Today is the first of three weekly tip posts regarding making your own stock. Today we’ll cover chicken, to be followed by veggie stock and finally beef stock.
Let us start with some culinary terminology to get everyone on the same page – broth and stock. Most of us hear them and use them interchangeably, which is totally fine by me. But culinary experts all have their own definitions and the differences seem to fall into one of these two camps: Camp One: Stock is made with bones (usually roasted prior to stock-making), and broth is made with meat. Camp Two: Stock is the liquid before salt and seasonings are added (think of it as a foundation for something like a soup or a sauce) and broth is seasoned and can be enjoyed as is. So pick which camp you’d like to be in and use the correct definition as make sense for your life! Around here I just call them all stock until I’ll finished them and served them to people. Then I say, “come enjoy this steaming hot bowl of brothy goodness, my little sick chickadee.” Or something like that.
Making your own stock is:
- Really, really, REALLY easy.
- Much higher quality than you can buy in the store.
- Much cheaper than buying it in a store.
- Delicious and is packed with nutrients!
I am often asked what I always have available for last-minute meals, and ziplock bags of frozen stock in my freezer would be on the top of my list. I can defrost it and have a soup ready to eat in less than an hour. I can use it to add nutrients to quinoa, rice or couscous by substituting it for the water during cooking. I can throw it in the crock pot (sometimes still frozen!!) with a bunch of stuff and come home to dinner ready five hours later. I can defrost some for my family when they are under the weather and be confident that they are taking in high quality nutrients and not a lot of man-made chemicals found in canned or boxed brothy soups.
SIMPLE CHICKEN STOCK
- Stock Pot – The bigger the better, so you can get more stock out of all the effort. Crock Pots will work, but most won’t hold much liquid after putting a whole chicken in it. Consider investing in a large stock pot or find a foodie friend who might let you borrow one for a weekend. I love my 21 quart pot. Big but manageable.
- Cutting board/Chef’s Knife
- Cheese Cloth or Fine Strainer – I use a paint straining bag from the hardware store. I can place it into a pitcher and ladle the stock into it.
- Large Storage Container
- Gallon Sized Ziplock Bags
- Permanent Marker
- Whole Uncooked Organic Chicken OR an Organic Roasted Chicken with the meat mostly removed (and enjoyed some other way).
- 1 Big Organic Carrot – Chopped up chunky
- 1 Organic Onion – Peeled and chopped in half
- 2-4 Organic Celery Stalks – Chopped up chunky
- 1 Organic Leek (optional) – Sliced in half
- 5-10 Cloves of Garlic – Cut in half
- 2-3t Sea Salt
- 1T Whole Peppercorns
- Sprigs of Fresh Thyme or Parsley
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 2-3 Gallons of Cold Water
- Put the chicken in the pot and cover with the cold water. Bring to a boil on high heat.
- As soon as it begins to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Using the ladle, skim the foaming impurities off the top of the stock and throw away.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 3-5 hours.
- Turn the heat off and leave in the pot to cool slightly.
- Take out the chicken and place in a large casserole dish to cool. Then pick all the chicken meat off the bones and store in the refrigerator for all your shredded chicken needs. (Chicken soup, chicken salad, chicken pizza, chicken enchiladas, etc.)
- Using your strainer and your storage container, ladle the stock into the strainer in batches, resulting in having strained stock in the storage container.
- Place storage container in the refrigerator.
- Sometime in the next few days, discard the layer of fat that has hardened on the surface of the stock. (I like to keep a little of it in the stock for flavor, but not so much that it will be oily.)
- Using a permanent marker, label your Ziplock bags: CHICKEN STOCK and the date and how much you are measuring into each bag.
- I recommend measuring out 1 to 1.5 quarts of chicken stock per gallon Ziplock.
- Be sure to check those Ziplock tops for a good seal before placing the bags flat on top of each other to store in the freezer.
- The stock will keep in the freezer for several months.
This is what I store mine in to cool completely in the refrigerator. I made about seven quarts with this batch, and used a bunch right away and kept a quart in a mason jar in the refrigerator (for my sick chickadee).
That’s all there is to it! I spend over $3.50 a quart on organic chicken stock from the store. This recipe makes 6-8 quarts ($21-28 worth) and cost me less than $15 to make. I buy my whole organic chickens from Costco, usually they cost about $12-13 each. In addition to the stock, I have several cups of shredded meat I use all week long in different quick meals.
Hope this takes some of the mystery out of chicken stock. Try it once to see if it is for you and your real food adventures! Your soup has never tasted so good, as with a beautiful foundation of nutrient-rich homemade stock.
Ready to turn this stock into some Brothy Goodness? Check out this post for the easiest soup ever that I load my family up on when we are fighting classroom plagues. It has super powers if you use your homemade stock as the base.