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Chicken Stock

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Everything about making homemade chicken stock is wonderful.  You know exactly what’s in it (and what is not), it adds incredible flavor to your dishes, your home smells cozier than Grandma’s, and it is very, very easy.  I roast a lot of chickens, therefore I make a great deal of chicken stock.  Freeze the chicken stock in different sized molds and use “flavor bricks” to amp up your dishes.  There are a few simple rules to follow, then you’ve mastered the process!

  1. Always start with cold water.
  2. Gently bring to a simmer, try not to boil.
  3. Cook all day.
  4. Cool quickly and refrigerate or freeze.

Got it?  Commit to that to memory and you’re golden!

Now for the ingredients.  Start with a chicken carcass, preferably that has a little meat left on it.  Leaving some meat on the bones will give you a more flavorful stock, and taste less like boiled bones.  I keep a stash of chicken bones and scraps in my freezer in a ziplock, so I’ll throw those in too.  For veggies and herbs I use carrots, celery, onion, garlic, oregano, thyme and parsley.  Dig around in your fridge and find the ugly, almost too far gone pieces… they’re prefect!  Have a soft apple, use that too.  Be creative.

Add the bones, veggies and herbs to a stock pot and cover with cold water by about 2 inches.  Using medium-low heat, slowly bring the water up to a gentle simmer.  Start this as early as possible and cook all day, the longer the better.

I recently received a hand-me-down Tramontina stock pot with a glass lid, and I have to say, it really changes everything!  Before, I used my All-Clad 8-quart pot, which was fine, but I was constantly adjusting the lid half-way onto the rim to allow a little steam out and always seemed to have a problem with too much evaporation.  This new stock pot has a lid that rests inside the pot, without a tight seal.  A tiny bit of steam escapes, so no pressure builds up.  The high-dome lid captures the condensation, letting it stream back down into the pot.  The new pot is narrower and taller than the All-Clad pot, so there is less surface area for the simmering broth to be evaporated.  You can also peek through the glass lid without releasing a giant puff of steam.  All of these factors make for a larger quantity of richer stock, because you lose so much less water.  I am a believer in owning just a few high quality tools in the kitchen, and this new pot is pulling it’s weight!

Stock Pot

When the stock is done, pour through a sieve and let it stand in a large bowl.  Set your bowl of stock in the sink and fill with cold water and ice, this will cool it quickly.  Letting it cool slowly on the counter will allow lots of dangerous bacteria to grow in the stock.  Don’t put a big bowl of hot stock in your fridge, it will heat the whole thing up and ruin your food.  Once cool from the ice water, set the bowl of stock in the refrigerator for the night.  The funky sediments will fall to the bottom, giving you a cleaner stock.  Use the stock for soup or freeze.

I freeze stock in many different sized molds because I use it so many ways.

chicken stock cups
Mini-muffin size chicken-stock-cubes are perfect for throwing in the pan when you are sautéing veggies.

Frozen Chicken Stock

Concentrated flavor-bricks from your freezer.

  • Bread pan = 1 quart, perfected for making soup
  • Mini-loaf = 1 1/2 cups, melt and use to make flavorful rice or quinoa
  • Cupcake = 1/3 cup, enrich a pan-reduction sauce or gravy
  • Mini-muffin = 1 Tbs, add to a veggie sauté

Keep this arsenal of flavor-power handy and your dishes will sing!

OK, that’s everything you need to know to turn a pile of bones into nourishing goodness.  Now for your neat little recipe card.

Chicken Stock
Recipe type: Soup
  • 1 chicken carcass
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • sprigs of parsley, oregano, thyme, chives
  1. Add the ingredients to a large stock pot and cover with cold water by 2 inches.
  2. Gently heat and bring to a low simmer.
  3. Cook all day.
  4. Remove pot from heat, pour stock through a sieve.
  5. Cool quickly by setting bowl of stock in sink with cold water and ice.
  6. Refrigerate over-night to clarify.
  7. Use or freeze immediately.


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