Thursday, September 17, 2009
...and ready to start cooking!
First order of business: stock up on stock. Nothing beats homemade chicken stock, and since I had depleted my stash, I got out my 21-quart "cauldron". I use Ina Garten's (Barefoot Contessa's) recipe. I found 10-pound bags of chicken leg quarters for only $7.90, so two bags of the leg quarters went into the stockpot. I followed the rest of the recipe pretty much as written, though I simmered the stock a little longer. When it was done cooking, I let it rest for a while, and then skimmed the stock, strained it, and chilled it overnight, which allowed the fat to solidify on top - much easier to remove that way! My efforts resulted in 8 quarts of stock. Liquid gold!
I decided to immediately take advantage of some of the stock by making one of my favorite soups: Butternut Squash Soup with Port. It's creamy and rich with no cream (though I did use a few drops to garnish the soup - purely optional, of course!) I even left out the 2 tablespoons of butter that was to be stirred into the soup just before serving. I didn't even miss it. At all. It's been rainy and the temperatures have dropped a little bit - it's starting to feel like autumn and this soup was perfect for an autumn evening. A little crostini to go with, and I can almost see the leaves changing colors before my eyes -
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
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.
Source: Copyright, 2002, Barefoot Contessa Family Style