Updated: Aug 28
When I was preparing to welcome our first son into this world, I knew I would need lots of easy meals ready to go. The first thing I did was stock my freezer full of different kinds of stocks so I could make soups and stews quickly. It was definitely helpful!
Good-quality stock is a must-have ingredient in your freezer. In my kitchen I hardly ever cook without stock. I use stocks to flavor anything from soups and sauces to pasta and vegetables. I already shared my recipe for beef stock a few months ago, but today we're going to make basic chicken stock that will take your mom's chicken soup to the next level.
These days it's so easy to grab a carton of stock off the grocery store shelf, but not too long ago most people would make stock themselves in an effort to use every part of the animal. Stocks are used in traditional cuisines around the world - French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, African, South American, Middle Eastern, Russian . . . They're everywhere! Chef Hinnerk calls stock a fond de cuisine. Or, in English, the foundation of cooking. Not only is it the foundation of cooking, but many cultures also view chicken broth or stock as a remedy for the flu and other sicknesses. The 12th century physician Moses Maimonides even prescribed chicken broth as a treatment for colds and asthma.
What's So Great About Homemade Chicken Stock?
Homemade chicken stock is easy to make and way healthier than store-bought stock that contains commercially prepared gelatin, which contains small amounts of free glutamic acid, similar to MSG. Homemade stock will also thicken more due to the high collagen content. With tons of health benefits, gelatin-rich broths are important especially for those who cannot afford large amounts of meat in their diets. Gelatin seems to be of use in the treatment of many chronic disorders.
What's the Difference Between Stock and Broth?
The difference between broth and stock is that broths are made with meat and bones, while stocks are made with bones only (both include aromatics). Broth can be a meal by itself, but stock is only used as a base or flavoring for another dish. Broths don't simmer as long as stocks; they're done when the meat is done.
How Long Does Homemade Stock Take?
If you're using the regular stovetop method, clear chicken stock requires simmering (not boiling) for a minimum of 6 hours and a maximum of 12 hours.
If you use a pressure cooker or crock pot, the number of hours will vary depending on the equipment you're using. Check your instruction manual for guidance.
The exact timing for chicken stock depends on the age of the chicken. Hens are much tougher birds than fryers and consequently give you a more aromatic stock than a younger bird, because the meat must simmer for a longer time before it's tender. If you ever come across a rooster, remember the amount of cooking time will increase. Also the gaminess of meat makes it tastes more like duck than chicken, while still on the lean side. Occasionally I've made stock out of rooster. It's well worth it to make it.
Use regular organic chicken if possible. I reserve the chicken breasts for another recipe called chicken Provencal that I'll share with you soon.
You can also use roasted bones instead of raw. It can be the perfect way to use up your leftovers from a roast chicken dinner.
The quality of water matters. Chlorinated water should be filtered before use.
The vegetables don’t have to be an exact size. Just eyeball them, and it should be about 50% onions, 25% carrots, and 25% celery.
Stock can be made in bulk and stored until needed. Clear stock will keep about five days in the refrigerator (longer if reboiled), or several months in the freezer. You may find it useful to store stock in pint-sized or quart-sized containers in order to have on hand for sauces and stews. If space is at a premium in your freezer, you can reduce the stock by boiling it down for several hours until it becomes very concentrated and syrupy. This concentrated stock - called demi-glace - can be stored in small silicon cups.
Chicken Stock Ingredients
One chicken about 3½ lb (all parts except breasts and thighs)
4-6 quarts of water (no more than 2 inches above the bones)
Mirepoix (vegetables for seasoning)
1 carrot, cut in a few pieces
1 large unpeeled onion, cut into large chunks
2 stalks celery, cut in a few pieces
Bouquet Garni (herbs & spices for seasoning)
Few bay leaves (fresh or dry)
2 tablespoons salt
Few sprigs of fresh thyme (I tie mine with butcher string)
½ tablespoon whole black peppercorns
Bundle of parsley (stems only, I tie mine with butcher string)
Cover the bones with cold water. You don’t want to cover the bones by more than 2 inches.
Add the mirepoix, salt, black peppercorns, and bouquet Garni and stir.
Cover and bring to a simmer (not a boil).
After the first few minutes of simmering you will notice foam floating on the surface. You'll want to skim that off.
Simmer for 6-12 hours, then remove from the heat when you're done.
After the stock cools down a little bit, strain out the veggies and bones and pour the stock into freezable containers or mason jars for refrigerator storage.