A good chicken stock is the building block of many a good soup, sauce and stew. A quality homemade stock is to the Chef as much a staple as good olive oil, butter, salt and pepper.
Although there are many varieties of stocks available at our supermarkets, many of them can be too salty and contain a lot of unwanted additives. Now I’m not saying I never buy supermarket brand stocks because I do, I just read the labels and make the most valuable decision I can on the day. There are a few out there that are awesome. When you find one you like, why not use it whenever you don’t have time to make your own. I’m not against that at all.
Why do I make my own Chicken Stock?
I do find something gratifying and therapeutic about making stocks in my kitchen. Knowing that the entire dish is made from scratch and knowing precisely what’s in the food we’re eating is a plus for me.
Don’t use vegetable or food scraps to make stock. If you wouldn’t serve them for dinner why would you put them in your stock? Your stock needs to be pure and delicious, its the base for your dish and where all the flavour starts.
I’ve overheard conversations where people say “Oh I use my peelings or vegetable ends to make stocks, I hate to waste” Humm It’s so hard to bite my tongue. I’d prefer to compost that’s not wasting. I was taught very early in my cooking career that the stock pot was not a rubbish bin. I’ve seen and heard of many an establishment that uses their stock pot as just that, a place to chuck in peelings and offcuts to add to the flavour.
I like my stock to be a clean flavour without salt so I can salt the dish correctly.
Chicken Stock Recipe
- 6 chicken carcasses approx. 1.5-2 kilograms
- 2 medium onions peeled and quartered
- 2 stalks celery roughly chopped
- 2 carrots peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- 5-6 black peppercorns
- Enough cold water to cover everything
- Place all the ingredients in a large pot and cover with water.
- Bring it all to the boil.
- Once boiling, immediately reduce to a simmer.
- Simmer for up to 4 hours.
- Every hour skim the foam off that accumulates on top and discard.
- Strain the stock.
- Discard the solids (if you used meaty carcasses, feel free to pull any of the meat off and use as desired).
- Strain the stock through a fine strainer to remove any fine solid particles.
- Refrigerate overnight, (the following day remove and discard the layer of hard fat that has solidified on top overnight).
- The stock can now be used as required, refrigerated for 2-3 days, or portioned and frozen to be used at your convenience for up to a few months.
Bec’s Tips for making chicken stock at home:
- The recipe above makes a light chicken stock. If a deep, dark, richer stock is required, brown the bones first (really brown) in a 200°c oven then place them in a pot as above and allow to simmer for 6-8 hours (this will require adding more water during the simmering process to prevent the stock drying up) Without salt the stock will seem as though it has less flavour but once you’ve added it to your dish and the salt has been added the flavour will shine through.
- For a very clear broth, leave out the carrots, don’t use the celery tops and simmer for only 2-3 hours. When straining, don’t push through the veg, just take what is released under its own weight. If you want to get the most out of your stock, once the majority of the stock has run through remove the clear liquid, get another container and push through the rest separately, this will be cloudy, but it has its uses too.
- The stock pot is not a rubbish bin, use good quality ingredients to achieve a good quality stock. I often hear people mention they use their old bendy veg to make stock and it makes me cringe. A stock is the base of your dish make it well. I say if you wouldn’t cook that bendy carrot and pop it on your dinner plate, don’t put it in your stock.
- Yes, you can use chicken wings for stock, the fat will solidify on the surface of the stock in the fridge overnight and is easily removed the next day.
- Skim, skim, skim. Gently simmer a stock rather than boil, remove any foam, scum that builds up on the top. Boiling churns the stock in the pot and makes it difficult to remove impurities.
- Rinse the chicken in cold water before cooking; this removes any traces of blood. Blood can create a cloudy stock. Another way to reduce this is to bring the water to the boil first, then gently lower the chicken into the pot. This will cook the blood before it has the opportunity to leak out and cloud the chicken stock. Vegetable tops like Celery tops can create a cloudy stock, just use the stalks if you’re looking for a clear, bright stock.
- I don’t add any salt to my stock, but instead, add it to the dish I’m using it in. This will give you a better result when cooking the final dish. So remember when you do add salt to your final dish, the flavour of the stock will shine.
- What about other veg and herbs? I prefer to leave these till the final dish unless I’m making the stock for a specific dish. I might add fresh herbs if the dish I’ll be making with the stock warrants it. It’s the same as with the salt; I want this to be a clean chicken broth flavour. That way I can take my dish in any direction I wish. If I add coriander to the stock, for instance, I’m stuck with it. My final dish might be a light sage and onion soup, then what?
Like making Chicken Stock then maybe you’d like to know more?