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Wild rice harvest season calls for homemade chicken broth

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Autumn color beckons us back to the stove, to the rich, warm season of soup. The garden is still producing, but thoughts turn from salad to the blends of meat/poultry, vegetables and broth, to be enjoyed as the leaves begin to fall.

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About a year ago, I proclaimed an oath: No more boxed/canned chicken broth. And I've never looked back.

I experimented with several. The one that has remained my staple requires an extra step, but is worth the effort. Roasting bones first darkens color and adds flavor. But it shouldn't be used with light soups, because of its robust taste.

The second stock recipe offers a lighter option, but with the character and flavor only a homemade stock produces.

Both make 3-plus quarts. And both add a grand, new dimension to wild rice.

Dark Chicken Broth

Cooking time: 3 1/2 hours

3 to 4 pounds chicken parts and bones, rinsed and patted dry

1 large onion, quartered (no need to peel)

2 or 3 carrots, peeled and cut in half

2 celery stalks, cut in half

½ pound mushrooms (optional)

A spring of fresh thyme or pinch of dried

½ bay leaf

Several sprigs of fresh parsley

1 tsp. salt

3 quarts water (12 cups) plus 4 more

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Place chicken parts and bones, onion, carrots, celery and mushrooms in a large roasting pan and place in the oven. Roast, shaking the pan on occasion and turn the ingredients a few times. Roast for about 45 minutes. Everything should be nicely browned.

Use a slotted spoon to place ingredients into a stockpot. Add the remaining ingredients and 3 quarts of water. Turn heat to high.

Place the roasting pan over a burner(s) set on high and add 2 to 4 cups water, depending on the pan's depth. Bring to a boil and scrape off the food on the pan's bottom. Pour this into the pot, along with remaining water, and bring to a boil. Partially cover and adjust heat so it's barely simmering. Cook until meat falls from the bones, at least two hours.

Strain, pressing the meat and veggies to extract as much juice as possible. Add salt to taste.

This can be refrigerated up to five days or frozen.

Chicken Stock

3 to 4 pounds chicken parts and bones, rinsed and patted dry (you can add some pre-cooked)

1 cup onion, chopped (no need to peel)

1 cup roughly chopped carrot

½ cup chopped celery

A sprig of fresh thyme or pinch of dryed

½ bay leaf

Several sprigs of fresh parsley

1 tsp. salt

About 16 cups water

Combine all ingredients in a stockpot.

Bring to a near boil and partially cover. Adjust heat so mixture sends up a few bubbles at a time. Cook at least two hours, until meat falls from bones.

Strain, pressing meat and vegetables. Add salt to taste.

Refrigerate or freeze.

Seemingly a millennium ago, when my children were in high school, we were invited to sample what the students - boys and girls - were learning about cooking in an updated home ec class. Daughter Laura and cohorts created a wild rice soup that "stirred" a request. "Can I have the recipe?" Request granted, it remains in the original scribbled form in my recipe file, with updates (chicken and pepperjack cheese) added through the years.

This recipe inspired the homemade chicken broth. (Good decision.)

Laura's Wild Rice Soup

2 cups cooked wild rice

½ cup diced green pepper

1 cup chopped celery

½ cup chopped mushrooms

½ cup butter

3 tbsp. flour

8 cups chicken broth

A bay leaf

2 cups chopped, cooked chicken

1 cup half and half (or cream)

1 to 2 cups shredded pepperjack cheese

Salt and freshly ground pepper.

Sauté vegetables in butter until onions are transparent. Add the flour and stir until light brown. Add broth, stirring until smooth and simmering. Add chicken, half and half (or cream) and cheese. Stir in wild rice. Simmer 10 minutes.

Minnesota Wild Rice

4 to 5 cups chicken stock

1½ cups wild rice, washed

1½ cups finely chopped celery

¾ cup chopped onion

¼ pound mushrooms, chopped

1 tsp. chopped pimento

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place all but 1 cup stock into a greased casserole. Cover tightly and bake about 1 ½ hours, adding more stock as necessary.

Pass the recipes, please

The Enterprise welcomes recipes.

E-mails may be sent to jeanr@parkrapidsenterprise.com, dropped off at the Enterprise or mailed to Park Rapids Enterprise, PO Box 111, Park Rapids, MN 56470.

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