Thursday, October 8, 2009

Liquid Gold

That is to say, homemade chicken stock!  I love this recipe because it gives the stock time to fill your kitchen with delicious chicken-y fragrance, which is wonderful to come home to on a cold day--whether or not you're having soup for dinner that night :)

I know a lot of women don't have time to make homemade stock--but if you have time to roast a whole chicken, you also have time to make the stock. Be sure to save all the bones people nibble from your chicken (we usually just put the legs and wings back in the pan with the rest of the chicken).

So here's how to make stock:

Pick all the meat off a roasted chicken (there's some on the back of the bird, too!). Reserve the meat for later use (chicken salad, sandwiches, soups, etc).

Place the chicken bones (and skin and "goop" from the bottom of the roasting pan--that's all good fat that you can remove later, but can extract the nutrients from while boiling) in a large (at least 6-quart size for a 5 pound roasting chicken) stock pot on the stove .  If you want, you can even break the larger bones in half so that the marrow is more exposed.

Add to the pot:
4 quarts cool water (preferably filtered)
3 carrots
2 celery stalks
1 large onion
2 T vinegar

Let the chicken and vegetables soak in the cool water with the vinegar for 30-60 minutes.  Turn the heat to medium-high and bring the stock to a boil, skimming off any foam that rises to the top (discard foam).

Reduce heat and let stock simmer (crack the lid of the pan just a tiny bit--you don't want too much steam to escape) for 3-6 hours (!), stirring occasionally.

This is the part where people usually say "I don't have that kind of time!" But here's the trick: if the heat is low enough to just keep the stock very hot-but-not-boiling, you can go about your merry business while it's "stocking."  I've even left the pot on overnight (is that horrible? we have an electric range--maybe that makes it safer?) and strained the stock in afternoon of the next day.

When you declare the stock done, add a large bunch of parsley and simmer for another 10 minutes (you get more minerals that way), then turn off the heat and let it cool to at least lukewarm.

When cool, pour stock into a suitable container through a strainer (you can use as fine a strainer as you want. I've used everything from a light-weight tea towel to a strainer lined with cheese cloth before for very clear stock, but lately I've just been using our colander which lets more chicken "stuff" through. It's a "personal taste" thing (or, for me, a laziness thing!)).

If you have a compost pile, I'm sure you can add the stuff-in-the-strainer to the pile.  I just have to throw my gunk in the trash (I usually put it in an old ziploc if I won't be taking the trash out in the near future).

Place the container in the refrigerator for several hours (or overnight--it doesn't matter a whole lot).  When the fat has solidified on the top, remove it with a spoon and discard.

Now you have delicious chicken stock!  I put 2-cup portions in a zip-loc bag and freeze it for later use.  If you let the stock simmer overnight, you get a very concentrated stock and can use the 2 c stock + 2 c water for 1 quart of stock in most recipes. The amount of stock you get (and the concentration) varies depending on how long you boil it and how much steam you allow to escape.  So just be sure to have quite a few ziplocs when you are ready to freeze it :)

Now go make some soup!


  1. We got a chicken from Costco and I'm makin' this tonight!

  2. I think I might try this tonight...If I have time. We have been having chicken every monday night thanks to you. Wish me luck.

  3. Good for you, ladies! Best of luck in your stock adventures :)