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How-to Recipes

How to Make Chicken Stock, A Labor of Love

November 8, 2006
How to Make Chicken Stock

Some roommates and other random people have asked me lately about making a stock (and sometimes I find them making stocks and force some advice on them–they thank me later), so I thought I’d share the methodology I have about stock-making. If you have several large pots, I’d make as large a batch as possible, even in multiple pots when you do this, and then package cooled stock into different size tupperware–I then store it in the freezer for up to 3 months, though I’ve had it last much longer than that before and it was fine. This way, you can pull it out whenever you need it, and it’s much tastier and healthier than vacu-packed or canned stock; no packaging residue effecting it and to boot it’s higher protein.

Homemade chicken stock can be used in risotto, as a soup base, for hydrating rice, creating a sauce for pasta, and many other things. If you’re feeling sick, it’s great to have it on its own, just cooked down a bit to concentrate the flavor, and with enough salt.

Home Made Chicken Stock Recipe

1 organic chicken leg, rinsed (or chicken carcass, chicken spines, etc–the point is, BONES with a bit of meat/fat)
4 stalks of celery, cleaned & cut in thirds
3-4 carrots, peeled & cut in thirds
1 parsnip, lightly peeled cut in chunks
3 bay leafs
1 tsp whole peppercorns
a large handful of fresh thyme
3 medium white or yellow onions, quartered and peeled
tablespoon of salt (to be added later)
COLD or room temp good water (brita filtered or bottled); enough to fill your largest pot.

Put all ingredients but salt and water in a large pot (or multiple large pots, increasing the quantities). Cover generously with water, leaving about an inch from the top of the pot. Cover with a lid.

Bring everything to a boil, then reduce heat to low, loosen the lid (slightly cracked) and let simmer for 1-2 hours. When finished, strain carefully and let cool until luke warm or cooler before putting in the refrigerator or freezing it. You can skip this if you’re using it the same day.

If you added scraps that still have meat, and you intend to use it for something else, you should take it out about 10 minutes after simmering the broth.

For vegetable stock, you might consider adding mushrooms in place of the meat. For fish stock, you should seek another recipe, because you use far simpler vegetables and lots of fish scraps. It’s so stinky I usually buy mine from a gourmet grocer that makes it in house.

Notes & Variables for Stock Making

– Cold Water – Always be sure for any kind of stock to start with cold water. If you add the vegetables and chicken to hot water, you’re only cooking them in the water, not infusing their flavors into it.

– Using other Meats – The main rule is that you need mostly bones with some meat left on them. You could use a fatty cut of beef like stewing chuck, or turkey if it has the skin and some bones, a different cut of chicken or a whole chicken carcass (it’s a waste to use a whole raw chicken; roast it first and reserve the meat)

– Using other Herbs – Marjoram, sage, cilantro, or anything not delicate like basil, but the bay leafs are pretty important

– Using other vegetables – it is OK if you do not have all of the vegetables listeda bove, but carrot, onion, and celery are pretty important; you could skimp on celery if you want. I also like to add not-roting but on-their-way-out greens like kale stems, chard stems (though the red ones will change the color of your stock), broccoli stalks, turnips, turnip greens, fennel tops etc. Sometimes it’s helpful to save scraps (cleaned, in plastic bags, wrapped in paper towels) as you go through the week of cooking to use in stock.

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