Store-bought chicken stock is certainly convenient, but for healthier and better tasting stock, why not make your own?
Homemade chicken stock is liquid gold. One of the first recipes I learned from my Grandmother was how to make homemade chicken stock. Broth, or stock, is the basis for soups, stews, sauces and sautés. It is particularly integral in risotto recipes. Store-bought chicken broth or stock is handy, however making your own not only delivers superior flavor, but is also cost-effective and lets you to manage salt. It’s also a terrific way avoid throwing away vegetable scraps and the leftover chicken bones from a rotisserie that would otherwise be tossed. If you find yourself with some leftover chicken bones and a few hours to embark on a largely hands-off project, make a savory stock to freeze for later. Follow the same guidelines and steps herein for making turkey stock, too.
Ever embark on a recipe and realize that you have everything but chicken stock?
I am a scrapper. That is, I try to use EVERY part of the vegetable(s) I am using to prepare food. I picked this up from my Gram. She was a Depression baby, so she just always did it, so now I just always do it. A force of habit some might say, but a really, really good and mentally satisfying one. Ends of onions, tops and particularly blah bottoms of celery ribs, mushroom stems, carrot tops and bits and pieces, and an overage in the summertime of fresh herbs in my pots…it’s all scrap and it’s fantastic.
Agonize not, homemade chicken stock is extraordinarily easy. In fact, it’s hard to mess up.
I keep a large baggie in the freezer for my scrapper habit, adding to it almost daily and then re-freezing, determined to not waste anything I am paying for. When I have leftover bones from a rotisserie chicken or from the Thanksgiving turkey, or even when I don’t sometimes, I add everything to the pot, throw in 3 or 4 bay leaves and some salt and peppercorns, and fill almost to the top with tap water. The magic begins as my ingredients get good and hot and begin to simmer slowly and marry together. Some of the BEST soup bases begin with what happens in that pot….
Homemade chicken stock offers a depth and complexity to slow-cooked dishes, particularly risottos, braises, and soups where the slow cook intensifies the sugars in the ingredients, and deepens the flavors that are brought about by the processes.
I get that running to the grocery is the quick answer for most of us, however as a rule for whenever I purchase a rotisserie now, I commit to chicken stock after we finish the bird. Not only it is a cheaper alternative to store bought chicken stock, but homemade means it’s largely free of all chemicals used to increase shelf life in foods.
How To Make Homemade Chicken Stock
Leftover carcass and skin from a large, cooked rotisserie chicken
Celery leaves and 1 large celery rib, cut into pieces
Onion, 1 large unpeeled onion, quartered
Carrot, cut into pieces
Garlic, 1 whole head unpeeled, cut in half
3 to 4 whole bay leaves
Parsley, 1 bunch
Thyme, 1 bunch
Chives, 1 bunch
Handful fresh sage leaves
Kosher Salt, about 1 tablespoon and additional to taste
Peppercorns, about 2 tablespoons
Put the leftover bones and any leftover meat and skin from a chicken carcass into a very large stock pot. Add vegetables or vegetable scraps as close to measurements given above. You needn’t peel the vegetables as everything gets strained twice in the end, so just toss it into the stockpot.
Cover with water by about 2 inches. A rough measurement on the amount of water equals to about 16 cups of water. Add Kosher salt and peppercorns and bay leaves.
Bring the ingredients to a boil, then reduce to a gently rolling simmer and cover with a lid. Simmer for 4 hours. Remove lid ¾ of the way through cooking, and continue to simmer gently, reducing liquid by more than half. Simmering additional time will further reduce the stock, making it highly concentrated and very rich. I try to reduce mine to about 4 cups. Taste the stock as you cook and look for it to be a gorgeous, amber color. Add 1/2 teaspoon more kosher salt at a time if needed to boost the flavor of the chicken.
Turn off the heat and allow to cool. Using first a colander, strain and discard the solids into a 4-cup glass measuring cup. Strain a second time by using a fine-mesh strainer. Skim any fat if desired. Store in the refrigerator in 1-quart glass canning jars with tight fitting lids, or ladle in 1 cup measure increments into pre-labeled plastic freezer bags and freeze flat for later use.