Each week when all the kids leave, I always feel guilty about the random leftovers veggies in the fridge. I’ve been making stock for years (only every so often when the mood strikes and I have been organized enough to save the chicken carcass), but I usually just buy low-sodium stock at the grocery store and get on with it. The other Sunday evening, I was once again staring at my fridge when I had one of those inspiration moments, I WILL MAKE STOCK. And…I decided to up my game by roasting the carcasses and vegetables first.
I use chicken stock for much more than just soups. I sub in chicken stock in all types of recipes: I make rice with half chicken stock half water (tastes so much better), sub in a small amount of chicken stock in Asian recipes to reduce the sodium, use it to create quick sauces for pasta and finally nothing is more helpful when deglazing a pan than a bit of chicken stock. Happy cooking!
Chicken carcass, make sure all skin is removed, but it’s okay if there are bits of chicken
1 onion sliced in quarters with skin left on
Handful of carrots
Handful of celery
A few springs of fresh herbs
½ cup of olive oil
1 tsp Kosher salt
Preheat oven to 400.
Arrange chicken carcass and all of the vegetables on a foil-lined baking sheet.
Toss with olive oil and Kosher salt.
Roast for 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and with tongs carefully place the chicken carcass and vegetables in a stockpot or crockpot.
Add as much water as you can to your stockpot or crockpot (in my big crockpot I manage to add 12 cups of water.
Simmer for a minimum of 2 hours and up to overnight. For me this is an after a chicken dinner activity. So I roast while cleaning up the kitchen, set my crockpot before bed and in the morning - my house smells amazing AND I have a ton of delicious stock!
I absolutely love the brightness and flavor lemons and limes add to food. Years ago, I had an epiphany – if the recipe was calling for lemon or lime juice why not add the zest? No matter what I am making – marinades, salads, sauces – I always zest my lemon or lime. It takes just a few seconds of your time to really deepen the flavor and texture of any dish. All you need is a microplane grater and you are ready to go!
Ginger in a tube is such a time and money saver! You can find it next to the fresh herbs in the produce section. It keeps in your fridge for a few months and is SO MUCH easier to use than fresh ginger – not to mention less expensive! In just few seconds you can add pureed ginger to your recipe.
We all know that you should cook with ground turkey and chicken much more frequently than you use ground beef. But what about the fact that ground turkey and chicken just don’t have that much flavor? Over many years of experimenting, I’ve figured out a way to amp up the flavor in lean proteins while still keeping it a super healthy choice.
First, you need to add a little oil. I always start with adding a tablespoon or two of olive or canola oil to my pan. I let the oil heat up and then I add my ground protein. I also don’t use a spatula – I think it’s much easier to brown with a spoon and you can be so much more precise – no more of everything flipping over the side of the pan. Second – whatever the flavor of your dish – add those seasonings while you are browning the ground turkey or chicken – don’t wait until afterwards.
Why you ask? Because lean proteins don’t have that much flavor naturally. So, by adding the seasonings in at the beginning you create layers of flavor that really make a difference in your dish.
For example, if I am browning turkey for spaghetti, I will start with olive oil, add the protein, and then add some Kosher salt, minced garlic and oregano. It completely changes how you meal tastes! After browning, I drain the water/fat off and continue with the recipe.
Today when making my Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps, I browned the ground chicken along with minced onion, garlic and ginger. I then drained the fat and continued with the recipe. The flavor was fantastic.
So – next time you are browning lean protein try this trick. You will never go back!
Do you love Asian food but worry about the sodium? I know I do! Even if you are making the meal yourself, you still have to be careful about the sodium in different ingredients. Always make sure to use the low-sodium version while cooking. My secret technique is to use a small amount of chicken broth to replace certain ingredients. For example, you can replace a 1/4 cup of chicken broth for soy sauce in many recipes. The healthiest chicken broth is made by you, but there are many brands out there that are healthy choices. Check out my Chicken Yakitori recipe for an example of a chicken broth swap.
Cilantro is the herb I use the most…why? So many reasons, but mostly because I just love its fresh and bright taste.
How do you store it? Gently wash, blot or air dry, then wrap loosely in a few paper towels, place in a ziploc bag and put it in the fridge. If you change the damp paper towels every 2 days your cilantro will remain fresh for 5-7 days.
How do you use it? Cilantro is great sprinkled on salads, lots of main dishes (Mexican, Asian and Indian meals are great places to start) and is terrific in dressings and marinades.
I know it’s tempting to pick up the cooking wine sold on grocery store shelves…you are there, you know you have a recipe that calls for wine…it would save you another stop. Don’t! “Cooking wine” contains salt and additives that will at best not enhance your dish and at worst ruin the flavor profile.
Instead buy a simple and inexpensive (I am talking $8 max) wine. For white you want a dry, crisp white wine (pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc) . Avoid “oakey” chardonnays! For red wine you have more choices. Any grape works fine as long as it is a dry red wine.
If you enjoy cooking with wine consider buying boxed wine. It’s a super value and keeps for weeks!
Garlic is an essential ingredient in almost everything I cook…but it takes time to peel and chop. Minced garlic – sold in the produce section at the grocery store – is such a terrific time saver! All you need to do is measure and scoop. When a recipe calls for 1 clove you simply substitute 1 teaspoon of minced garlic.