Chicken Stock

Chicken Stock

I’m torn – I already said there’s nothing more valuable you can have in the freezer than tomato sauce… then I thought about chicken stock. Sure, you can make it up as you need it or buy the canned stuff, but home brew stuff is so easy and good that it seems a natural to make some once in a while and keep it around. I make about a quart at a time and freeze it in ice cube trays so I always have a bag full in the freezer for when I need it.

Like many of our recipes, it’s not so much a ‘recipe’ as a mindset, but here’s a rough list of stuff you may want to include.

1-2 pound(s) of chicken bones
1-2 diced onion(s) (optional)
1-2 diced stalk(s) of celery (optional)
1-2 diced medium carrot(s) (optional)
1-2 diced medium bell pepper(s) (optional)
1-6 crushed cloves of garlic (optional)

1-2 quart(s) of water
1-2 cup(s) of white wine (optional)
Salt and pepper

The chicken bones are kind of essential but the rest is totally flexible. When you buy one of those supermarket rotissserie checkens, strip the bones, and bag them for this.

If I’ve de-boned chicken breasts or thighs, I add those bones to the bag, too. A lot of small butcher shops sell frozen bags of chicken necks, backs and bones from stuff they’ve portioned up. They’re usually dirt cheap and taste just as good as any other chicken bones. If you’re including raw bones, remember that you need to brown them before you start your stock, but you can do that right in the stock pot.

The rest of the stuff is completely up to you. Don’t like celery? Don’t bother with it. Love garlic? Add a whole head! Not a fan of bell pepper? Don’t worry – the chicken stock cops aren’t going to come visit you. The goal is to make it taste good to you, so ignore the rule book.

Start by heating your medium sized pot over medium heat. Add a bit of olive oil to the bottom and throw any uncooked chicken bones in the there. Let them get nice and brown to build up some good, rich flavour. Dump in the diced veggies and give them a few minutes to start to darken and caramelize a bit. Like the chicken bones, the darker you let them get, the richer your stock will be.

When you’re happy with how dark everything is, add the liquids. Wine isn’t essential, but if you’ve got some, there are worse things you could do with it. Crack a fresh bottle and pour yourself and the pot each a glass.

Crank the heat all the way up and scrape loose all the dark bits that stuck to the bottom of the pot, add a bit of salt and pepper. Don’t worry about adding a lot of each, yet, just get some in there to help everything else get happy.

Once it’s come to a boil, reduce to a simmer, put a lid on and walk away. Check on it once in a while to make sure it’s not boiled dry, but give it a good three or four hours to simmer. The longer it simmers, the better. When you can’t wait any longer, turn off the heat and let it cool off a bit, then strain out all the solid bits and throw those into the compost. Taste it and add more salt of pepper if it needs some. If you want something clear, strain it through a few layers of cheese-cloth. I usually don’t add other spices to my stock, as I never know what it’s going to end up in and the end product will have lots of spice in it.

Freeze it in sizes and containers that work for you. I pour mine into ice cube trays so I’ve always got a bunch of cubes of frozen stock available right there in the freezer.





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