Chicken Stock, A Mother Sauce
Chicken stock should be a mother sauce. It’s not, but it should be. This light, flavorful broth is the building block for so many recipes. As you will see, it can be used in numerous ways, and in combination with so many other things. Some people are intimidated by making stock. There is a lot of time involved, sure, but it’s cooking time. Chicken stock is easy and simple to do, and every kitchen needs a supply of this wonderful elixir.
Benefits of Stock
The perks from using homemade stock are almost too great to count. It is extremely nutritious. It’s packed with minerals and collagen, and it aids in digestion. It’s cheaper to make it, than it is to buy store brands. You can save up the ingredients, and avoid throwing away vegetable pieces and left over chicken. Waste not, want not. Besides, it cures the common cold. Don’t believe me? Just ask your grandma.
Components of Stock
The terms stock and broth can be used interchangeably. Technically, broth is made using more meat, and stock is made with bones. Bone broth is another term used to refer to stock. The major components of stock are:
The chicken can include meat, but you definitely want bones. For the vegetables, use things like carrots, onion, celery and leeks (white part only). Herbs you might want to consider include thyme, parsley, bay leaves, garlic and peppercorns. the ratio should roughly be two pounds of chicken and bones to two quarts of water. Good stock should have a mild flavor, and be aromatic. It shouldn’t overpower the dish you are making. You can extract the most flavor from the bones, by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice. If you really want gelatinous stock, throw a couple of chicken feet in the mix!
Making Chicken Stock
Save up your scrap veggies in a freezer bag. When you have enough vegetables, buy a five to six pound rotisserie chicken. Slice up the breast meat for another use. Dismantle the rest of the bird. Throw the bird, your thawed veggies, and some herbs in a stock pot. Cover the whole thing with water, and bring to a simmer. That’s it in a nutshell. It’s a tiny bit more involved, but not much. Leave the skins on your vegetables, and you can roast them for a bit if you like. Surface area is a good thing here. So, cut the vegetables into rough pieces, and if you are feeling adventurous, hack the bones apart with a cleaver. There’s a lot written about skimming the surface of the stock as it simmers. This isn’t necessary if you keep the temperature at a low level, and strain the stock.
Chicken Stock Storage
Chicken stock will stay fresh for a good long while. You can store it in the fridge for four to five days. In the freezer, it will keep for up to six months. Freeze it in capacities that you know you cook with. You can use quart size freezer bags or smaller ones for cup size. Refrigerate the stock first, but expect a layer of fat to form on the top. If you plan to freeze the broth, you will need to remove the fat layer prior to freezing. Otherwise, leave it, and you’ll have more flavor for your next dish.
What Can You Do With It?
Let me count the ways:
- Soups and Gravies
- Rice and Risotto
- In Place of Wine
- Braising and Poaching
One of the great things you can do with chicken stock is to add a few more aromatics, and then reduce it by half. You end up with stock on steroids. It becomes richer and more complex. This would make a great base for a lot of wonderful dishes. Try this in a homemade pot pie, and you may never make them the same way again. Making stock is time consuming, but nothing else you do in your kitchen is more valuable. Taking the time to make chicken stock will elevate your cooking to levels you never thought possible.
- 1 5 to 6 Pound Rotisserie Chicken Carcass, wings, legs and thighs (or 2 small ones)
- 2 Medium Carrots, Roughly Chopped
- 2 Stalks Celery, Roughly Chopped
- 1 Medium Yellow Onion, Roughly Chopped
- 6 to 8 Sprigs Fresh Parsley, Chopped
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 8 to 10 Whole Black Peppercorns
- 2 Whole Garlic Cloves, Peeled
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
- 2 Sprigs Fresh Thyme or Rosemary (Optional)
- 2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt as Needed or To Taste
- 10 to 12 Cups Cool Water
- Cut the vegetables into large pieces, leaving skins intact. Place the chicken carcass, wings, legs and thighs into a dutch oven or stock pot. Add the vegetables, garlic, herbs, peppercorns and salt to the pot.
- Add the water, making sure the ingredients are covered by two inches of water. Bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer, partially covered 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
- Remove the pot from the heat, and allow the stock to cool. Remove as much of the carcass and vegetables as possible with kitchen tongs and a ladle. Discard the carcass, and vegetables. Pour the stock through a fine mesh sieve, into another container. Press the solids to remove as much liquid as possible. Discard any remaining solid ingredients.
- Transfer to storage containers for refrigeration, or freezer bags for freezing.