Every Halloween, I make a small batch of chicken stock in preparation for Thanksgiving. This is one of those recipes the Barefoot Contessa swears by, making room for it in all of her cookbooks. Who am I to argue with the Barefoot Contessa….with one small exception. I don’t really need 12 cups of chicken stock….
By this point you might be thinking, why on earth would I want to make my own chicken stock when I can buy it for $0.54 a can?? Well, my friends, I have a very simple answer for you – it’s the ultimate Walking Dead experience! Who doesn’t want a little Walking Dead style on Halloween! Still skeptical? Witness the following exhibits:
Exhibit A – The start of beautiful things to decay! Looks pretty, right! Well, we’re about to create the ultimate “walker” in the stockpot. This one’s already had it’s head both staked and cut off. We’re all dead here! Countdown starts at 4 hours remaining.
Exhibit B – 1 hour in, the skin starts molting, tendons are appearing, but all in all, not exactly the spitting image of the Walking Dead…yet that is!
Exhibit C – 2 hours in, bones are showing, limbs are falling, the skin is a rubbery grey color. As Daryl might say – time to flip the bird….literally!
Exhibit D – 4 hours in and the spine’s a creepy sight, muscles are peeling and color starts appearing in the stock. She might look like the walker in the food bank (or even the walker in the well), but at this point the stock has taken on a beautiful pale golden brown color and the taste is a velvety, rich chicken brine that will pair perfectly with your Thanksgiving feast. Look at that! Dinner and a new episode of the Walking Dead all on your stovetop!
Hey, we’re not the Governor, we don’t save our corpses in a freaky closet filled with fish tank walker heads! Don’t take this post too seriously! Although the Walking Dead is quite possibly the most unconventional way to present food, it is a fun way to enjoy the otherwise tedious task of making chicken stock. As always, trust the Barefoot Contessa. Homemade chicken stock may not be something I can afford to make everyday, but it is worth the effort for special occasions, holiday tables and elegant meals!
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 4 hours Yields: about 3 cups of chicken stock
Store In: 1/2 cup increments for efficient single cooking. For Thanksgiving, I will use all 3 cups so I store it in bulk.
1 4 pound whole chicken
2 carrots, halved
2 parsnips, halved
2 celery stalks, halved
1 large onion, quartered
1/2 head of garlic
7 sprigs of fresh flat leaf Italian parsley
7 sprigs of fresh dill (or you can substitute 1/2 tablespoon freeze dried dill)
5 sprigs of thyme
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
8.5 cups of water
1. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 4 hours. Check on it every hour to make sure things are going as planned. Since the water doesn’t completely cover the chicken, 2 hours in, flip the bird over to get the most of the chicken. Continue simmering for the remaining 2 hours. 4 hours in, turn off the heat and set the stock aside to cool.
2. Place a colander over a large mixing bowl or stockpot to catch the chicken stock as it drains. Pour the chicken stock through the colander. The stock with drip into the bowl/stockpot and the colander will catch all of the chicken and vegetable bits. Discard the solids and decant the stock into Tupperware containers storing in whatever quantity you need. Let is sit for a minute and all the fat will rise to the top of the container. Quickly skim the fat off the top before freezing. Freeze for up to 4 months. Once thawed, use within 5 days.
Notes from the Single Kitchionary –
All chickens are not the same! They come in all shapes and sizes, which means it might be helpful to know how much water you need per pound of chicken. For each pound of chicken meat, you will need roughly 2.15 cups of water. For ease of measuring, I would round to the nearest 1/2 cup of liquid. For example:
For 3.5 pound whole chicken, use 7.5 cups of water.
For 4 pound whole chicken, use 8.5 cups of water.
For 4.5 pound whole chicken, use 9.5 cups of water.
For 5 pound whole chicken, use 10.5 cups of water.
Remember! You can always add water at the end if the stock is too thick. You just can’t necessarily reduce the water after all is said and done!