My snobby revelation (for this week anyway) is that I make my own chicken stock. I know, why go through all the trouble when you can walk into any grocery store and buy it in a handy can or box? And, I have a one word answer for you:
Have you seen how much sodium is in prepared chicken stock? Even the low-sodium variety is still chock full of the white stuff. I’ll let you in on a secret: Real chicken stock has no salt in it. In fact, salt makes stock cloudy and you don’t want cloudy stock.
Better living through chemistry, my ass. So, I’ve decided to show you how easy it is to make your own chicken stock. (In culinary circles, this is known as white stock.) Try it once and you will never look back. Trust me.
First a bit of definition:
- Stock: Basically a clear, flavored liquid. It is the basis of any good soup or sauce. It’s made from simmering a combination of liquid, bones, veggies, and seasoning. Then, all of the solid bits are removed and you’re left with a clear liquid.
- White stock: Made with chicken, veal, beef or game bones where the stock remains relatively colorless.
- Brown stock: Usually made from beef or veal bones (but it can be made with any bones) that have been caramelized before simmering so that the stock comes out… you guessed it, brown.
- Fish stock/fumet: Stock made from fish bones or crustacean shells. It’s very strong and will make your house smell like a fish monger.
- Vegetable stock/court bouillon: Just veggies, no bones. Good for poaching fish and veggies.
- Broth: Think of it as stock plus. Broth has a meatier quality (since instead of using just bones, you simmer bits of meat to make broth.) You can eat broth alone (especially when sick), but you probably wouldn’t want to eat stock on its own. It’s just kind of eh.
- Consommé: Stock or broth that has been clarified to remove the impurities. Clear broths are typically considered consommés.
Makes ½ gallon. (You can freeze it.)
- 3 lbs chicken bones
- 6 qts cold water (or until you cover the bones in the pot)
- ½ lb mirepoix
- A sachet made of: 1 bay leaf, ¼ t dried thyme, ¼ t crushed peppercorns, and 2 parsley stems
Wash your bones and cut them into even pieces about 3 to 4 inches long.
Put the bones in a stock pot and cover with the cold water. This will be about 6 qts, but use more or less depending on your need. (So, realistically, you’ll have to have at least an 8-quart stock pot… which is a standard size.)
Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. From here on out, you do not want the stock to boil again. A gentle simmer only. By this time, a scum will have formed on the top.
You’ll need to skim this off with a spoon or small ladle. Keep a bowl and the spoon or ladle next to the stove as you’re going to be skimming a bit during this process. One helpful hint: Place your stock pot a bit off center from the burner (assuming you have a gas or electric stove). This way, the scum will form on one side and it will be easier to skim off.
Add the mirepoix and sachet to the simmering stock. Mirepoix is fancy French for that stuff that gives everything it’s flavor—onion, celery, and carrot. The ratio for mirepoix is half onion, one-fourth carrot, and one-fourth celery.
DO NOT STIR! The boiling and then simmering is causing the impurities (scum) to float to the top. Stirring will just mix those impurities back into your stock. Remember, the goal here is to have a clear, flavored liquid. Not something with bits of ick floating in it.
Continue simmering and skimming for 3 to 4 hours. If you use veal or beef bones (instead of just chicken), you’ll need to simmer for 6 to 8 hours.
Strain and cool. You are done. Now, you can put it in the fridge or freeze it. Make yourself some tasty soup or wonderful sauces.