Homemade Chicken Stock

I have become a total convert when it comes to homemade stock.  Yes, I know…buying boxes of stock at the market is convenient, but if you’re not careful, all you’ll end up buying is sodium and preservatives, and that’s gross.  I like to know exactly what goes into my stock.  For me, making stock is a labor of love and completely worth the work I put into it.  Since I roast chicken often at our house, making stock is almost always an option.  And as a bonus, while it’s bubbling away, the house fills with the most delicious aroma. 

Chicken stock is dead simple to make and it freezes beautifully, so why not put forth the effort and reach for something homemade rather than a dreadful cardboard box full of stabilizers, preservatives, and additives.

Oh, and let me tell you this, don’t be afraid when you open your fridge after the stock has been in there overnight.  It’s supposed to be gelatinous, jiggly, wobbly…if you will.  The flavor is in the wiggly, semi-solid nature of the stock.  I promise you.  The gelatin comes from the bones of the chicken and when heated, releases all of that lovely flavor.  Fear not!  The more jell-o-like, the better!

You can use your stock straight away (after a night in the fridge) or save it in the freezer for a later use.  Be sure to skim the fat off the top either way before you use it in any dish.

Ingredients:

1 or 2 chicken carcasses, along with their giblets, etc
2 large onions, quartered
4 carrots, chopped into 3-inch sections
2 or 3 stalks of celery (and leaves), chopped same as the carrots
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 head of garlic, spilt in half crosswise
1 bouquet garni (mix of herbs tied together – I use parsley, thyme, sage, bay leaf)

***NOTE:  I do not add salt to the mix when making my own stock.  I like to add salt to future recipes as needed.  Besides, the chickens were salted when I roasted them.

Method:

– First I have to say that this recipe is the one I like to use.  However, if you have different herbs, by all means, use them.  Although, I would shy away from using strong herbs like rosemary, because then your stock will just taste and smell of rosemary.  If you like more onion, use more onion.  If you don’t like peppercorns, omit them.  Find what you like and use what you have.  Make it your own.

– Find the biggest stockpot you have.  If necessary, use two pots of different sizes and split up the ingredients.

– Break up the carcasses the best you can and throw into the pot along with all the other ingredients.

– Fill the pot with as much water as you can and place the pot on the burner over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let it go for 3 hours or so.  Make sure it’s at a simmer, not a boil during this time. 

– When the stock is the golden color you’re looking for, use a spider or a pair of tongs to remove the majority of the solids from the pot.  Throw those away.  Then, using a fine-mesh strainer, chinois, or cheesecloth, strain the remainder of the stock and throw away the solids. 

– Pour stock into storage containers and place in refrigerator to chill overnight.  Either use immediately or store in freezer for up to 3 months. 

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