Chicken Stock

5 lbs chicken necks and/or backs
2 onions, quartered
2-3 carrots, split lengthwise
3-4 stalks of celery, broken in half
2-3 parsnips, split lengthwise
handful of black peppercorns
1-2 bay leaves
2-3 dried mushrooms

Place chicken in a large stockpot, and cover with water to within a couple inches of the top. (It's OK to start with frozen chicken.) Bring the water to a boil, then drop temperature to a very low simmer. Skim foam from the top until no more appears, then add the rest of the ingredients. Allow to simmer on the lowest heat setting that will still cause bubbles for at least eight hours. (If you're not planning on spending eight hours at home, a crock pot will also make delicious stock, but the color will be an odd dark brown.)

Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Line a colander with paper towel and gently pour stock through colander into a large pot or bowl, preferably placed in the sink. Discard the remnants left in the pot. In I'm Just Here for the Food, Alton Brown recommends filling a ziploc bag with ice, then floating it in the stock to cool it quickly. (He also describes a daredevil scheme using cheesecloth and aquarium tubing for siphoning the stockpot empty, but I've never been brave enough to try it. Although it is not oriented toward food allergy avoidance, I highly recommend the book. It explains how different cooking processes work, which helped me greatly when I began to experiment in the kitchen.)

Refrigerate the stock overnight, then skim off the fat from the top of the liquid. Freeze, or use immediately. I use a combination of one, two, and four Cup sized plastic freezer containers, so that I don't have to thaw more than I need.

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