Chicken Stock

Many recipes call for chicken stock - gumbo, soups, sauces, and even rice! Chicken stock is available at most supermarkets and is generally inexpensive. Although canned chicken stock works fine in most cases, there is nothing better than homemade chicken stock. Homemade chicken stock tastes richer and more savory than stock poured from a can. Homemade chicken stock is very simple to make - it only takes a little patience. Besides tasting great, making chicken stock is more economical than buying stock at the store. Also, since you have to use a chicken (or two) to make stock, you end up with lots of chicken meat to use for other dishes. So compared to store bought stock, homemade chicken stock is tastier, more economical, and makes better use of ingredients. There are other types of stocks including beef, veal, seafood, and vegetable that are used for different purposes. I find chicken stock to be the most useful and usable across the most recipes (vs. seafood stock which really only works for seafood dishes).

In essence, the process for making chicken stock is simple: boil a chicken in water for a while, take the chicken out, boil what's left for a while to get it tasting great, strain and enjoy. The other nice thing about making chicken stock is that it is not a scientific process: you can modify your timings and measurements and can still end up with a great result.

Things You Will Need

2 whole chickens (fryers)

2 large yellow onions, quartered, skin left on

2 bay leaves

2 tbsp. whole peppercorns

2 tbsp. salt

2 whole sprigs of thyme

Step 1

Use a large, deep pot to make the stock. Clean the chickens by washing under cold water, both inside and out. Remove any excess fat from the chickens. Place the chickens in the pot and add enough cold water to cover both birds by about 2 inches. Add the other ingredients. Set the stove burner to high heat and allow the water to come to a boil. Allow to boil for ten minutes and adjust the heat to medium. The water should be simmering. After about 30 to 45 minutes, you should see some gray looking foam accumulate to the top of the simmering water. This is affectionately called "scum" (yes, that's the word) and needs to be removed from the stock. You need a nifty tool called a skimmer which you buy almost anywhere. Use your skimmer to skim the scum (sounds like a poem) off the top of the stock and throw it away. Continue to do this until you have removed all the visible scum (this will take multiple skims). Let the stock simmer for another hour to an hour and a half.

Step 2

Very carefully remove the chickens and place in a large bowl to cool. Turn the heat back up to medium high and let the stock reduce for another 1-2 hours. After 1 hour, taste the stock and if necessary add more salt to taste. When the stock tastes delicious, remove the stock by pouring it through a strainer into another large pot or bowl. I usually use a colander with some paper towels on top. If you have one at your disposal, you may use a fancy (and expensive) strainer called a chinois. Ideally, to prevent the development of bacteria, you should cool the stock as quickly as possible by placing it in an ice bath. I usually fill up my sick with ice and place the stock pot in the center, making sure the pot is surrounded by the ice. Once cooled to room temperature, store and refrigerate.

You can now use your stock for any recipe that calls for chicken stock. Experiment with different seasonings and spices. Also try reducing the stock further for use in rich sauces. The stock will also freeze well.

Tips & Warnings