Pressure Cooker Chicken Stock.... and maximizing the use of a whole chicken. Growing up I saw that my mom knew how to make something out of nothing. Well, or so goes the saying. But I was always amazed to watch her "stretch" a whole chicken to feed a large family... and make 2 or 3 different dishes at the same time. From that one single chicken, my mom would reserve the chicken breasts so that she could make us one of our favorite meals, the Romanian Snitel with mashed potatoes. With the rest of the chicken, she would make the Romanian Dumpling Soup... and then used the cooked chicken(from the soup) to make the Romanian Ostropel. Nowadays, I challenge myself to see if I can come up with as many dishes as I can.... granted there aren't as many mouths to feed, but it's actually quite fun to see how I can "stretch" a whole chicken:).
I grew up with plenty of brothers and sisters, and my parents taught us eat everything off our plates. None of us were given choices if we didn't like the meal that was being served. We ate what was put before us.... My dad worked hard to provide for us, and my mom worked hard to stretch the dollars. Mom rarely let anything go to waste(or throw away for that matter), but made good use of what she had on hand. Most times the dishes she made couldn't be duplicated because she would use whatever ingredients she had in the fridge.... substituting one thing for another and often using leftovers to make something new.
So when I got married and started cooking on my own, I took with me what I had learned as a kid. Started cooking from scratch and maximizing the use of my ingredients....was real glad for my husband who shared the same values as I, and was reared the same way. Real glad... because it makes life so much easier:). It's wonderful to be content... in abundance or lack thereof... with a bowl of beans, or with a plate of shrimp scampi.
In any case, I thought it would be nice to share what I sometimes make in my own kitchen.... how a whole chicken can often be used to make more than one dish, even though the dishes are scaled down somewhat. But I've posted a few photos just to show what I mean...
I usually cut up a whole chicken into 8 parts... and then remain with the ribs, neck, back, breast bones and wing tips. I'll use the bones to make a stock and then remove all the cooked meat from the bones to make a smaller portion of the Romanian Salata de Boeuf.... I know, some people wouldn't even think of extracting the meat from the bones. And for the most part, you don't necessarily get a ton of meat... but it's enough to make use of.
With the dark meat I'll make other dishes ... which may include Romanian Chicken Meatballs, Chicken Cacciatore, or the Rosemary Chicken I just posted recently. With the breast meat, I'll use it to make all sorts of dishes... from lettuce wraps, to Chicken Picatta, to Baked Chicken Cordon Bleu, to Cashew Chicken... to name just a few. But really, the possibilities are endless.
So in this post, I'll share the quicker version of making a homemade chicken stock... using a pressure cooker. This version doesn't involve browning the bones before making the stock.... which is how it's normally done. But the stock still has a ton of flavor, and it's just simpler to place all the ingredients in a pot and let it cook away. The stock can then be used to make all sorts of soups... or it can be used to make other dishes as well. Hope you enjoy...
Note: If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can still make the stock in a regular pot... just cook it for longer, usually double the time.... 1 1/2 - 2 hours on low.
You will need:
ribs, back, neck, wing tips, breast bones of a 4 lb whole chicken
2 carrots, peeled and cut in half
2 celery stalks, peeled, cut in half
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
2 garlic cloves, quartered
1 bay leaf, optional
12-16 cups water
1- 1 1/2 TBS kosher salt
onion skin, turmeric, optional*
* only if you want a "yellowish" tinge to the stock. I sometimes skip this, but I have used a couple of onion skins in the past, and it makes a beautiful "homemade" looking stock.
1. Cut up whole chicken into 8 parts, remove most of the breast meat and set aside. Place the breast ribs in the cooking vessel. Add the chicken backs, the ribs, neck bone, and wing tips.... if you are planning on de-boning the chicken legs/thighs, add those bones as well.
2. Add the carrots to the pot along with the celery, onion , bay leaf(if using) and garlic cloves,
3. Add water and turmeric/onion skin(only if using).... make sure you have a large enough pressure cooker, so that you still have about 1/3 open space from the top of the lid. Basically, you don't want to fill the pot all the way to the top.
4. Add salt.... you may want to use just 1 TBS salt if you are planning on using less water, to get a more concentrated stock. You can always add more at the end if need be.
Place lid on top and bring to pressure. Lower heat to maintain pressure(on low) and cook for 40 minutes.
5. Remove pot from the stove and place it in the sink. Release pressure naturally.... or quick release, though you will get some sputtering liquid coming out, which is normal..... that's why the sink:)
6. Remove lid when pressure valve has fallen and strain the stock. Adjust seasoning, if need be.
7. Allow the meat to cool enough to handle, then remove as much meat as possible form all the bones. Reserve the carrots if you are planning on making the Romanian salata de boeuf.
8. Store stock in small containers... and freeze for all sorts of recipes. OR use the stock immediately to make soups of all sorts... or freeze half and use the other half. It's up to you:)...