Wednesday, July 15

Stocking Up

Tuesday I spent a good part of the morning in the kitchen stocking up on some essentials around here - chicken stock, cooked chicken breast, black beans and cupcakes. None of this really took much of my time - the beans were in the crock pot, while the chicken simmered on the stove over low heat and the cupcakes came from a box (cake mixes are so easy and taste so delicious!)

Split chicken breasts were on sale this week for $.77/lb. I probably should have stocked up, but I decided to just spend a couple dollars. However, with the addition of a couple carrots, celery & some onion, I ended up with two cups of cooked chicken and 12 cups of stock/broth.

I use this recipe from Everyday Food as a guide:

  • 4 1/2 to 5 pounds (about 6) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on (I only had 2.5lbs, so that's what I used)
  • 1 onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 carrots, quartered crosswise
  • 2 celery, quartered crosswise
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 6 sprigs parsley (I forgot to get fresh parsley, so I used dried)
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1. Combine all ingredients in a 5-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid. Cover with water by 2 inches.
Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cover. Cook chicken until no longer pink in center and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat (avoiding bone) registers 160 degrees. about 15 minutes.

2. Transfer chicken to a rimmed baking sheet; arrange in a single layer, and let cool. (I wanted my broth/stock to be a little more flavorful and I had the time so I left the veggies in and added some leftover chicken bones I had in the freezer as well as the bones from the breasts and allowed to simmer for a few hours.) With a slotted spoon, remove and discard vegetables.

3.Strain broth through a fine-mesh sieve lined with a damp paper towel. If broth is more than 8 cups (2 quarts), return to pan; reduce over medium-high heat until you have just 8 cups. (I would recommend letting it reduce a little, but as you can see, I ended up with 12 cups rather than 8.) Once cooled, refrigerate for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

4. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin and bones. Shred with forks (see above) or chop chicken, as desired. Makes 8 cups (2 pounds) poached chicken and 8 cups broth.

We're cooking more with beans these days and I've found it's so much cheaper to buy dried beans and cook them myself. I started with cooking them on the stove, but then discovered they can be cooked in a slow cooker.

Here is how I cook beans:

  • Rinse beans and pick over
  • Put in slow cooker and cover with about 2 inches of water
  • Turn on high for 4-6 hours. (If you will be gone all day you could set it to low for 8-10 hours.)
  • Check after about 4 hours, if beans are starting to get tender, season with salt & allow to cook until desired tenderness. If not yet tender, allow to cook longer before seasoning.
  • Transfer to freezer containers or bags and allow to cool before putting in the freezer.

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