Sunday, October 14, 2012

Ham and beans!

There are very dishes that welcome me into the fall season more than ham and beans with cornbread. First, it's SO comforting, isn't it? Second, it's just warm all the way through. Third, it's just good, dang'd it! =]

It's so easy to make, I promise.

Get out your crockpot (a sure sign that the weather has cooled down). And grab these couple things:

2 ham hocks
1# dry northern beans
Onion powder
Salt and pepper
6 c. water

Add everything into the crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours. Take out the ham hocks and pull the meat off, reserve bones and fat for dogs. =]

Put the meat back in and mix it all back up. That's it!

I always serve mine with cornbread - not the sweet Jiffy stuff, but real, honest to goodness cornbread.

Happy eating! =]

Friday, October 5, 2012

Chicken broth

I have a couple ways to make chicken (or poultry) broth. The way I most often do it is this:

Clean one whole chicken and be sure to remove the giblets (fry giblets and feed to the dogs!). Place the chicken in a large stock pot and cover with water. When I say cover, I mean cover it and then add some more water! haha. It really depends on how much stock you want. I typically do a large pot.

Put the chicken on medium high heat. Add two onions, halved. If you have some carrots and/or celery on hand, go ahead and throw those in, too. I don't typically do that, but if I have some that need to be used up, I'll add them in.

Next come the seasonings. This is really personal preference. I use kosher salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, bay leaves, and garlic powder. Since I have a large pot, I use a lot of seasoning. This is something you may want to play with and develop something that suits you best.

Once the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat and let a low boil continue for about an hour. Turn down the heat and simmer for another hour or so; maybe even two. Go wild! heh. While this is cooking, you can occasionally skim some of the fat off the top of the water.

I'll tell you the rest in a minute. I promise.

The second way to do the broth is to use carcasses that you've gotten from dinner. For instance, the day after Thanksgiving is a great time to make stock. You're home and there's a good chance that you have a huge turkey carcass waiting to be stock! Follow all the same steps as above, except you're using the carcass instead of the whole bird. Remember from the beef broth post how I said when the bones have been roasted how they bring another level of flavor? Well, the same is true with chicken or turkey stock. And you can always use chicken carcass to do this as well. Do you throw away your rotisserie chicken carcass? Shame! Make broth! =]~

Okay, so now that your broth is all done - use a large strainer and place it over another large stock pot. Carefully, pour the full pan into the strainer, so it will catch all the goodies, and the broth will fall into the other pan. If you're using a whole chicken or chicken pieces, lay those out on a cookie sheet so they can cool. Once cool, pull the meat off and use it to make something yummy! You can freeze it or use it for dinner that night! =] Once again, the pups get a nice meal of carrots and celery if I used those. You could eat it, but all the flavor is in the stock now and the veggies get pretty mushy.

Cover the stock pot with a clean towel and let it sit on the counter to cool. Once it's cooled down, pour it into quart size freezer bags or freezer safe plastic bowls. Put it in the fridge overnight and place in the freezer the next day. Tada! Chicken stock!

It looks like a lot of work, but it's really very simple. Go ahead, try it. =]