What’s the difference between chicken broth and chicken stock? The consensus is that stock relies more on bones for flavor and for structure and broth relies more on meat. Note that both stock and broth use meat and bones in their execution, so the line is a bit blurry. Stock also often employs other flavoring agents, generally vegetables, aromatics, and herbs. With that tricky bit of definition out of the way, here’s how to make a deep, rich chicken stock. This process assumes you’ve Roasted a Chicken with flavoring agents to Make a Pan Sauce. If you haven’t done those things, you’ll need one or two chicken carcasses and some celery, carrots, onions, bay leaves and other herbs.
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WHAT YOU NEED:
- the bones from one or two roast chickens, or the equivalent in meat and bones. The best way to handle this is to put the carcasses in a bag in the freezer and wait until you have time to make stock or until your freezer is full of bones.
- the flavoring agents from the roasting pan. If you didn’t use flavoring agents, you’ve got two options:
- Option 1 – Raw carrots, celery, onions. Put 5-6 carrots, 5-6 celery stalks, and a coarsely chopped white or yellow onion directly into the stockpot with the carcass.
- Option 2 – Collect 3-4 medium to large carrots, a white or yellow onion (coarsely chopped or sliced), 3-4 stalks of celery and put them in a bowl. Throw in a bit of olive oil and toss to coat the vegetables. Roast for 45-60 minutes in a 450-degree oven. If you like them, you can add mushrooms or garlic.
Roasting the vegetables, whether in the pan with your chicken or on their own, brings a deeper and richer flavor to the party. It’s not essential, but it definitely gives your stock a more nuanced flavor. Bonus, roasting also concentrates the flavors, so you can use fewer flavoring agents. Consider, too, if you have a specific recipe in mind for this stock. That may dictate whether you prefer the lighter flavor from using raw flavoring agents.
- Fresh or dried herbs, including 2-3 bay leaves. I grow thyme, sage, and rosemary, so I generally just harvest what I need for my stock. But in the winter, my sage plant may not have viable growth, so I’ll use dried sage at that point. Again, consider if you have a final recipe in mind and choose herbs accordingly.
WHAT TO DO:
FIRST – Take two (ideally) chicken carcasses (or approximately 5 lbs of bones/meat) and put them into a deep stock pot. Cover with 8-10 quarts of water.
SECOND – Add in the flavoring agents (vegetables) and bay leaves
THIRD – Add a teaspoon of salt and 8 peppercorns. Cover and bring to a boil.
FOURTH– Once the boiling point is reached, reduce to a simmer and let cook for at least 4 hours and preferably 8 or more. Stir occasionally. If the liquid evaporates too much, just add a cup or so of water as needed.
FIFTH– When you’re nearly done simmering the stock, add in your herbs. I usually aim to put the herbs in for the last hour of cooking. That extracts their flavor without cooking it into oblivion.
SIXTH – Allow the stock to cool to the point where you can safely handle it. Pour the stock through a fine sieve or strainer. I find it helpful to use tongs to remove the large pieces of bone before I strain.
SEVENTH – If necessary, go ahead and put your stock into use. If you’re not making it for immediate, specific use, then put the strained stock in the fridge overnight. The fat will rise to the top and make a solid layer, which you can (and should) scoop off. Doing so will yield a clearer, cleaner stock. From there, you can make a final adjustment to the stock seasoning if you wish, or you can wait until you’re using it and correct the seasoning in the context of the recipe.
Once the stock is cooled and skimmed, you can use it immediately or portion it into smaller containers for freezing. I like to freeze stock in 2 cup plastic containers as that’s a useful increment for other recipes.
You can also pressure can your stock. It may sound advanced and wild, but it’s really quite simple and perfectly safe IF you follow canning guidelines and safety measures. I like to can my stock because it stays shelf-stable at room temperature (no need to thaw!) AND it doesn’t take up freezer space. Having said that, I do keep some in the freezer, too.
Here Are Five Ways to Use Your Chicken Stock
1- use it in place of water when you cook rice, orzo, legumes, pasta or vegetables.
2- bring two cups to a boil, then drizzle in two raw, scrambled eggs for a super easy egg drop soup.
3 – poach a piece of fish or chicken in stock
4 – add it to drippings from cooked meat to thin or enrich pan sauce
5 – combine with cornstarch, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and ginger to make a dynamite stir fry sauce.
Oh, and you can also use it any time a recipe calls for purchased chicken stock.
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