Saturday, June 30, 2012

Homemade Chicken Stock

It is so simple and gratifying to make homemade stock in your own kitchen and it is much tastier than a lot of the boxed varieties from the store. Another bonus is the satisfaction of making it yourself and the amazing, comforting aromas that will fill your kitchen on any given day that you to decide to make homemade stock.
NOTE:  Yes, there are professional opinions on what constitutes stock versus broth.  Whether I start from an already-cooked chicken or from raw, I've always just used the term stock.  Also, there are ideas out there that stock does not traditionally include salt or seasoning ... and that broth does.  (Stock is considered a base for making broth, I've read.)  You can choose not to salt or season this "stock" (and season later when using in a recipe to create a "broth").  This is simply my method and recipe.

Most of the time, I begin with what's left behind from a store-bought rotisserie or home-roasted whole chicken. But, it can be done with uncooked chicken pieces on the bone and with the skin on. If you're starting with uncooked pieces of chicken or a whole uncooked chicken, you can pick off the cooked chicken for another use when stock is completed.

In large stock pot, place the following ingredients:

A couple of large onions, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 - 3 stalks of celery, cut into large pieces
2 - 3 carrots, cut into large chunks
1 tomato, cut into large chunks (or a small spoonful of tomato paste)
1 peeled garlic clove, smashed
1/2 of a lemon (optional)
1 bay leaf
A pinch of herbs de Provence or any combination of herbs you like (optional)
A sprinkling of kosher salt
A couple of large spoonfuls of chicken base or 4 - 5 chicken bouillon cubes

Pour in enough cold water to cover contents of pot.  Bring to a boil.

Cook over medium-low heat for several hours ... or until veggies are mushy and chicken is falling apart. "Skim" off any fat or white foam as the stock cooks, if needed. I pull my half of lemon out about 1 hour into cooking so the stock doesn't become overpowered by lemon flavor.

Check for seasoning and adjust salt or chicken base, as needed. If your stock seems too salty, just add a bit of water to dilute it. 

Strain in a colander with another large pan or bowl underneath to catch the stock.

When not using immediately, I store my stock in canning jars with lids for up to three days in the fridge or in storage containers in the freezer.

Use for homemade chicken noodle soup, chicken and dumplings or however you'd normally use store-bought stock.

NOTE: All of the ingredients can be put into a gallon freezer bag and froze until you're ready to cook. Thaw overnight in the fridge before cooking. (Add water when cooking.)  Also, if you have a carcass from a roasted chicken, but don't want to take the time to throw together everything for stock at the moment, toss the carcass in a freezer bag and store in the freezer until you're ready to make stock.

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