Because chef Ris Lacoste was starting her holiday meal with soup, she wanted to make its stock from scratch. That means the meal preparation has an added bonus: a tender poached chicken for sandwiches, soup or a separate meal. The poaching is done slowly, which yields a clearer stock.
Normally, the chef would not add ham hocks or salt. But she wanted the chicken to be flavored and the ham's smokiness to play through to the final product: Sweet Potato Bourbon Soup With Ham and Pecans (see related recipe in Recipe Finder). The meat of the ham hocks can be shredded and added to the soup garnish.
Make Ahead: The stock can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated.
Servings: 4.5 quarts
- 1 3 3/4-pound whole chicken, plus the neck and heart (discard the liver)
- 5 quarts water
- 1 (12 ounces) onion, coarsely chopped (3 cups)
- 3 large stalks celery, coarsely chopped (2 cups)
- 2 medium (unpeeled; just over 8 ounces) carrots, cut into chunks (2 cups)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon (about 20) whole black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt (to flavor the chicken)
- 3 to 4 stems mixed herbs, such as sage, thyme and flat-leaf parsley, tied with kitchen twine into a bouquet garni
- 1 1/3 pounds smoked ham hocks
Place the chicken, breast side down, in a medium stock pot; add the water, vegetables, salt, peppercorns, bay leaves, the bouquet garni of herbs and the ham hocks. The chicken should be covered. Bring just to a boil over high heat; this should take about 30 minutes. Then immediately reduce the heat to low; let settle for a minute or so, then skim any foam or fat from the surface of the liquid, using a bowl and ladle placed nearby.
Cook uncovered for 25 minutes on low heat just until the chicken is tender and the legs begin to pull away from the body; skim the surface as needed to keep the stock as clear as possible.
When the chicken is cooked through, transfer it to a bowl, then use a fine-mesh strainer or China cap to strain the stock into a separate (at least 5-quart) container. Reserve the chicken for later use and discard the vegetables, herbs and peppercorns.
If not using the stock right away, let it cool to room temperature before refrigerating or freezing.
From chef Ris Lacoste.
Tested by Ris Lacoste.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.