We've been out of the amazing chicken stock I made from stewing hens for quite awhile now. I don't remember if it's been a year or more since I made it, but we loved that stuff.
Knowing a three day weekend was coming up, and we had no plans to go anywhere or do anything, I checked with Ami at Breakneck Acres and, sure enough, she has frozen stewing hens! I stopped in my way home after work the other day and she had my requested twelve birds waiting in a box for me.
Two days later and they're still frozen solid - sitting in the basement fridge for such a short time was not long enough for them to start thawing.
I started with adding seven large carrots, half a head of celery, maybe five halved onions, one large and a couple small heads of garlic, a palmful of peppercorns, maybe six cloves, and a good shake off salt into the large stock pot. Didn't bother peeling anything - the carrots and celery got ends cut off and a quick scrub, and the onions and garlic got the loosest skins removed,and the root ends cut off.
Then it was a game of frozen chicken Tetris - I know I've been able to get six birds in the stock pot before, although I think they were thawed, and their legs were stretched out more. These are a bit more boxy.
As you can see, after some shuffling around I got all but maybe and inch or two under water. As the bottom ones thaw, we'll use the potato masher to push the birds down more. I seriously doubt there's any risk of us getting sick from raw birds out of the water for a bit - they're going to simmer all day, and then will be pressure canned with really high heat.
It cost me $87 for the 12 birds (priced $7ea). She says each bird will weigh at least 2.5lbs. Maybe she picked out big birds for me? The first six weigh...
I'll have to do a final total and some math to see what they actually come out to per pound, see how many quarts of stock we get, and compare that to the boxed stocks we sometimes buy. Guaranteed this'll taste so much better!