Homemade Chicken Stock
Throughout my adventures, one of the key things I try to focus on is keeping my sodium intake low and at what ever level is healthy for my heart. Heart disease runs in my family and sodium can contribute to cardiovascular disease, loss of kidney function, and high blood pressure. Not to go into too many details, but I watch my salt intake and absolutely make it a priority in my cooking. When ever I make soups and do not have time to make my own stock from scratch, I buy low sodium or no sodium added chicken stock. When I DO have time to make my own, I will pressure cook left over chicken bones from a rotisserie or turkey and make more flavorful stock then you could possibly buy in the store.
If you have several hours to cook it on low in a dutch oven, by all means you can make the stock that way. Using a pressure cooker took the stock making process from several hours to 1-2 hours. You can use any chicken or turkey carcass (Thanksgiving leftovers, anyone?) but I definitely love using the rotisserie chickens from Costco, they are the perfect size for making this stock recipe.
Entire chicken carcass (it's ok to still have meat, you can pick it clean after you pressure cook it)
3-4 celery stalks, chopped into large chunks
3-4 carrots, chopped into large chunks
2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 small-medium white onion
1 bay leay
2 tbsp minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Strip of the chicken of as much of the meat as possible. For the stock, you want the bone mostly for the flavor. Loosely chop all the vegetables, toss them into pressure cooker, add the whole springs of thyme, rosemary and the bay leaf to the pot, cover with 2 quarts fresh water. Add salt and pepper to the pot, and put the pot on high with the lid secured according to your cooker's instructions. Once at pressure, leave on low for 1-2 hours (more is better, but I try for at least 90 minutes most of the time).
Once the stock has cooked, relieve the pressure either manually, or allow it to depressurize by itself. Take the stock and strain it through a colander (if you have cheesecloth, this would be helpful if you don't want the leftover herbs/peppercorns when storing the broth). Store in a tupperware and freeze if you are not going to make soup any time soon.
MEG'S AFTERTHOUGHTS: This stock is more like chicken stock concentrate. It will solidify and turn gelatinous, mainly because of the marrow that is rendered out of the bone. When using this stock for soup, I do a 2:1 ratio of stock to water. It is jam packed with flavor, so it is okay to water it down.