Since we’re going to be heading out to the Winter Carnival in Saranac Lake today, I won’t be cooking any dinner. I thought today might be a good day to show a couple of simple recipes to make some of the homemade ingredients I use on a regular basis, like breadcrumbs and broth. None of these recipes are hard to make, and while the broth can take a little time to accomplish, it is absolutely worth it to have around and tastes so much better than store-bought. Making your own chicken broth can be accomplished in a couple of ways. One method uses a left over chicken carcass from a whole roasted chicken. This method can take hours and I do this when I know I have the time to let it sit on the stove. The second method I use is much quicker and tastes just as good. For this method I use some drumsticks for making the stock.We’ll just cover the quick one today.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 pounds chicken legs
1 onion, quartered
1 carrot, cut into chunks
1 rib celery, cut into chunks
2 quarts water
2 teaspoons salt
2 bay leaves
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until smoking. Brown half of the chicken on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining chicken and transfer to the bowl. Pour off the fat from the pot. Return all the chicken to the pot and stir in the onion, carrot and celery. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the chicken releases its juices, about 20 minutes. Stir in the water, salt and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the broth is rich and flavorful, about 20 minutes. Strain the broth into a large container, and let stand for 10 minutes before skimming the fat. Remove the meat from the bones and reserve separately.
Chicken legs are relatively inexpensive and great for using to make some stock if you don’t have the chicken carcass. They also give the broth, a nice, rich, meaty flavor and you can save the meat off the bones to use for soup if you like. This broth can be easily frozen and will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
The next stock to make would be some shrimp stock. This is probably the easiest stock to make out of something you would normally throw away without thinking twice. You can use this as a good substitute when recipes call for a fish stock.
Shells from 1 to 2 pounds shrimp
1/2 onion, sliced
1/2 carrot, sliced
1/2 celery stalk, sliced
Combine all the ingredients and add 4 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to very low, cover and cook for 15 minutes.. Cool slightly, then strain, pressing on the shells to extract as much juice as possible. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to a few weeks.
After chicken and shrimp, you can always make some vegetable broth. Again, it’s a very simple process using what you already have in the house and doesn’t take long to complete.
4 large carrots, sliced
2 large onions, chopped
1 large potato, sliced
2 celery stalks, chopped
5 or 6 cloves of garlic
10 to medium button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced (optional)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients and add 14 cups of water and some pepper. Bring to a boil and adjust the heat so the mixture simmers steadily but gently and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender (Longer is better if you have the time). Cool slightly, then strain, pressing on the vegetables to extract as much juice as possible. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Finally, I do occasionally make my own beef stock. If you have any meat bones to use, or scraps or inexpensive cuts of meat, you can do this at home. I find store-bought beef broth is okay, as long as you get the lower sodium, but if you can make it, then why not?
3 to 4 pounds meaty beef bones, like shank, shin, tail or short ribs
2 medium onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon salt, plus more to taste
Rinse the bones well under cold running water. then transfer to a large stockpot and add the remaining ingredients. Add about 16 cups of water, enough to cover by a couple of inches. Bring just about to a boil, then partially cover and adjust the heat so the mixture sends up a few bubbles at a time. Cook, skimming off any foam that accumulates at the top, until the meat falls from the bones and the bones separate from one another, 2 to 3 hours. Cool slightly, then strain, pressing on the vegetables and meat to extract as much juice as possible. Taste and add salt if necessary. Use immediately or refrigerate (skim off any hardened fat from the surface) and use within 4 to 5 days or freeze up to 3 months.
Other than stock, the other staple I make at home is breadcrumbs. I use breadcrumbs a lot for coating, binding or as a crunchy topping. They are really simple to make and the only work on your part is pulling out the food processor. I prefer to use white bread for breadcrumbs; it seems to have the best texture.
Tear pieces of sandwich bread into quarters and pulse in a food processor to coarse crumbs, about 8 pulses. One slice of bread should yield about 1 cup.
If you want dried breadcrumbs, you can either just use some stale bread in the food processor, or take the fresh breadcrumbs you made, sprinkle them on a baking sheet and bake in a 300 degree oven until dry, about 15 to 30 minutes.
Dried breadcrumbs can be stored in a zip-lock bag or container at room temperature for about 1 month, while fresh can be stored for about 1 week. You could freeze either one for about 3 months, just allow about 30 minutes of thawing at room temperature before you use them.
So that’s it for the staples for today. They are quick ways to get some fresh, homemade ingredients that you’ll find yourself using quite often. Tomorrow I’ll be posting my Chicken Corn Chowder recipe that we brought for Winter Carnival, and good thing since it’s about 10 degrees up here! See you tomorrow!