There are a lot of reasons to make your own chicken stock. Maybe you’re a cheapskate, or maybe you prefer the taste of homemade stock to the canned stuff. Perhaps you simply enjoy tinkering in the kitchen and making a mess. Why do I make my own stock? For one, I can’t stand the idea of throwing away perfectly good leftover chicken parts. There’s a lot of flavor lurking in a roast chicken carcass, and I feel like it’s worth the effort to coax it out.
” Use it straight up for full frontal chicken intensity “
Technically “broth” is made using meat and “stock” is made using bones, but I’ve always used the word “stock” because it makes me sound more like I know what I’m talking about… which may or may not be true. There are quite a lot of different ways to make this stuff, but this is the recipe I like best. It’s dead easy and it turns out great-tasting results.
You can use stock for an extra flavor boost when making rice, and it’s great for steaming vegetables. Stock is perfect for deglazing pans, making all manner of gravies and sauces, and of course it’s a core ingredient of soup. Polenta made with chicken stock is miles better than its boring water-based cousin. The list goes on and on. Intrigued? Good, let’s start cooking.
- 1 or 2 chicken carcasses (or a bunch of leftover parts), lightly killed
- 2 carrots
- 2 celery ribs
- 1 medium onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- a few sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)
Ok, first step. Go to the store, buy a rotisserie chicken, eat it, and save the bones, skin, and other unpleasant parts. Do this twice. You should now have more or less the requisite amount of carcass bits to move forward with this recipe. If you like to roast your own chickens, and you really should, this first step will be even easier. At the risk of stating the obvious, all of your chicken should already be cooked. Also, do not – I repeat, do NOT – use giblets when making chicken stock. You know those nasty little bags of bird guts that are stuffed inside whole, raw chickens? Those are giblets. I’m sure there’s someone out there that enjoys the flavor of boiled organs, but it’s not me. Save yourself from the horror and shame of accidentally making liver soup and skip the giblets.
Hot Tip: Keep a couple of gallon ziplock bags in your freezer – one for chicken carcasses and one for veggies. Save all those carrot tops, celery ends, and unused onion layers and stick them in the freezer instead of throwing them away; do the same with various chicken parts. Not only will you waste less food, but you’ll always have stock-making supplies on hand.
The next step is pretty easy. Take all of the ingredients listed above, frozen or otherwise, and throw them into your slow cooker. If you have a smaller slow cooker and don’t think everything will fit, just halve the recipe. There’s no particular need to cut up the vegetables, but if you prefer you can give everything a coarse chop before tossing it in. You should ideally have enough chicken parts to fill your slow cooker completely. Fill with water up to about 1″ below the rim of the cooker, put the lid on, set it to ‘low’, and leave it alone for 24 hours. If you’re in a hurry, you can cook it on ‘high’ for 12 hours instead.
Your stock is all done and it should smell of delicious chickeny goodness. Now, in whatever way seems best to you, separate the bones and other remaining solid stuff from the liquids. I like to dump the whole mess into a large, fine-mesh metal strainer and catch the liquid in a large bowl, but you can also use a slotted spoon or collander or whatever you have handy. Throw away the solids, step back, and admire the deep, rich color of the homemade chicken stock that has magically appeared in your kitchen.
Now it’s time to store all that dandy chicken tea you’ve just brewed up. There are a number of different ways to tackle this, but my favorite method is to pour 2-cup portions of the stock into quart freezer bags and freeze them while laying flat. Once frozen, they will stack neatly on a freezer shelf, ready for use. For convenience, I also like to fill a couple of ice cube trays. One frozen cube of stock is exactly 2 tbsp; it’s quick, neat, and easy to measure out exactly what you want when the need arises.
And that’s it! You’ll find that your scratch made stock is 3.7 times chicken-y-ier than store-bought.* You can use it straight up for full frontal chicken intensity, or cut it 1:1 with water to bring it down to the level of stock mere mortals are accustomed to. Go ahead and pat yourself on the back, enjoy a tasty beverage, and brag to your friends about how awesome you are.
*Measurements of chicken intensity are approximate and intended only to serve as a vague reference point to lend credibility to this blog post. There is also no scientifically proven method to debunk the aforementioned chicken intensity claims, so if you were thinking of doing so, I say to you: Neener neener.
Standard Recipe Disclaimer
I don’t come up with a lot of my own recipes (unless you count my own personal milk-to-Grape-Nuts ratio), and chances are the recipe posted above belongs to or was inspired by a person other than me. So if you’re wondering whether or not I ripped somebody off, I probably did. Don’t get out the pitchforks and torches just yet though! I want to make absolutely sure I give credit where it’s due, so if you think someone deserves recognition for something that I haven’t already called out FOR CRYING OUT LOUD LET ME KNOW. Thanks, I appreciate it. Here’s a cookie.