I’m Going to Get a Bit Food Snobby

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:

Salt

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.

White Stock

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.)

Bones in a Pot

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.

Stock Scum

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.

Mirepoix

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.

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  1. #1 by Andrea Ficara Willard on 3.22.2011 - 8:29 pm

    This is almost exactly what I do at home, too! Minus the seasonings as I tend to change them up a lot. Sometimes I don’t have the chicken bones to boil so I resort to the best premade stock/bouillon ratio. Chicken here in Canada, for some reason, is ridiculously expensive. You should really go talk with my mom. She got a culinary degree from Schoolcraft but she has Always cooked like this. People who KNOW good food, like to make it and eat it and pass it down to the next generation.

  2. #2 by Katie Czopp on 3.24.2011 - 9:07 am

    Good post! I love how you take on things that most people would be totally intimidated by. How does making the veggie broth differ? Do you still boil veggies or use a roaster in the oven?
    A couple weeks ago I made homemade tiramisu and I made my own lady fingers for it (super easy!)…I attempted to make my own mascarpone cheese (didn’t work out). I ended up buying it. In the end it took me about 3 days and a lot more money than I was expecting to spend on a random week day dessert. It was worth it though!

    • #3 by e.marie on 3.24.2011 - 5:30 pm

      I love tiramisu and am super impressed that you tried it! I have only done fake tiramisu at home and the real stuff in culinary school. It definitely takes time, but is so worth it.

      Vegetable stock follows the same principle as chicken stock, except you saute the veggies in a bit of oil or roast them in the oven before you start them boiling. You can use any sort of vegetables, but I’d stay away from the really flavorful ones (broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus). If you use root veggies, I’d definitely roast them first. If you’re using more delicate vegetables, go with a light saute. Also, it doesn’t take nearly as long… maybe an hour or so.

  3. #4 by Katie Czopp on 3.25.2011 - 9:55 am

    Awesome. Thanks! I always buy veggie stock at the store but it’s really expensive (especially the organic low sodium kind). I’ll have to try this sometime!
    P.S. Soo excited for New Orleans!!!

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