My brother has a bosom pal who is engaged to another bosom pal who is a phenomenal cook.  Upon arrival in his new West Coast city, he was a guest in their home for many a dinners.  The days following these special occasions, he regaled me with mouthwatering descriptions of the creative and sophisticated meals the bosom pal / phenomenal cook had prepared.  She and I became acquainted last year thanks to an email introduction made by my brother. Electronic pen pals.

Her skilled approach to food is wonderfully evident through her writing.  Via email she shares with me culinary discoveries both new and old.  Leftover pork carnitas added to rich chicken broth or grilled cheese sandwiches.  Drumsticks roasted with paprika and served alongside smashed potatoes.  Kale Caesar salad with toasted pine nuts - best enjoyed for breakfast.  Short ribs braised in the Dutch oven also used to make chili, red sauce for pastas, homemade bread as well as chicken and dumplings.  Not too long ago she asked if I had read a book called An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler.  As I understood it, an exceptional guide in the kitchen and equally spectacular read.  I ordered it that very day.

It is a lovely book indeed.  Chock-full of personal narratives, recipes and vivid descriptions detailing how to prepare food simply.  The author focuses on food preparation, cooking, pairing, the kitchen and most importantly, the recycling of food.  We all loathe waste in our households.  She speaks to reusing odd ends at a later date.  Lemon rinds, onion peels, stale bread, the discarded heads of carrots and seemingly useless vegetable or herb stems.  The fat from stock. Water in which pasta was previously boiled.  Bones.  The list goes on.  If you are new to cooking, love to cook or are simply looking for inspiration, this book is for you.

I was hooked fourteen pages in.  On this page, she described in a pair of sentences and the simplest of terms how to prepare chicken stock.  While I have tried my hand at many things in the kitchen, stock was not one of them.  I always found the notion somewhat daunting.  How in the world could a chicken turn water into a flavorful medley?  Of course I knew it possible but not in my kitchen.  Why make your own when you can buy the low sodium, organic variation - usually on sale - at the grocery store.  So one Saturday afternoon some time ago, I put my vegetables, herbs and odd ends in the bottom of the biggest pot I could find.  I carefully placed the chicken on top and suspiciously filled the vessel with water.  In went the spices and on went the heat.

Four hours later, I was awestruck.  Success.  We had tasty, aromatic broth and a perfectly boiled chicken.  The broth itself is marvelous and pairs beautifully with everything though I like it best with fresh vegetables.  As of late, I add a head of chopped cauliflower, a head of chopped Tuscan kale or spinach, three carrots and one cup of corn.  Sometimes we throw in butternut squash that I have previously roasted with sage and nutmeg.  Shaved Pecorino or Parmesan cheese on top and you are in business.  A drizzle of olive oil and you are big time.

The chicken is an added bonus.  I throw it on top of grilled romaine with a Tahini and Greek yoghurt dressing and roasted garbanzo beans.  A generous dollop of both mayonnaise and pesto, chopped celery and slivered almonds for a lovely chicken salad.  Two nights ago, the beau was home alone and paired it with black beans he warmed on the stove, pickled jalapenos and corn tortillas.  For lunch it likes sprouted lentils, raw spinach, boiled eggs, toasted walnuts and roasted beets I sneak from the Sunday bounty.

Goat cheese is always a match.  Two nights ago we added it back to the broth along with quinoa rotelle for our interpretation of chicken noodle soup.  The possibilities are endless.  I can tell you that in making the stock and chicken, we can eek roughly five generous meals out of it.  Two ample dinners, a pair of work lunches for me and a snack or nibble from the fridge here and there.

Many thanks to this book, we have successfully tried our hand at chicken stock.  In turn, it has become a regular staple in our home.



1 lovely organic 5 lb chicken
2 carrots chopped into 2-3 inch pieces
2 celery ribs chopped into 2-3 inch pieces
1 onion just peeled and cut in half
1 leek chopped though you can also use green onions
3 garlic cloves
3 bay leaves
1 bunch of parsley
1 bunch of thyme
1 bunch of rosemary
1 TBS star anise
1 3 inch cinnamon stick
1 TBS Meyer lemon peel
1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
A charitable amount of kosher salt

Let's get cracking:

 1.  Salt the chicken generously.

 2.  In the bottom of a massive stock pot (mine is not so massive so a bigger boat is on the Christmas list) add the carrots, celery, onion, leek or green onions, bay leaves, parsley, thyme and rosemary.  Put the chicken on top and fill it with water so that it covers the bird.

 3.  Spice up the pot with mentioned ingredients, add salt and bring the mixture to a boil.  Note this will take some time given the amount of water you are using.  Once it has come to a boil, lower it to a simmer.

 4.  I like to let mine simmer for approximately 4 hours.  You will need to check on it every now and then and skim the top.  Give the pot a bit of time and then taste and adjust the salt as necessary.

 5.  Once it is done simmering, I let it cool down and I put everything in the refrigerator over night.  You don’t have to do this – you can go to work immediately.  If you want to tackle it now, skip to points 6 and 7.

 6.  Skim the fat off the top of the broth.  "Schmaltz" - this can be reused.  I carefully move the bird to a platter for stripping.  It will be falling apart at the joints.  You can easily remove the skin and start pulling the meat off the bones.

 7.  Strain the broth.  The carrots are glorious at this point so I like to nibble as I work.  The broth is now ready for business and you can do with it what you please.

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