Easy & Perfect Homemade Chicken Stock
In our house we have something called the chicken cycle. It goes like this: eat enough chicken over the course of weeks or months until you have enough bones and scraps to fill 2 gallon-size freezer bags. Then we make chicken stock and the cycle starts all over.
The words stock and broth are often used interchangeably, but why have two different words if they aren’t at least slightly different? To me, a broth is made using meat whereas stock uses bones in addition to meat. Broth is a little cleaner in color and flavor while stock is darker in color and deeper in flavor. My recipe uses no salt expect for what may have originally seasoned the chicken. This allows you, the cook to season as necessary at the end without risk of over salting. This is particularly useful if you plan to reduce it in a sauce, for example.
You can certainly make chicken broth or stock from raw chicken, but that’s a bit wasteful. By saving chicken bones and scraps in the freezer you can make an incredibly flavorful stock and it’s ridiculously inexpensive to make. It’s a satisfying accomplishment to see dinners past turn into liquid gold from tap water and a few bucks worth of produce.
Homemade chicken stock blows the store bought stuff out of the water. If you’ve never made it before, the first thing you’ll notice is it looks like chicken jello in the fridge due to the breakdown of connective tissue. It solidifies slightly when chilled, but is liquid at room temperature and hot. This viscosity is part of what makes it so lip-smacking good. You can make a large batch and freeze it which will last indefinitely, but lose flavor after 3 months. For this recipe you will need 1 large stock pot and 1 very large stockpot (20 qt or so).
2 gallon-sized freezer bags of chicken scraps and bones (or 2 whole chickens, broken down if necessary)
4 carrots, halved
5 celery stalks, cut into thirds
2 onions, unpeeled and quartered (root removed)
1 head of garlic, sliced crosswise
20 sprigs fresh parsley
15 sprigs fresh thyme
5 sprigs fresh dill (optional)
2 parsnips, halved (optional)
Mushrooms or stems (optional)
1 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
6 quarts water
In a very large stock pot place chicken on the bottom and top with remaining ingredients. Add 6 quarts of water (or more to ensure chicken is covered) and bring to a simmer. Adjust heat to maintain a gentle simmer for about 4 hours, skimming the top occasionally.
After the first hour, remove any chicken pieces with bones to a cutting board. Preheat oven to 400°F. When cool enough to handle, carve the meat and separate the bones. Return meat to the pot. Chop the bones in half and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Roast the bones for 15 minutes then return them to the pot.
Once the liquid has reduced by a third (about 4 hours) strain the stock through a colander into another large pot. You can do this is batches, squeezing out any excess liquid from the solids before discarding them. For a clearer stock, strain it a couple more times through a fine mesh sieve, wiping out the empty pots before straining. Transfer the strained stock pot to an ice bath to cool rapidly for 30 minutes before putting in the fridge overnight.
After chilling overnight, all the fat will rise to the top of the stock. Skim this off with a spoon and discard or reserve if you have a use for it. The stock should be very gelatinous when chilled, but will return to liquid when heated.
This should yield about 4 quarts. Transfer to gallon or quart-sized freezer bags (or both - however you like it portioned) and remove all the air so they can lay flat in your freezer.