting like herb pasta, pumpkin pasta, spinach pasta, squid ink pasta, you name it! Let’s take a step back and start with the basics first.

Ingredients:

5 oz. All-purpose flour (approx. 1.13 dry cups) *
5 oz Semolina flour (approx. 0.85 dry cups) *
2 Extra Large Eggs
Pinch of salt
Dry herbs (optional)
Drizzle of olive oil

* the conversion comes out a bit funny, so for simplicity you could also use 1-1/4 cup AP flour and 3/4 cup of semolina. Rule of thumb is one egg per one cup of dry flour, so we’re looking for 2 cups total between the AP flour and semolina.

** UPDATE: if you do have a food scale, you may need a third egg to have enough moisture to turn the 10 ounces of dry ingredients into a silky dough

There’s a few ways you could do this but we’ll explain the “well” method here. If you have a stand mixer you could throw all the ingredients in and voila! Using a food processor would require some more attention to make sure the dough doesn’t get too dry and cause it to smoke up like ours did. We learned the well method from a cooking demo with the New School of Cooking at Eat Real Fest, and it works best for us.

First mix the semolina and all-purpose flour together in a large bowl. For this next step you could choose to use a cutting board but we like using the bowl because we tend to make a mess of things. Form a well with the flour mixture using the bottom of the dry measuring cup you used for the flour.

The Well

Crack both eggs and put them into the well along with a pinch of salt, drizzle of olive oil, and, if you’d like, some basil or other dry herbs. We used extra large eggs but if you use smaller eggs or larger eggs remember to adjust accordingly because 2 extra large eggs was just the right amount of moisture for the amount of dough we wanted to make.

Add Eggs

With a fork, break the yolks and begin mixing the ingredients in the well while slowly incorporating the flour mixture in a circular motion. Try to maintain the integrity and shape of the well to avoid mixing in too much flour all at once. It’s easier to use mix in less flour and add more if it turns out sticky than to need to add water or olive oil later if it became too dry. Continue mixing the ingredients together until you get a nice lump of dough.

Whisk together in a circular motion

When the dough is no longer sticky, jump in with both hands and begin kneading the dough with your palms on a cutting board sprinkled with flour. Knead the dough out, rotate it a quarter-turn, fold it over, and knead again, adding flour as needed if still sticky. Knead for about 5-10 minutes to get the gluten proteins working.

Put the lump of dough into an unsealed Ziplock bag and let sit on the counter for 40 minutes. If you’re in a rush, you can go as short as 20 minutes, but ideally you want to let it rest for 40 minutes to an hour.

After 40 minutes have passed, take the lump of dough, roll it out with a rolling pin, and cut it into 4 equal pieces. (Tip: you’ll want the pieces to be more narrow than wide so that it doesn’t stick to the edges of the pasta maker.) You’re all set! You could choose to make cut pasta, shaped pasta, filled pasta.. even leave the strips whole and make lasagna. We haven’t quite tried shaped pastas yet so read on for instructions on “string” or cut pastas.

To roll the pasta, we use a Marcato pasta maker, see link here for info about it. Set your pasta maker to the 0 setting and run the dough through it. Fold the dough over on itself in thirds (like you’re folding a brochure) and run it through the machine again. Repeat this 2-3 times until it has produced a consistent thickness. Change the dial to 1 and run the dough through once. Continue changing the dial to higher numbers and run the dough through once each time until it reaches the desired thickness. For spaghetti on the Marcato machine, we roll up to the thickness setting 6 and angel hair about 7 or 8. The higher you go on the setting, the thinner the pasta, and higher chance of it falling apart during cutting.

Beautiful rolled pasta dough

After rolling each piece of dough, cut the lengthy piece in half and place on top of a baking pan lined with saran wrap and let sit.  You can stack layers of saran wrap on top and repeat this step until all the dough has been rolled. The saran wrap keeps the rolled pasta from drying out while you finish up the rest of the dough. Be sure to keep the baking pan in a cool place! We once left it our stove (which is constantly warm because of the pilot light) and the bottom layer turned out to be unusable mush.

Let sit between layers of saran wrap to prevent drying out

The cutting of the pasta really just depends on your preference. The Marcato pasta maker comes with default cutting heads for fettucine and tagliolini. Additional heads could be bought separately for about $30-$40. For all intents and purposes, these two attachments with varying thicknesses should suffice. Peel off one of the rolled pieces of dough from the saran wrap. If it is too sticky, liberally sprinkle with all purpose flour. Excess flour will just flake off into the water later, but the cutting heads will not make clean cuts if the dough is too sticky. Roll the pasta through and make sure to catch the strands as they come out from the opposite side.

Hold the strands as they are cut

Lay the pasta on a drying rack to dry before cooking or storage. Space out the strands, dusting on extra flour if you have to, to ensure that the pasta does not end up in one big mass.

Finished product!

The pasta is best if consumed in the same day, so if you are using the pasta right away, you’ll want to let it sit on the drying rack for at least 10 minutes or so before dropping them in salted (or oiled) boiling water. Fresh pasta takes considerably less time to cook than the dried stuff in the box, so taste taste taste! When it is al dente (approx 2-3 minutes for capellini, 5-6 minutes or so for fettuccine), drain the pasta, toss in sauce, and serve immediately. You definitely need to dress the pasta shortly after draining in order to avoid clumping.

If you have leftovers or would like to keep the pasta for later, it keeps for about 3 days in the refrigerator in an airtight ziploc bag. Let the pasta dry on the racks for an hour or so and gently pack them in the bag so that the strands do not break. Freezing is not recommended, and drying on the rack will not dry the pasta sufficiently for long-term storage like the grocery store brands.

We hope this little guide will help you get started in your pasta making adventures. It may take some time and a few attempts to get the right texture and consistency in fresh pasta but it will definitely be worth the hassle. If you have time during the week, definitely consider making fresh pasta. We, however, still often make Barilla during the week for convenience’s sake (for shame, yes). Now that the basics is covered, it’s time to experiment with different sauces but will post them here as we do!