Local Harmony

February 10, 2009 at 9:01 am

Rob Gardner

We call this corner of the Beet, the Local Family, but mostly it is the rutabaga rantings of a still too stout, middle-aged, lapsed lawyer who’s greatest contributions to the eat local movement continues to be a constant defense of coffee drinking and a fervent rooting interest in Wisconsin cheeses–just the other day this Local Dad was haranguing the nice woman who supplied cheeses to a Slow Food meeting, “why no Wisconsin.”  Where stand the rest of the clan.

Two teens play their part by never tiring of the surest supply of winter fruit, the apple, as well as just as eagerly downing any rutabaga put near them.  The fact that but one will try a salad with pig ears, however local said ear may be, is no strike against them.  I mean no one’s more ready to buy one of Angie Ackerman’s fresh-made eggrolls at a winter market than these two girls.  Still, today is not the day for the Phantom Planet set.

Today, today we hail Mom, the local Mom.  Mom, we must hear, rose mightily to the chicken stock challenge.  (For those not following closely, Dad drew the local line on the other side of Costco boxed chicken stock, no matter how organic and free range the package proclaimed.  “We have principles”, he declared.)  Yesterday after a coffee break at our favorite local coffee establishment, Caffe Italia (why yes, they do roast their own beans), Mom used a rather captive Dad to go chicken shopping.  “Caputo’s“, she directed.  I argued no good chickens in there, but it was too late.  Blood oranges, honeybells, butter (Wisconsin) on sale, and a tin of olive oil (“Mado uses this one”) later, Dad was right on the Caputo chicken front (for the local record, Caputo’s had plenty of Michigan apples and Wisconsin potatoes).  We moved along to Kolatek, the outstanding Polish market on Harlem.  We knew we would find Amish chicken’s from Indiana there.

Flash forward a bit.  The Local Mom is desperate for a stock recipe that does not waste the $20 worth of chickens she just bought.  Or put it this way, whatever she earns back on the Costco returns won’t equal today’s purchases.  She considers dividing the newly bought chicken into eatable parts and stockable parts, but thinks better of that idea.  Then, lo and behold, she starts rummaging through the freezer.  She finds that various local chickens over the year have, yes have, yielded enough necks, backs, gizzards, hearts, heads (yes), feet (yes!) (and for gelatin too!!) that she is on her way.  Want more?  Over time she has also packed away the green tops of leeks.  She had mushrooms still around from her thrifty mushroom purchase a few weeks ago (“they were so cheap”).  She has loads of grotty vegetables, carrots and parsnips, just waiting to be put to their final use.  Dad is long asleep dreaming of tomorrow’s blog while the Local Mom does the final straining of this large, large batch of chicken stock.  Harmony reigns.

Recipe from entirely local ingredients below (spices excepted).

Step one: With every local chicken used, save it all!  Put those parts in the freezer for later use.

Step two: Find all the chicken parts shoved in freezer; make sure whole chickens newly bought also get put into freezer for some other use.

Step three: Gather saved leek tops, find all grotty vegetables including tired leek, carrots, parsnips, mushrooms that fit in your pot.  In our case we were using a very large, 20 gallon stock pot.  In addition to said stock veg, use at least one good sized onion.

Step four: Put all your chicken stuff and your vegetable matters in the pot.  Fill with cold water, enough to cover the chicken by a few inches.  Add thyme, bay leaves, salt, peppercorns, adding an amount that “seems right”, you want flavor but not curry. 

Step five: Bring to a boil, skim the foam, turn to your lowest stove-top setting.  Skim occasionally.

Step six: Wait six hours for a fully saturated brew.  Strain, pushing the leftover materials to extract as much juice as possible.

Step seven: Skim, this is best accomplished after chilling the stock.  Package in various sized containers for multiple uses. 

Coming tomorrow.  Let’s play use the local chicken.