Monday, March 2, 2009


This is my new favorite cookbook. Of course I have a new favorite each week, but this week I'm really loving the Barefoot Contessa's Back to Basics. I just got it, and it has some really great food inside. It's cooking food the way I like - Simple. Not that I don't like food that has 1200 steps to prepare, because I make food like that all the time, but some of the best foods I have ever had have actually been very simple, with only a handful of ingredients. 

It was hard deciding what to make first, but I decided I'd kill 2 birds with one stone. I needed more chicken stock, and she had a recipe that was a little different than what I'm used to -- so what the heck. Chicken Stock it is!

I usually just do the standard Michael Rhulman stock, so it was time to try something different anyway. 

The things that were different for me was, first of all, she uses whole raw chickens. I usually just saved my bones and used those. Also, hers called for parsnips (which are optional and I didn't have so I left them out) and dill. Dill? Hmm. I wouldn't have normally used that. And I was afraid to make 7 quarts of stock with dill -- you know, just in case it sucks. But I already omitted the parsnips, so I guess if I was going to make her stock, the least I could do is make it like she does. And if she uses dill, fine. I'll use dill too then. You never know unless you try, right? And none of her recipes have ever let me down before. So anyway, I'm glad I did, because it was awesome! You can't distinctively taste the dill, but there is a background flavor that is there that you can't quite identify, yet it just adds a delicious flavor. De-Licious. 

I cut her recipe by one third, and that is what's reflected below, because I only had 2 chickens in the freezer, and I only had so many containers to store it in  :o)

Out came my biggest pot. I put in 2 whole, raw chickens. 2 carrots, cut lengthwise. 3 small stalks of celery, 2 onions, unpeeled and cut in 4ths. One head garlic, cut in half, 20 sprigs parsley, 15 sprigs thyme, 20 fresh dill sprigs (or 2 tbsp dried dill wrapped up in cheesecloth). Lastly, 2 tbsp Kosher salt, and 2 tsp whole peppercorns. Then I added 5 quarts of water. Bring to a boil and then drop to a low simmer and let it simmer for 4 hours. 

I strained it way more than she did though. She says to just strain it through a colander, then put in containers and refrigerate. That 'aint enough for me though.  I strained out the big stuff, then used my fat separator, then strained it twice through all 3 of my wire strainers, then a final strain through a cloth lined strainer. Then it was peeeeeeerfect! 

And since I used the whole chickens, I also ended up with 2 tons of shredded chicken. So it looks like tomorrow might be burrito night.