Saturday, October 15, 2011

Chicken Stock

I finally got myself a real stockpot a few years ago, a pot significantly taller than it is wide, about 12 quarts, as I found myself making stock on a regular basis, storing it in our freezer in small plastic containers to have available anytime for a recipe. I've never liked either the canned broth nor the cubes with all of the inevitable salt they contain, especially since with just a bit of diligence I can maintain a steady supply. Here is an amalgamation of recipes I've tried for basic clear chicken stock.

Notes:
You can use any chicken bones for this, raw or from a cooked chicken. The flavor comes from the bones and the meat so you can even use a whole chicken for it. I keep backs and necks from chickens that I've cut up for recipes and freeze them. When I get a few pounds of them, I can make stock from them. You can also go to a butcher and ask for necks and backs, very cheap to purchase. Many markets also keep necks and backs packaged as well. My big preference for anything to do with chicken is to purchase free-range, antibiotic and hormone-free, so would probably eat vegetarian if I cannot find them rather than eat from factory farms. 


Ingredients: 
3 pounds chicken bones/meat
1 onion peeled and quartered
2 carrots cut into chunks
2 celery ribs cut into chunks
1 bunch parsley
3 bay leaves
Several whole black peppercorns
4 quarts water

Directions:
Add the chicken, vegetables and herbs to a large stockpot and add the water. Over medium-high heat bring to a boil then immediately reduce to a simmer. Once the water is close to boiling you will notice a fair amount of impurities starting to float up to the surface. Use a large spoon to skim them off as this will continue to occur for the first several minutes of the simmer. Between the skimming and the reduction of the heat, you will be preventing the impurities from being drawn back into the stock which at the end of the cooking will give you a clear broth.


Besides having a superior flavor, the clarity of the stock will allow you the option to further reduce the broth once you've strained out the ingredients. Sometimes I find it beneficial to concentrate the flavors of a stock for some recipes.


Allow the stock to simmer for about 3 hours partially covered keeping an occasional eye on it as it cooks. At the end, turn off the heat and when it's cooled somewhat, remove the ingredients with tongs and dispose of them as they are no longer useful. Strain the stock into a strainer over another large pot or bowl and then strain again. If you are going to be using the stock right away, make sure it is hot before incorporating it into a dish.

To store, cool the stock completely and skim off fat that floats to the top before freezing for long term storage or refrigerating for use within a week.