There’s something about a big pot of homemade chicken stock simmering away on the stove that’s just so darn.. awesome. And comforting, too, of course. I thrill myself by being thrifty–carving away on that chicken, saving the bits of meat for, oh, I don’t know, soup or enchiladas tomorrow, throwing in old carrots and onions, and making something utterly delicious. I made Thomas Keller’s roast chicken on a bed of root vegetables the other day, which I’ll write up later, and one of the best parts was what lay beneath the meat: Bones.
So I beg of you: The next time you make something that has a, you know, carcass left over.. Keep that skeleton! Make stock! You’ll be so pleased by yourself.
Here I’m talking about poultry stock, as seafood stock is different, as is beef stock and pork stock. We are, however, having beef ribs tomorrow, so I’ll probably tackle that one soon. The basics are pretty.. basic. Onion, carrot, celery, garlic, peppercorns, herbs, and, of course, the bones. Depending on the size of your pot and the amount of bones you have, you may use just one onion, or maybe two. I used a gigundo dutch oven this time, so I had two onions, two carrots, two stalks of celery, etc. And different cuisines call for different ingredients–a good Chinese chicken stock has ginger and rice wine–but this is a versatile little recipe. And trust me, you’ll never go back to those notorious yellow boxes of stock in the grocery; this stuff freezes perfectly. Pour some in a Ziploc bag and freeze for hefty uses; make stock cubes in an ice cube tray for utter convenience. See how creative you are?
Basic Chicken Stock
One chicken carcass, plus the neck and a couple uncooked pieces if you got ’em. Otherwise, the leftover bones, if you don’t have a full carcass.
One or two medium Spanish onions, unpeeled, quartered.
One or two large carrots, unpeeled, cut into 2″ long pieces
One or two stalks celery, cut in half
Several cloves garlic, unpeeled and smashed
Four to six sprigs thyme
One bay leaf
One to two teaspoons black peppercorns
Salt, to taste.
Throw all ingredients, minus salt, in a really big pot and cover by about an inch of cold water.
Put on the stove over medium/medium-high heat ’til hot (but not boiling!) and then reduce heat to a very, very gentle simmer. Don’t cover. Occasionally skim fat from the top of the stock and salt gradually to taste. Maybe a couple hours later, when you’re satisfied with the taste and all that, drain, and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, scrape off the solid white fat goo, and you’ve got stock!
I typically leave my stock on the stove for about four hours, but then again, I just really enjoy the process. You can certainly make a decent stock in about 1.5 to 2 hours, if you gotta.