Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Stocking up on stock

The one sign that's hard to pass up in a grocery store is "Whole fryers, 59 cents a pound." On sale, they sit like little plastic-wrapped, slightly lumpy bowling balls. They are sold as fresh, but they are darn near frozen, maybe a degree or two above. Still, they going into the cart, four at a time.

Spatchcocking a chicken
Once home, I line them up and begin to cut.

I usually spatchcock two of them: I take them out of the bag, put the neck, heart and gizzard in the stock pot, set the liver aside, rinse and dry the chicken well, take a pair of kitchen scissors and cut up each side of the backbone, which then goes in the stock pot, too. Flatten out the birds, season and  put the two of them in a 9x13-inch glass casserole, put in a 450-degree oven for 45 minutes or until the juices run clear. They come out beautifully brown and easy to carve.

The cooked, flattened chicken
Meanwhile, the other two are separated into wings, thighs and breasts; everything else goes in the stock pot, skin and all. I add a couple of bay leaves, some pepper corns, a couple of carrots and an onion. I cover the parts with water, bring to almost a boil, then turn it on low to simmer for several hours until the meat is falling off the bones. I then strain the broth and put it in the fridge to separate the fat. I pick off whatever meat looks good for chicken salad or soup and throw the rest out. I usually end up with at least 4 quarts of broth and enough chicken for about 10-12 dinners for two, not counting soup.

I usually fry the livers in a little olive oil, seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic, then eat them on toasts. If you don't have a cholesterol problem, they are good for you, high in iron and other nutrients: thiamin, zinc, copper and manganese, and Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12 and folate.

The entire process usually takes me about an hour and a half, not counting the time it takes to simmer the broth.

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