Chicken Stock

If you read one of my recent posts about the Art of Feast Cooking, then you’ve been expecting this recipe for chicken stock! I’m so pleased I’ve started making my own stock, because it tastes so much better compared to the powdered or cubed pre-made stuff which I’m pretty convinced is just garlic powder and salt. Actually, one of our chicken “stock” powders is pretty much just that (though I was pretty impressed I could pronounce all the ingredients and they were all vegetarian, which was amusing).

There are a few reasons to start making your own chicken stock. The top two are that one, it’s dead easy so why not, and two, it’s just one thrifty thing you can do to work towards a sustainable kitchen. I mean “sustainable” in a few senses of the word—perhaps most importantly is making sure that when you do eat meat, you use as many parts of the animal as you can, and then some. You’re also creating less waste, by getting more use out of what’s already in your kitchen. Second most importantly is that your kitchen itself will continue to thrive—both on the taste of your delicious homemade stock, and because you’re getting your money’s worth out of fresh ingredients so you’re not having to buy a pre-made powder or cube or some such. Last but certainly not least, making your own stock means you can control the salt & fat content. Most stocks are ridiculously salty (see my previous comment about them being salt & garlic powder), far more than they ever need to be for your homemade soup. In fact, I almost always use half the amount of stock mix which I’m supposed to add into a given amount of water, jazzing the recipe up instead with fresh garlic and dried spices.

And just because I had to do some research to figure out if there’s any Aussie or Canadian/American predilections to calling this stock or broth, some fun facts! Stock (also known as bouillon) is this recipe, which includes the bones—broth, on the other hand, is made just using the meat from an animal (and who has that lying around? I’d rather eat it, thank you very much). Consomme (because you asked) is stock which has gone through a clarifying process. Now you know!

So the next time you do a roast chicken or turkey, save those bones & bits and get ready to make your own delicious stock!


Chicken Stock

Makes: roughly 2-3 L
Cooking time: 5 minutes hands-on, in total 1 hour +
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 1 poultry carcass (I used chicken, but turkey, duck, quail, etc. would also do just fine)
  • several liters of water
  • 1 tsp each of various spices, I used oregano, parsley, and thyme
  • 1/2 tsp each of various spices, I used sage and paprika
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, very roughly chopped (you can throw the peels in too, why not!)
  • any random vegetable scraps you might have, such as onion peels, bits of carrot or celery, etc. (optional)
  • 20 grinds pepper (about a tsp)
  • pinch fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 bay leaves

Note: These proportions are for a chicken which is 1.5 kg (3.5 lbs), so a relatively small chicken. If you’re making stock from a larger bird, adjust the spices and proportions accordingly.

Place your chicken carcass in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or slow cooker. Cover the carcass with water until covered by about a centimeter (half-inch). Add all your spices. Bring to a slow simmer. (In a slow cooker, leave on a high setting for 4-5 hours, always with the lid on.)

Simmer your carcass for about an hour, or longer if you can be bothered. I think 3-4 hours is best. Keep covered if you want to use the stock in its original volume. You can also let the water to steam off to about a half (or one third) its original volume after the first hour if you want to make a concentrated stock for freezing. Keep an eye on it and stir every half hour or so, just to make sure the spices don’t all float to the top. If there is a lot of fat rising to the top, you might want to skim this off carefully with a spoon. (And you might have to add some spices back in, since the spices tend to get caught in the fat… or you could sieve the fat and rinse the spices, then chuck them back into the simmering water.)

Once your stock has finished simmering, strain all contents through a fine metal sieve (or one which is heat-resistant), then decant the liquid into jars or a container and store and use within the next week in the fridge, or chill overnight in the fridge and then spoon into ice cube trays to store for longer. Once frozen, you can keep the cubes in a zip lock bag or in a container in the freezer. Use in soups, stir fries, baking, or however else you’d normally use chicken stock or broth!

Another note: If you opt for making a more condensed stock, once you’ve left it in the fridge for a while you’ll notice that it begins to thicken, even gel. This is perfectly normal. Animal bones contain collagen, which was one of the main ingredients used to make gelatine back in the day. You can reheat it to loosen it again and use in recipes.

My ice cube tray is silicone, and shaped into hearts. Aren't these frozen chicken stock "cubes" cute?

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Posted: August 22nd, 2010 under Basics, Easy, Joni's Blog, Mains, Recipes.
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Comments

Comment from Adriana @ Bittersweet Baker
August 22, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Thank you so much for this post! I was planning on making dog biscuits for the two dogs I’m currently pet sitting, but was afraid that the pre-made stuff would be too salty. This is perfect!

Comment from Joni
August 22, 2010 at 10:30 pm

And your dogs will love you so much more for the real stuff, not to mention the added proteins and healthy bits. :) You probably wouldn’t have to skim off as much fat either, since animal fat is good for dogs (in appropriate amounts, of course). I also have a recipe for dog bone treats, you can check it out here! Thanks for visiting.

Comment from Antonio
September 4, 2010 at 2:29 pm

I prepare broth just like that but with saffron, it leaves a wonderful aroma and colour. I will try fennel next time, I got some growing in the garden and I did not know how to use them. :)

Comment from Joni
September 10, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Hmm, I will have to try saffron sometimes too—it’s a bit harder to come by, but I bet it’s worth it. This was one of the first recipes I used fennel in too, it doesn’t take much!

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