Happy Nice Time Fight! Oh, So You Think You Don’t Need Chicken Soup, HENGHHH???

Happy Nice Time Fight! Oh, So You Think You Don't Need Chicken Soup, HENGHHH???A most necessary rebuttal to Mojopo’s terrible chicken soup libel, by Happy reader Delaney Blom.

Really, Happy, I expect more from your culture pages. First, you slightly raised my hackles by suggesting that liquor isn’t good to cure the cold, but thankfully you made an exception for me and my kind**. Then you really went over the edge and denied the curative and preventative medicinal properties of chicken soup, which have been demonstrated anecdotally with such frequency as to become lore. Everyone knows lore don’t lie.

Any self-respecting home cook keeps adequate reserves of homemade chicken stock in the freezer, for times of illness and for general culinary use. Yes, it takes time to make. That is why we make a shitload and keep adequate reserves in our freezer. Keep in mind that we’re talking about real-deal stock, not the meatish and salty water product available in cans and cartons from your grocer. [Editrix’s note: Perhaps if Mojopo weren’t a BIG JERK who drinks her chicken soup FROM A CAN like some kind of BIG JERK she would have a store of chicken carcasses at the ready in her freezer her own bad self.]

HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK

1. Collect chicken bones over time. When you have a nice chicken dinner (i.e., every Sunday, unless you’re a fucking heathen), pick the leftover meat from the carcass for chicken salad or whatever, and put the bones in a big-ass freezer bag in your freezer. It is not mandatory that you cook the chicken yourself. Your local delicatessen or Peruvian rotisserie sells whole chickens cooked and ready to eat. It doesn’t even have to be a whole bird; the pieces frequently come with bones. (If this grosses you out because someone was gnawing on that bone, maybe you wouldn’t be sick if you weren’t such a germaphobe and exposed yourself to some pathogens every now and then.) Finally, if you buy chickens whole, then cut the backs out to lay the bastards flat on your grill, throw those backs in the bone bag, and you get a gold star for knife skills and being an adult about handling raw meat.

2. When the bone bag is full, you’re ready to cook some stock! Put the frozen block of bones into your biggest pot (this is called a stock pot; you make stock in it). Throw some salt, vegetables, herbs, and spices in there: a whole onion, a few carrots, some celery stalks with the leaves still attached, a handful of cloves of garlic, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, the 57th Street Bridge Song, a bay leaf or two, peppercorns, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, etc. [Editrix here again: and a lemon! Not a whole lemon. Cut it in half, idiot.] This isn’t an exact science, people; whatever you’ve got, whatever you like. The bones are the important thing. Now fill the pot with water, almost all the way to the top.

3. Put the pot on high heat and keep an eye on it until it boils. Depending on how well you picked the carcasses, you may need to skim some foam from the top as it approaches boiling. When it’s about to boil and spitting water all over your stove top, turn it way down to a very gentle simmer. DO NOT PUT A LID ON IT!!!11!!1

4. What’s going on now is that all of the connective tissue in the chicken parts and vegetables is being extracted into the water. This takes hours or days. Don’t worry about it. Check it every two hours or so. Top off the water in the pot if you’ve lost a lot to evaporation. Push the floating bits down into the water. Chuckle at how the onion bobs back to the top. Enjoy the aroma filling your home.

5. It’s done cooking! How do you know? Scoop a bone out and crush it under the gentle pressure of your thumb and forefinger. Turn the heat off, and wait for it to cool enough that you won’t burn the shit out of yourself.

6. Pour the broth through a colander into a large container. Let that cool a little more before putting the container in the fridge. (If it’s cold outside, that’s a good place to let it cool).

7. Again, depending on how well you cleaned the carcasses, there may be a good deal of fat in your stock. During cooling, it will have risen to the top of the container and solidified. Take that shit out. Some people save it for other purposes (cooking, spread on toast, personal lubrication), so consider that. Marvel at how thick and gelatinous your stock is when it’s chilled or at room temperature, unlike that canned or cartoned piss water you’ve been using your whole life.

8. BOOM!! Gallons of chicken stock ready to use or freeze. Put some in ice cube trays for a kick-ass secret ingredient for fortifying sauces. Those leftover Chinese food soup containers are good for freezing larger amounts, but I usually use quart-sized freezer bags. The bags can be a fucking mess if you’re not careful, so here are a few pro tips: “storage” bags are not the same as “freezer” bags; make sure the zippy part of the bag is clean of any stock or schmaltz before you close the bag; put the bags on a cookie sheet in the freezer until they’re solid.

