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Chicken Stock – my top 8 Tips

A large pot with chicken and mira poix

Stock is a Chef’s staple for soups, sauces, and stews

Superior chicken stock is the foundation for countless delightful soups, sauces, and stews. As a chef, I consider a high-quality homemade stock to be as essential to my cooking as top-notch olive oil, butter, salt, and pepper.

While numerous store-bought stocks line supermarket shelves, many can be excessively salty and packed with unwanted additives. There are, however, a few excellent options. If you discover a store-bought stock you enjoy, feel free to use it when you’re short on time—I’m certainly not opposed to that!

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Why I like home made chicken stock

For me, there’s something deeply satisfying and soothing about crafting stocks in my own kitchen. The knowledge that an entire dish is prepared from scratch and that I’m aware of every ingredient in our meal is something I love. Sure, I can’t make my own stock for every meal I make, but I love to use it in certain recipes because they shine when you do. Try this, Ginger Chicken Soup; replace the water with homemade stock and leave out the stockpot. Or this Chicken Pasta Cacciatore. I have loads of recipes on this site that you can use homemade stock.

Avoid using vegetable or food scraps for your stock. Why incorporate them into your stock if you wouldn’t serve them at the dinner table? The stock should be pure and flavoursome, as it forms the basis of your dish and the starting point for all the rich flavours. I’ve encountered people who claim to use peelings or vegetable ends for their stocks, not wanting to waste anything. However, I learned early in my culinary journey that a stock pot is not a trash can.

My tips for making chicken stock at home

  1. For a deeper, richer stock, brown the bones at 200°C in the oven before simmering for 6-8 hours. Add water as needed to prevent drying up. The stock may taste less flavorful without salt, but its flavour will shine through once added to your dish.
  2. For a clear broth, skip the carrots and celery tops, and simmer for only 2-3 hours. Strain gently without pressing the vegetables. For a cloudy but still flavorful stock, press the remaining liquid through separately.
  3. Use high-quality ingredients for a top-notch stock. Avoid using old or wilted vegetables. The stock forms the foundation of your dish, so treat it with care.
  4. Chicken wings can be used for stock. The fat will solidify on the surface overnight in the fridge and can be easily removed the next day.
  5. Skim off any foam or scum that forms during simmering. A gentle simmer prevents impurities from being incorporated back into the stock as it bubbles.
  6. Rinse the chicken in cold water to remove traces of blood, which can cause cloudiness. Alternatively, place the chicken in boiling water to cook the blood before it clouds the stock. Avoid using celery tops for a clear, bright stock.
  7. Don’t add salt to the stock; season the final dish to let the stock’s flavour shine through. If you want to store your stock, freeze it.
  8. Reserve additional vegetables and herbs for the final dish or add them to the stock if the recipe calls for it. Keep the stock’s flavour clean and versatile by avoiding strong or overpowering additions.
A white bowl with chicken consommé a spoon showing clarity.

What is a consommé?

It’s really, really clear stock. Step one, make a stock, step two, make a raft. A raft is a culinary technique used to clarify stocks or broths, resulting in a crystal-clear consommé. The raft is made from a mixture of ground or finely chopped lean meat (usually chicken or fish), egg whites, and a mixture of aromatic vegetables (such as carrots, celery, and onions). As the stock is gently simmered, the raft forms on the surface, trapping and removing impurities from the liquid beneath. clever, huh…😍

To make a raft for clarifying a stock, follow these steps:

  1. Combine ground or finely chopped lean meat (about 200g) and the egg whites from 3-4 eggs in a large mixing bowl. Whisk the mixture together until well combined.
  2. Chop a mix of aromatic vegetables, such as 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk, and 1 small onion, into small pieces. Add them to the meat and egg white mixture, and stir until evenly distributed.
  3. Gently heat your stock in a large pot until it reaches a temperature of around 50°C (120°F).
  4. Add the raft mixture to the warmed stock, constantly but gently stirring as you pour it in. This will help distribute the raft evenly throughout the stock.
  5. Turn the heat to medium-low, stop stirring and let the stock slowly come to a simmer. As the temperature increases, the proteins from the meat and egg whites will coagulate and form a solid raft on the surface, trapping impurities from the stock.
  6. Once the raft has formed, create a small hole in the centre to allow steam to escape. Maintain a gentle simmer for about 1-1.5 hours, not disturbing the raft.
  7. After the simmering time is up, carefully remove the raft using a slotted spoon or skimmer.
  8. Strain the clarified stock through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth, ensuring not to disturb any remaining solids. The result should be a clear, flavorful consommé.

Remember that the raft should not be disturbed during the clarification process, as doing so may cause the impurities and chunky bits to mix back into the stock. This won’t make it inedible, but It won’t be clear.

Close up of chicken and veg in a pot making chicken stock

Chicken stock

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becs-table.com.au
A good chicken stock is the building block of many a good soup, sauce and stew. A quality homemade stock is a Chef staple that's worth mastering.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Course Stock
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 2 litres
Method Conventional

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Like to know more?

Here are some more flavour boosters/stocks 

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