Cooking Basics: Homemade Chicken Stock

dark chicken stock
Homemade chicken stock-not as difficult as it sounds, although it takes some forethought.  Next time you roast a chicken or make chicken wings or anything like that, clean and bag up those bones and throw them in the freezer!  The more bones you have, the better and richer your stock will be.  I made today’s batch with just one bird – all bones including the neck.  It wasn’t perfectly clean (meaning there was still some skin/meat on the bones) but with just a little extra straining and skimming, it turned into amazing stock and made more than a gallon!

Step one: get a large stock pot, add vegetable oil to the bottom, get it smoking over medium high heat (like a 7 out of 10) and roast the bones for about 10-25 minutes until deep brown, stirring to ensure it doesn’t just burn:
brown and roast the bones
While the bones are roasting, chop carrots, celery and onion:
roughly chop the vegetables
After the bones are really good and roasted, add in the vegetables. You’ll notice I didn’t peel the carrots.  Keep it simple – you won’t be eating these vegetables – they’re just for flavor!  A rough chop should do it.  I threw in three garlic cloves, too, just for fun.
roast the vegetables and bones together
Let the vegetables roast with the bones until the carrots begin to soften.
create your herb packet
Make a bouquet garni (a little herb packet).  Don’t have cheesecloth?  Use a coffee filter!  I added thyme, bay leaves and peppercorns.  Tie it all up with string and throw it into the pot along with enough water to cover everything by about 4 inches:
tie up the packet in twine
Let it simmer for a long time.  Bring the whole pot to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer and let it sit there all day.  Four or five hours.  When it’s done, strain out all the vegetables and anything that escaped your herb packet.
strain and strain and strain again
Strain again.  And again.  And again.  I got crazy and strained through a coffee filter.  This took way too long…
strain
Be smart like my husband and chill the stock in the fridge and the fat will rise to the top and solidify and you can just scrape it off.  Genius.  That’s why I keep him around.
Homemade Chicken Stock
Voila – beautiful chicken stock!  And very very little sodium.  I didn’t salt this stock so all the salt you add to your soups can be YOUR doing and not hidden somewhere in the stock!  Like I said, this batch made over a gallon and I used it for soups, pan sauces, pasta dishes, risotto, etc.  You can freeze in large muffin tins that hold a cup each and take out a cup each time you need it!  Ours doesn’t last that long, but if you don’t cook with stock really frequently, you might want to freeze it, as most stocks will last about two weeks before getting funky.

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