A couple of weeks ago I posted about how to brine and roast a chicken where I wrote how I always assumed that everyone realized that roasting a chicken was easy and how that assumption made an “ass out of u and me.” My second assumption was that people also knew how easy it was to make chicken stock and did not need me to provide that information. Again, I was disabused of this notion.
So, here we are with my easy-peasy recipe for homemade chicken stock. You don’t need much more than a big soup pot, the leftover bones from that roasted chicken, and some vegetable odds and ends. There are a couple of options here as to how you make the stock.
Homemade Chicken Stock Options:
Option #1 is the recipe below where the chicken bones are roasted first with onions. This results in a nice rich stock with a dark brown color which is perfect for stews, some soups, and darker beans where color is not important or the darker color is wanted. Roasting the onion also enhances the flavor of the stock.
Within this option, there is a secondary choice to be made (option “B” below) which is how you cook the stock; on the stovetop or in the oven. On the stovetop is faster and yields great results. Cooking the stock in the oven is a slower process but gives you a highly reduced rich stock (almost the chicken equivalent to a demi-glace) without much effort.
Option #2 is for a light clear stock. In this one, don’t roast the chicken bones and the onion, just skip the roasting step and put everything into the pot of water, and bring to a simmer. This is stock you would use in a cream soup, maybe in white beans or something which calls for a light broth. It still has plenty of flavor and given that it has one less step is slightly easier. For this one, don’t use the oven method as it might darken the color too much.
As for the vegetables, don’t be afraid to use those limp carrots and celery from the back of the crisper bin, they will be just fine. I’ve been known to save the odds and ends and put them in a heavy plastic bag in the freezer until I’m ready to make stock as well. When I worked in a restaurant kitchen we used to throw the carrot peels, celery tops, parsley stems, and just about everything else into the stock.
Finally, I don’t add salt to the stock. I prefer to save the addition of salt for when I use the stock later. Most commercially made chicken stock is very high in sodium which is why you now see “low sodium” stock on the shelves.
fresh herbs like parsley stemsthyme, rosemary, etc.
waterabout 5 quarts
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the chicken bones and sliced onions in a roasting pan and roast for about 30 minutes total. After the first 15 minutes, turn the onions over so both sides get browned.
Transfer the browned chicken bones and onions to a 6 qt pot (I've had the All Clad 6 qt stock pot shown in these photos for over a decade, and I love it). Add the other vegetables; carrots, celery, fresh herbs, garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves.
Bring to a simmer (do not boil) and cook for about 2 hours. If the amount of water gets below the bones and vegetables you can add more to cover. After a couple of hours, it's ready to use. However, if you want it to be more concentrated, you can allow it to cook longer, until it reduces by about 1/3 the total volume.
Cover with cold water, about 5 quarts.
Option B is to cook the stock in the pot (once you have brought it to a simmer) in the oven at 200 degrees, uncovered for 6-8 hours. This gives the stock a low, even cooking temperature and as it sits in the oven, it slowly reduces down into a very rich stock. Sometimes I do a combo; 2 hours on the stove, 2 in the oven.
When the stock is done to your preference, depending on cooking method, it's time to strain it. I take the big pieces out with tongs (this reduces splashing later) and pour the stock through a fine mesh sieve.