Chicken Stock – make your own – it’s easy and it tastes great!
The basis for any really good soup or sauce is often a simple stock. So what is stock? Well, to me.. and I only make chicken stock, it’s the flavoured liquid that you get after cooking the bones and leftover of a chicken (or a turkey) to use to make a soup or sauce. (edited to add: I apparently had forgotten that I also make ham stock…. hmm, another post for another day).
There’s a lot of confusion about ‘bone broth’ and stock. To me they are the same thing. I think bone broth is a more recent term and was made popular with folks who did the paleo thing.
Start with a good base for your stock
When I make chicken or turkey broth I put all of the bones, skin and cartilage bits into a large pot and cover with water. Don’t hesitate to add the skin and the fat, it’s will all come out later. Generally I don’t usually add any veggies, but that’s always an option. I prefer the neutral poultry taste that is not influenced by onions or carrots or anything else.
If your roasting pan is metal and can be used on the stove top, just add all the bones and bits back into that and cook your stock in that. I often do a whole chicken in a large oval cast iron roasting pan which makes this nice and easy.
I bring the pot to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Depending on the size of the pot, this is for around two to four hours. Many references will tell you to skim the stock every 20 minutes or so to remove fat. I don’t do this. I have an easier approach.
Going for the gold
Once the stock has cooked, I remove all of the bones and bits. I scoop them out first with a ‘spider’ type tool, then I pour the stock through a fine sieve. I pour the stock into glass measuring jugs and then after it has cooled, put them in the fridge. You should have a pale gold broth that will be ready to use the next day.
The next day is where the fat removal process comes in. Your stock will have separated and there will be a layer of fat on the top. This happens right away, but after a night in the fridge, this fat is solid. Scrape this off with a sharp-edged metal spoon and discard. I imagine there are some uses for this poultry fat, but I’ve never done that to date.
A nice clean taste
It’s really important to do this ‘de-fatting’ process. Otherwise whatever you make is going to taste oily. I had someone tell me once that their kids did not like the chicken noodle soup they made. Refused to eat it in fact! I asked her if she de-fatted the stock, the answer was no … and there’s the result.
If you had a lot of meat still left on the bones, you will want to discard that. There is no flavour left now and the meat will be stringy. Try to not leave too much. Stripping down the chicken or turkey carcass is not fun, but to get the most out of your poultry purchase, do this as soon as possible after serving the bird as a meal.
Ready for many uses
Leaving some meat attached (mostly the gnarly stuff you don’t want to eat) will give you a stock rich in gelatine which will make a wonderful soup. When cool, the stock will have a jelly like consistency that will turn liquid as soon as it’s heated.
Go ahead, make some chicken stock. You’ll be glad you did. If you’re not using it right away, put it in a freezer-safe container, label it well and pop in the freezer. This stuff thaws very quickly.
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