9. Oh, you’re sick and whiny about soup? Take a block of stock out of your freezer and thaw it out in a pot on the stove. Chop celery and carrots to put into the thawed out stock and simmer them for a few minutes. Bring it up to a boil and add egg noodles. [Editrix: or rice or cut up potatoes or go double-starch crazy and add BOTH! Also do you have some random, like, bell peppers or broccoli or other veg? Put that in too!] When the noodles are done, ladle up a bowl, squeeze on some lemon juice and/or Tabasco sauce, and garnish with herbs of your choosing (parsley, chives, rosemary, cannabis). You’re going to be better before you know it. Have a soda on the side.

** By the way, the real whiskey remedy (passed down from an early 20th c. pharmacist) is: 1) obtain a bag of lemons and a pint bottle of rye whiskey (this recipe is from when you bought liquor in pints, quarts, gallons, and barrels. 375-500 mL in le metrique); 2) drink half the bottle while cutting the lemons into little wedges; 3) stuff the lemons into the half-drunk bottle until is is full; 4) recap the bottle and shake vigorously (the bottle, not your booze-craving body); 5) finish the bottle. Voila. Repeat if necessary, when you wake up.

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  • Mojopo

    This is some good information from a HEALTHY PERSON. Curative? Think again, sucker.

    • Fitzgerald Chesterfield

      An ounce of prevention . . .(obviously, I live my life by old wives’ tales and adages.)

      • Mojopo

        You got me there! I failed to prevent. Love your recipe, too.

        • Fitzgerald Chesterfield

          Thanks! I hope you feel better!

  • Mojopo

    Also, loved the ancient prescription. I am going to put that in my ancient remedy note book between bloodletting and using fecal matter and honey to grow hair. Thank you!

    • Fitzgerald Chesterfield

      Aha, that’s why my ass crack is so hairy! (I had heard honey was a good hemorrhoid remedy.)

  • I THOROUGHLY enjoyed reading every word of that. And even though I have no cold, I am getting dressed and heading to the store for that barrel of whiskey and some lemons. (There’s already a shitload of fab chicken stock in my freezer because the Frenchies taught me that.)

  • unhipcat

    so, when you cut the lemon in half, do you put in only the half or the both two halfses?

  • rebecca

    I approve of this FIGHTING TO THE DEATH.

  • DinkyBossetti

    People should listen to this guy. He knows things. One time, I called him specifically to ask how to make stock, and now I am not a total idiot in the kitchen, and I don’t waste my chicken carcasses.

  • barefoothippy
  • Annie Towne

    Plagiarism alert!! I said all this in my comment to Mojopo! Where’s my royalties payment???!!!??? And if you really want good stock, you have to preserve the gelatin from the bottom of the chicken roasting pan. Collect it while liquid, chill it in the fridge, skim off the fat (it will all go to the top and be easily removed), put it in the freezer to make/add to stock. You can also roll it up and put it in a zipper bag in the freezer and cut off small pieces to add to rice for flavor.Now cough up the check!

    • Mojopo

      You save the gelatin? That is some kind of EPIC self restraint. I lick the pan clean. And then I broil the skin with olive oil and salt, until it’s like bacon. The joy this brings adds years to my life.

      • Annie Towne

        That sounds fabulous. I always eat the skin on my roast chicken, but only on my own (store-bought is too inferior to spend calories on). When I roast a chicken I pre-heat the oven to 425 and then stick the chicken in to sear the skin, immediately turning it down to 350 for the actual roasting. I baste frequently, but stop at least 20 minutes before it’s done so that the skin is very crispy. This technique also keeps the breast very moist. I always use a thermometer: the “take it out when the leg joint is loose” method will guarantee an over-cooked and dry bird.Another source of yumminess: I cover the chicken with butter, garlic, and herbs, but also (and this is a secret, just between us) I sprinkle cinnamon, cloves, and fresh nutmeg over it. And during at least one basting, I use lemon juice. As you might imagine, I am kind of famous for my roast chicken.

        • Mojopo

          I wish we could cook chickens together! My recipe is similar to yours. All I have done this winter is freeze to death and make chickens. I actually start the bird out thigh-side up, and flip. Whatever skin doesn’t disappear at dinner time is used later. I keep fresh herbs growing in the window, too, but I put garlic and half an overripe orange in the pooper.

          • rebecca

            Time to start your collection of freezer carcasses, mojo.

          • Mojopo

            I think I will take my mind off the world and become a hoarder. I’ll start with chicken carcasses and work towards tampon boxes and expired milk.

          • Annie Towne

            No, no! Don’t hoard chicken carcasses! That’s like the crazy girl in the movie, “Girl, Interrupted” who stuck them all under her bed till they rotted. Go straight to the tampon boxes–much more normal. Or at least “normal”. And I wish we could roast chickens together, too. There aren’t enough Chicken Roasting Clubs–they’re all Book Clubs these days.

    • Fitzgerald Chesterfield

      You were way too nice, but I’ll split what the editrix gives me for this with you.How do you make gravy if you save your drippings for stock?