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The Power of Chicken Stock

February 6, 2019

Bad news. The Tour de Wings results need to get pushed back to next week. I’m sorry. But as it turns out, the contest is much too close to call, and I’m really going to have to take a deeper dive into the numbers. And that takes time.

The good news is that the Super Bowl is now ancient history. Nobody really needs to know which of the five wing spots we visited last Saturday was the very best. And for those who are dying of curiosity, hit me up and I’ll email you your very own scoresheet. You can grab a few friends and eat wings over the course of an afternoon.

It’s a lot of fun.

Do you know what’s not a lot of fun? Arguing with your spouse over the inclusion of chicken stock in a soup. Welcome to the unfiltered life of the Fussies at home. I’m sure you’ll be shocked to learn that it was all my fault. Truly. And I’ve since apologized. I misinterpreted a request for a vegetarian version of a butternut squash soup, as a demand.

There was a lot packed into that dispute. Not least of which was the fact that I thought we left this vegetarian thing behind us in January. I also happen to be sitting on a hefty supply of chicken stock, with enough bones to triple the volume I have on hand. Perhaps a little bit of panic seeped in at the prospect that I wouldn’t be able to use it for family meals.

Chicken stock makes food better. Here’s how I know.

Mrs. Fussy got her vegetarian version of butternut squash soup. It started off as a simple puree that had been quickly cooked with water in the Instant Pot along with some sautéed shallots and salt. Then it was all blended and strained.

The idea was that I wanted to have a flexible vegetarian soup base that could be taken in lots of different directions, depending on the mood, or other foods on the table.

I could imagine it going down a Moroccan path with dried mint, sumac, garlic, lemon, and chickpeas. I could see it taking on an Italian flair simmered with a parm rind, with a little pasta, and maybe some kind of sage gremolata. Part of me wanted to make it more French with a little cream and cultured butter to enrich it and make it a silky and decadent affair, diet be damned. Perhaps even with some homemade croutons. A little cumin, mustard seeds, and yogurt could give it an Indian flair. Fish sauce and coconut milk would bring it closer to Thai.

I could go on, but you get the point.

Somehow we went with African, enriching the soup with a little bit of peanut butter, and spicing it with some chilis, ground coriander, and a few other little odds and ends. And it was tasty, but a few cubes of my concentrated chicken stock would have made it even better.

Last night Mrs. Fussy wasn’t home for dinner. Our squabble is over. She’s just on the road for work.

We’ve had a heart-to-heart and chicken stock is back on the table for the time being. But in her absence, I put a couple of cubes in the leftover soup, and the pot was transformed. Instead of being just pureed vegetables and seasonings, the mush became a soup. It’s not that the vegetables are thinned out, but I watched the mass take on a glossy sheen from the collagen in the stock. Not only did those cubes help to soften the edges of the dish, but also enhanced its aroma with the aromatics from the stock.

For the rest of the winter I’m going to put stock in everything I can think of.

That lentil and rice stew that I love? Even better with some chicken stock thrown into it. Those turnips that have been sitting in the fridge? Those will be braised in chicken stock and glazed with some maple syrup. Maybe brightened with a squeeze of lemon. Because don’t forget, we’re also in winter citrus season.

Frozen broccoli is also going to get the chicken stock treatment. Not that I’ll change my cooking technique for this effort saving convenience food. But once it’s properly cooked, tossing it with some chicken stock and combining those over a bowl full of pasta? That’s one of my favorite fast meals, especially when topped with freshly grated parm-reg or pecorino.

Ooh. Maybe I will even make some stuffing to go with one of our Friday night roast chickens. The only problem there, I think, is that I’m the only one who likes stuffing. But I can make gravy for the young man. That may be my best hope for draining the stockpile and putting all the collected chicken bones to good use.

Good gravy. At least I’m back on my diet, so I’ll be able to sneak a little on the side.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kate permalink
    February 6, 2019 9:09 pm

    The top shelf of my upright freezer is full of all different kinds of stock. It’s liquid gold in my house.


  1. What’s Up in the Neighborhood, February 9 2019 – Chuck The Writer

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