Monday morning came far too early for my liking. The cheerful weatherman predicted late afternoon showers, so I took my waterproof jacket. But I was hoping it comes after I'm safe and sound at home.
It just started sprinkling on the trip home, so I still got on the expressway (I avoid it in a heavy downpour; people get weird around here when it rains).
After treating the cats (of course) but before changing clothes, I got out the big stock pot. I took out that 6 pound chicken and opened it up. I rinsed it off and went to pull out the neck and giblets (I use the neck, gizzard and heart, but not the liver in my stocks). To my surprise, they weren't there! Oh well, moving on...
I covered that bad boy with about six inches of cold water (maybe two or three gallons of water in this big stock pot). I added a little salt, some whole black peppercorns and three bay leaves. Note: you definitely want to under-season the water at this point. Why? Because, in making stock, you concentrate the flavors, so a normal amount of salt at this time will be way too salty four hours from now!
I used my digital thermometer and when the alarm went off at 180 degrees, I turned it down to simmer. Of course, I had to adjust the heat back and forth to maintain that crucial 180 degrees F. I set one timer for an hour and one for three hours and walked away.
I revisited it about every 15 minutes just to skim off the froth. When the one-hour timer went off, I pulled out the chicken, sliced off the now-poached chicken breasts (I'll use them for something else, you see) and put the rest back in the pot.
Two hours later I added the Mirepoix and herbs. For my aromatic vegetables, I used celery, onions, carrots and some garlic cloves (none of which I peeled, only rough-chopped). For my herbs, I used a handful of dried parsley, the same amount of thyme and a little red pepper flakes (got to have that hit of heat for a kick).
When the alarm went off an hour later, the stock was done. Now, no way could I lift that filled stock pot so I used my 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup over and over again to get it all out. I poured each cupful through a strainer into my middle-sized stock pot. I put six quarts of stock into the freezer and still had plenty left for my chicken soup (which went in the fridge).
After I picked through the mess to get out all the chicken meat, the bones and veggies all went into the trash. I rinsed out the two stock pots, but decided they could wait until tomorrow to get washed. Everything else went into the dishwasher. I went into the bedroom, turned off the TV and went to bed. It was 11:10 PM.