I confess I often use canned chicken stock (well, “boxed” is more appropriate now, I guess) or bouillon-type base. Yes, I know, not very local of me (not to mention not very ‘chef-like’) but my efforts to eat lower on the food chain result in eating less meat in general and the need for soup stock definitely overwhelms the amount of stock bones that pile up in the freezer. Nevertheless, making your own stock is the way to go, whenever you can – the recipe below is quite simple; while the stock cooks for a few hours, there is very little actual “hands-on” time, so it can be bubbling away while you are doing other things.
Rich Chicken Stock
- one 3.5 to 4-lb soup or stew chicken (OR an equivalent amount of chicken bones; store carcass & bones in the freezer until you have time to make stock)
- filtered water
- 1 tsp salt
- optional vegetables: 1/2 yellow onion, 1 sliced leek, 2 ribs celery, 1 carrot, 4 garlic cloves
- optional herbs & spices: parsley, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, black pepper
- Place chicken or chicken bones in a stockpot with cool, filtered water to cover.
- Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat, being careful to not allow the stock to boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and skim any foam off the top frequently during the first 15 minutes or so of cooking. Boiling the stock will cause it to turn cloudy, so keep it to a simmer!
- Add salt, if desired, and any optional vegetables and/or spices now.
- Simmer, uncovered until the meat is cooked through, 20-40 minutes, or until a meat thermomenter registers 170 degrees (skip to Step 6 if using only bones)
- Once chicken is cool enough to handle, remove meat from the bones and reserve for chicken soup, sandwiches, etc.
- Return bones to pot and continue to simmer, uncovered, until stock reaches desired strength (approx. 2 hours for regular strength stock; up to 4 hr for very concentrated stock, which can be frozen and re-constituted with water).
- Strain stock through a sieve lined with dampened cheesecloth. Discard bones and compost any vegetables.
- Store stock in the refrigerator overnight. Fat will rise to the surface and solidify. Skim off fat in the morning and discard. You may want to strain the stock once again to ensure all fat & sediment has been removed. Don’t worry if your stock has jellied overnight (this is natural animal protein from the chicken bones, and means you cooked it long enough!) - it will liquefy again upon heating.
Yields approximately 5-6 cups of rich chicken stock.
- I prefer my chicken stock to taste only of chicken, but depending on your intended use and your preference, add any of the optional vegetables & herbs.
- For a very rich stock, you can use the “two-chicken” method: proceed with one chicken up until step 6; when you return the bones to the stock, add another soup chicken to the pot (with more water to cover if necessary) and repeat steps 2 – 6 (do not add additional vegetables).
Store in the fridge for 3 days or frozen for 6 months.