Few things are more difficult or more tiresome than trying to come up with something halfway interesting to say on a Friday night when you're tired, quite possibly coming down with a bit of a cold, have nursed the beginning twinges of a headache for several hours, and can't think of anything else better to say than "Hey, I made chicken stock tonight."
Yes. That's it. That's the full extent of it: another two figures accomplished on Kat's scarf (each figure is approximately four inches long) and a nagging, throbbing pain centered square in my forehead, like a third eye. The good news is that the chicken stock, given time to cool and solidify, will be strong enough to stand up under its own power and … well … do whatever chicken stock does whenever it's strong enough to stand up under its own power.
It was a couple of years into The Great Marriage Experiment™ that I made chicken stock for the first time, and given that I didn't come from a family where this sort of thing was your average Saturday afternoon pastime, I really wish someone had warned me about the end result.
Not to sound my age, but: ewwww.
What did I expect? Would it be too far off the mark to say "liquid"? No, I don't think so.
I did everything the way that I was told—boiled the discarded chicken bony bits until every bit of flavor/protein/gelatin was leached into the water. Ran the mess through a fine-mesh strainer, covered the pot, and shoved it in the fridge. Come the next morning, the pot would [supposedly] contain a lovely-yet-undetermined amount of homemade chicken stock, which could be easily defatted by just lifting the solidified fat off the top.
(Good thing fat doesn't sink. Ewwww.)
All well and good, until the domesticat-in-training opened up the pot, peeled off the top layer of fat, and discovered….chicken jello.
Convinced—a) that I had done things horrifically wrong b) I had just really pissed off FrankenChicken c) by doing things wrong I had unintentionally created FrankenChicken—I dove into my cookbooks to find the answer. All held praise for the lovely beauties of homemade chicken stock…but not a word about this ooey, gooey white mass of chicken jello that was sitting in my perfectly good Pyrex bowl and wobbling at me like a cheesy sci-fi movie effect.
A few books (and much frantic researching) later, I learned that I had done nothing wrong—in fact, had achieved the Holy Grail of homemade stock-making: stock so gelatin-rich that it congealed upon cooling. Trusting that the culinary gods would help me overcome the 'ewwww!' factor, I dumped the stuff into a freezer bag and saved it for later.
Sure enough, it was fantastic. Leave it to me to very nearly throw out the Holy Grail. What can I say? It's a talent.
Before watching Farscape tonight, I yanked out the latest bit of chicken stock from the fridge. I peeled off the top layer and—sure enough!—there it was, happy chicken stock wobbling at me.
That's its way of saying hello, I think.
(Side note: Alton Brown's transcript of how to systematically deconstruct a whole chicken (skip down to Scene 3) is most excellent. It's really not difficult, and his tip about taking the wishbone out makes things really easy. Not bad, getting 4 legs, thighs, and breasts for eight dollars—and having necks/backs/wings left over for stockmaking. I really should do this more often.)