I never used to think about chicken stock.
When I needed chicken stock in a recipe, I would just dissolve a stock cube in water. This extended to even eating broth made from a stock cube when I was sick. And if I really wanted to splash out on a recipe, I would splurge on some pre-packaged liquid stock from the store.
That is, until I discovered how easy it is to make homemade stock! Plus, homemade chicken stock:
* tastes better
* is more nutritious (no preservatives, and have you seen the amount of sodium in those pre-made stocks?!)
* costs less
* helps you use up all those chicken and veg leftovers (great-grandma would be proud!)
Homemade chicken stock can be used right away in soup, or frozen (either in big containers for soup, or small containers for cooking – even in ice cube trays to easily throw into recipes!)
Vintage Tip – homemade chicken broth is also brilliant ‘convalescence’ food (we don’t ‘convalesce’ much anymore, but it’s the process of resting during/after an illness to let your body heal itself) – in general terms, if you’re sick, eat some warm broth, maybe with some mushy noodles in it. Total comfort food!
Remember our Classic Roast Chicken? Making stock is the activity for the next day. Although the stock needs to simmer for a few hours, the active time is very minimal – just throw everything in a pot and let it cook!
Here I describe how to make chicken stock, since that’s the one I make most often. But you can apply similar principles to make a beef or veal stock as well (or even a vegetable stock, just leave out the meat and add more veggies!).
VintageAmanda Essential Chicken Stock
1) If you have a roast chicken – pick off all the bits of meat and save them for later (these can go into a soup, casserole, sandwich wraps, enchiladas etc.)
2) Take all the scraps and put in a large pot. Definitely include all of the bones. More bones are better- they really add flavor!
3) Add veggies cut in large chunks. Generally I add: 1 onion, halved. 3 Carrots. 2 Celery sticks. 1 bay leaf. 2 tsp whole peppercorns, 3 cloves garlic, smashed. Optionally add some whole fresh herbs if you have some (I like using fresh thyme). Onion/Carrots/Celery are the important tridium of veggie seasoning, so try to add those if you can.
4) Add cold water to cover all of the chicken and the veggies. Ideally coming within 2 inches of the top of the pot.
5) Cover pot. Bring to boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer, leave pot covered, and let simmer for at least 1 hour. Longer is better! (I generally let mine simmer for 2 hours, or put it all in a crock pot / slower cooker, and let it simmer away all day).
6) Strain. This can get messy. You may want to let it cool a bit so you aren’t splattering scalding stock everywhere. I strain through a big colander into another bowl. The stock should have a nice golden color. Save the liquid, throw out the chicken and compost the veggies.
7) Season. Taste the stock. I generally add a fair amount of salt at this point (which will still be much less than in the storebought kind!).
8) You can put the stock in storage containers (I like 1-2 cup storage containers which I then freeze, since these are an easy size to use in recipes.). Alternatively, if you want to skim the stock (reduce the fat content), let stock chill in fridge overnight. This will bring all of the fat to the top. Skim off the fat, and then pour remaining liquid into storage containers.
Your stock may go all ‘jelly’ like once it’s cold. This is OK! It will liquify again when you heat it up.
Now you have lots of options. You can make soup immediately (a great way to use up that leftover chicken). Or freeze individual containers which you can reheat when you need a single serving of stock. Or include it in a recipe just like you would with a stock cube.
Have you tried making stock?? What’s your favorite way to use it?