Tricks To A Great Homemade Chicken Stock

Homemade Chicken Stock
Chicken stock is one of those things that seems like it could be a little intimidating but really it's quite easy if you know a couple of tricks. I'll admit, it can be a little tedious to make as it does need a long simmer time to really let the flavors develop. But like most things that take time, the payoff is totally worth it and it can really make a difference between a good dish and a great one.

To simplify things, I think it helps to think of stock as water that you want to just nail with as much flavor as possible.  The flavor comes from a low and long simmering of roasted chicken, crisp, earthy vegetables and fresh herbs to whatever else you can dream up. Making your own stock also gives you a great opportunity to flavor things just the way you want to for whatever you plan to use it for is. Additionally, while stock might be a lot of work, it freezes beautifully in large quantities to use as a base for a quick soup or can be frozen into ice cube trays to easily add an extra layer of flavor to sauces.

Before you get started with your stock, there are some things that you'll want to consider beforehand. When I make stock, I like to keep it pretty basic so that I can use it for lots of dishes, rather than being limited to one flavor, thus limiting the dishes you can make. But you'll want to think about what you want to use the stock for. Whatever it is you add, remember that you have one goal: get the most flavor out of the ingredients. For a basic stock, I use the following:
  • 1 Chicken Carcass 
  • 1 large onion, roughly diced
  • 4-5 carrots, roughly diced
  • 3 cloves garlic 
  • 4-5 parsley stems
  • 1 bay leaf

    Now to put it all together, here's some helpful hints:
    • You can roast the carcass bones first to get more flavor. Just be careful to keep an eye on it, if the bones burn, your stock is going to be toast.
    • Sauteeing the vegetables up in a bit of olive oil first helps to bring out the flavors
    • Once you add the carcass to the stock pot, only fill the water up to just cover the bones
    • Never let the stock come to a boil. A steady, slow simmer is key
    • For a clearer stock, skim off the scum that forms on the top
    • Let the stock simmer for about 3-6 hours. Don't go past 6 hours, the stock can get cloudy.
    • Strain it by running it through a fine mesh strainer. You'll get a clearer broth
    • Let it sit, scrape off top layer of fat 
    • Chill or freeze immediately 
    All in all, while a little time consuming, there's something sort of relaxing about curling up with a giant pot of stock bubbling away and making your whole house (or small Boston apartment in my case) smell delightfully comforting. There's nothing better than homemade. Nothing.


    Meghan@travelwinedine said...

    I love the whole process of making stock, especially after Thanksgiving when I have the turkey carcass and all sorts of veggie odds and ends.

    Deborah Greaves said...

    Thank you for this step by step Katie! I have tried lots of times to make a good stock, with no luck! I'll let you know how this works for me!!

    Meesh said...

    great tips, especially the ice cube tray one! I would have never thought about that.

    Megan said...

    I definitely get intimidated by making stock. The last time I tried to make it without a recipe it came out completely flavorless. I will have to try your tips next time!

    Jen said...

    I feel like all I ever say in comments is "Oh I need to make this or try this or go there". My to-make/try list just keeps growing. I'll add this to the list as well.

    Sara said...

    I absolutely agree! It's one of those things that seems crazy until you do it, and it's not much work at all. I've tried to really make a point of always making my own stock. I've been meaning to really cook it down someday and freeze it as ice cubes of concentrated flavor (to save space in the freezer) but so far not yet. My only dislike in the process is cleaning my mesh strainer afterwards. Why are they so hard to clean?

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