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A few months ago I got tired of hearing Ina Garten say, “If you can use homemade chicken stock you should, it’s  SO much better than store-bought.” I was so sick of it that I broke down and made my own stock. It’s not difficult, but it’s not necessarily smooth sailing either. You can print the recipe here. It looks like this:

Barefoot Contessa Homemade Chicken Stock

  • 3 (5-pound) roasting chickens
  • 3 large yellow onions, unpeeled and quartered
  • 6 carrots, unpeeled and halved
  • 4 stalks celery with leaves, cut into thirds
  • 4 parsnips, unpeeled and cut in half, optional
  • 20 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 15 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 20 sprigs fresh dill
  • 1 head garlic, unpeeled and cut in 1/2 crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

Directions Place the chickens, onions, carrots, celery, parsnips, parsley, thyme, dill, garlic, and seasonings in a 16 to 20-quart stockpot. Add 7 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, for 4 hours. Strain the entire contents of the pot through a colander and discard the solids. Chill the stock overnight. The next day, remove the surface fat. Use immediately or pack in containers and freeze for up to 3 months.

Here’s the truth: It’s really expensive to buy three whole chickens and then all those veggies. Plus, not all of  us have 20-quart stock pots. Not to mention, boiling whole chickens for four hours makes the stock incredibly fatty. It’s sort of like Chicken Jello. If you have the time and desire to make your own stock use two chicken carcasses instead (you can save them up in your freezer) or buy two whole chickens cut up but remove the skin before using them. It’s still full of flavor but there is a lot less fat to skim.

My newest revelation that is easier, faster and A LOT less work is my ghetto chicken stock. Buy low sodium stock (even better if it’s organic) and dump it in a large pot. I used two cartons of stock which is about eight cups. Then add a quartered onion, some garlic cloves, a teaspoon or so of salt, a few whole black peppercorns (if you have them), and lots of dill, parsley and thyme. Bring it to a boil and then lower it to a simmer for as much time as you have. Got an hour? Great! Two? Even better! 30 minutes? It certainly can’t hurt!

The stock you’ll get from this is significantly more flavorful than the boxed stock but half the work of making it for real. Use it in soup, sauces, risotto, etc.

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