the changing of the seasons is pretty subtle in santa barbara but i've been feeling it gradually over the last week or two. i see it in the quality of the light and feel it in the hint of brisk in the breeze. even though our indian summers often last until halloween, it's definitely feeling like fall's upon us and making me want to hunker down and get cozy. it's cool to see the way bonzo, who is gloriously oblivious to the concept of time and goes by his body's clock alone, is starting to adjust to the season's change. bedtimes have been gradually shifting, following the darker evenings. the rhythm of our evening just seems to run smoother when the sun and moon are on toddler time, i've realized.
and so, 'tis the season for stocks, soups and stews – and my favorite cast iron pots.
my goal this year is to have chicken stock (homemade, of course) on hand at all times for making soups, quinoa and stuff. and just for drinking broth – bonzo's fave.
it couldn't be easier to make and i know there are no rules and a zillion ways to do it but here's how we do it around here. i'm a stickler for organic meat and produce – it's so important.
4 bone-in, organic, cage-free chicken breasts
1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup-ish yellow onion, roughly cut (peel on)
1 cup-ish chopped carrot
3/4 cup-ish chopped celery
1-2 sprigs fresh thyme
4-5 sprigs of parsley
1 small bay leaf
handful of peppercorns
generous pinch of sea salt
put chicken breasts in the bottom of a big stock pot – i'm in love with my nine quart pot!
throw the onion, carrots, celery, bay leaf and peppercorns on top and fill pot with cold filtered water, about 3-4 quarts and your apple cider vinegar and let sit for a half hour or so.
bring it to just-about-boiling then keep it at a nice simmer so there are a few bubbles popping up but it's not boiling. skim off any ick that rises to the surface. cook a couple hours (or until chicken is cooked). continue to cook but remove breasts and let them cool until you can handle them to remove most of the meat. set meat aside and put bones (gross, i know) back into the stock pot and continue to cook for as long as you want, really. another few hours or more. i like to add the herbs and salt when i'm about a half hour or so from the finish line. then turn heat off and strain – press out as much broth from the vegetables as you can in the strainer.
this recipe will yield quite a bit of shredded chicken but i can put it to good use quite easily. i use part of it for chicken noodle soup, which i can make with the stock – and it's pretty easy to come up with other ways to eat the rest. shredded chicken is good in sandwiches, salads, seasoned for tacos etc.