Homemade Chicken Stock
A guest post from our customer Audrey:
Chicken stock: I make it by the gallons, freeze it in large jars and small; because sometime you only need a little stock and others you need soup… now. There are not a lot of rules for chicken stock, and I think that is why I love making it so much. Everything that is getting a little soft in your fridge can be tossed in with little cutting or ceremony. Add a few more dried herbs, water, and time…. Lots and lots of time. Stock making for me is a bit of a Sunday ritual, it involves cleaning the house and having cocktails while the whole place smells of veggies and bubbling chicken. Sometimes the smell sneaks onto the street and my neighbors stop in for a peak, and maybe a drink. It is a very homey smell; I highly recommend you try a day like this.
I think the popularity of boneless, skinless chicken breast along with the abundance of pretty OK boxed stock has been the downfall of homemade chicken stock. Don’t fall into this trap. Try buying whole organic (at least air cooled) chickens and see the improvement in you dishes. Maybe that will be discussed in more detail in another post. So my chicken stock starts with saving the bones and backs of about 3 butchered chickens. I simply keep the leftover parts in a well labeled bag in the freezer until I have enough for stock makings. It often coincides with the time when I run out of stock and need more.
Next add veggies, the ones that you really can’t do without are carrots, onion, and celery. I always have these in there and it seems to be them that I have partial bags of anyway. 2 onions, 4-6 carrots, and half a bunch of celery, leafy tops and all. As far as veggies go you can stop there if you want, it will make a great basic stock and I make it this way if I have been good about using all of my vegetables. But since I almost never get though everything I also will toss in a few errant cloves of garlic, parsnips (love these) tomato bits if I have them (such as half of one left over from a salad, never more than one), carrot tops, mushrooms, ect. Really whatever you want. If you start adding things like lemongrass and ginger it will take on a very asian flavor, which is great but may not be as universal in your kitchen.
Finally add 1-3 bayleaves a few tablespoons of pepper and enough water to cover everything (Usually 8-10 cups) and set to a low bubble for at least 3 hours. I do not add salt to my stock just because I like to season my food later. If you want salted stock add a tablespoon or two at this point. I sometimes do mine for 5-6 hours if I don’t feel like dealing with it right away. When it has obtained a deep yellow to golden color turn the heat off and let cool for up to an hour. This will just make it easier to deal with, but you can process right away if you like.
Strain all solids from the stock, I usually do this several times to remove any little pieces. You can skim the fat here, but I find it easier to just scrape the fat off of the frozen or refrigerated stock later. Use this for soups, sauces, stir fries, braised vegetables, pretty much everything. Enjoy!
3 chickens backs, bones, any unused portions
½ bunch celery (tops on)
2-3 bay leaves
3 tables spoons whole peppercorns
8-10 cups water (more if that doesn’t cover all of your ingrediants
3-5 garlic cloves
2 sprigs thyme
Place everything into a very large stock pot, set on medium low to low heat and maintain a low simmer
for 3-6 hours. Strain all solids, use for everything!