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A Chef's Tour of the National Restaurant Show in Chicago

For the past 96 years, Chicago has hosted the National Restaurant Show, or NRA. Unfortunately, the...Read more

Chicago Hot Dogs, Hold the Ketchup

Each time my parents come to visit Chicago, I try to outdo their last trip. I fill it with new...Read more

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Accidental Grilling in Chicago

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Tips from a MacGyver Wanna Be

Posted by Liz on Sep 18, 2011

I love making chicken stock. For me, it’s a therapeutic activity. I make stock to fill my house with the smell of comfort. I make stock to make me feel good. I make stock so that I know when I create a dish with homemade chicken stock; I truly made all components from scratch. The steps involved in making stock help me relax. In my hectic-paced schedule, my dinners often fall casualty to the mantra of make it fast, and make it easy. But making stock helps me to relax.

So it’s no surprise to me that I like to make stock on vacation. I just got back from 11 days in the north woods, in a one room cabin on a lake, surrounded by nature. On day three, I was finally starting to relax and escape from the day to day thoughts that run around in my head and keep me up at night. I woke up at 6am, because the sun coming into the cabin off the lake is so bright and brilliant it would be a crime if I slept in. I knew it was time to make stock. My cabin is stocked with the barest of kitchen essentials; a few pots and pans, a small plastic cutting board, a Mr. Coffee machine and a few kitchen utensils. The stove is a four burner apartment stove from the 1940’s that I have to light every time I want to spark up the oven. I bring with me from home my Le Creuset bouillabaisse soup pot and it takes up two of the four very small burners.

But what I wanted to share with you was how I impressed even myself. I realized four hours into making my stock; I had forgotten at home a fine mesh strainer that I use to skim off the fat from the stock. Without the strainer, my stock was going to be cloudy and speckled with loose chicken bits and vegetables. Obsessed with making a perfectly clear stock, I looked around the cabin kitchen for a solution. I realized that I had even bigger problems; I didn’t even have a bowl to strain the stock into. So I ran to the car and remembered I had a large mason jar returned to me from a canning project last fall. Next I needed a strainer. Hmmmm. Could I use the coffee filters from the electric Mr. Coffee and stretch them over the mouth of the Mason jar attached with a rubber band ? Genius! It took a few tries to get the filter in the right place… but ultimately I was successful. MacGyver has nothing on me.

I had so much fun improvising and my stock was delicious. Half the fun was in thinking outside of the box. What I loved was that even in the middle of the north woods, cooking without the tools and gadgets I rely upon so much in my well stock kitchen, I was able to create something delicious. I would not have been able to do this if I hadn’t taken the stocks class at The Chopping Block. By understanding why I was doing what I was doing, I was able to improvise. I also appreciate all of my tools and gadgets in my well stocked kitchen even more now.

Check out my cinnamon rolls I made in my cast iron skillet. They cooked evenly and tasted amazing!

These were the jokes on my Popsicle Stick while on vacation:

What did the Oregano’s name their kid? Herb

What does an Aardvark like on its pizza? Ant-chovies

Topics: chicken stock, Le Creuset, pans, cinnamon rolls, pots, jar