Rich Homemade Chicken Stock may seems like a slightly yawn-inducing recipe, but before you click away, hear me out. It’s true, chicken stock is one of the simplest and most basic things you can make. But I am here to tell you, IT IS NOT BORING.
I have strong feelings about chicken stock.
Stock is the basis of so many great recipes: soups, sauces, risotto, even plain rice and other grains. And while it’s certainly convenient to use the canned or boxed stuff from the grocery store – I am not above stocking a few cans for emergencies – even the best commercial brands are watered down, use sub-par ingredients, and packed with sodium. Believe me, you’ll definitely notice the difference in your recipes when using the real deal. It’s like eating gelato from an Italian mom-and-pop stand versus soy milk frozen yogurt from Safeway. And I’m not just talking flavor. Homemade stock has an almost velvety texture that comes through in every dish you use it in.
Contrary to popular myth, it’s not difficult to make. I’m not gonna lie; it is a little messy. But find yourself a helper to deal with all the solids at the end and it’s not so bad. I promise it’s worth it. And anyway, it’s January. What better time to stock your freezer with a kitchen staple you can use all year long?
You’ll need a big pot (mine is this 16-quart stockpot from Costco which fits everything in this recipe perfectly and yields about 7 quarts of stock). Then all you need to do is plop in a couple of whole chickens, a bunch of very roughly chopped veggies and herbs, and a handful of spices, then cover it all with water and step back to let it do its thing for like, four hours while you fold laundry or shovel snow or watch season two of Stranger Things (have you seen this series?! If you’re a fellow child of the 80’s, you must check it out). Make sure you let it gently simmer rather than boil violently the whole time; if it boils too hard, you’ll end up with a cloudy stock rather than a lovely clean clear-ish one.
You can remove the fat a couple of ways: you can use a traditional liquid fat separator (this one comes highly recommended), but I am generally too lazy to separate all my stock quart-by-quart, so I simply refrigerate it overnight (ok, if I’m being honest, I just set the whole pot outside on my freezing-cold deck), and then in the morning just skim all the congealed fat off the top with a spoon. Easy. Just don’t forget that it’s on your deck for three days like … a friend of mine did.
When I first started making this stock, I noticed something I thought was weird. Once it cools, it has a somewhat thick, gelatinous texture (you can sort of see this in the photo above – see how it’s coating the ladle?). At first, this completely grossed me out (chicken jello, ewww!), but I was intrigued enough to Google. And it turns out, all it meant was I’d hit chicken stock gold, baby, gold! This consistency indicates that the stock has rendered the collagen from the chicken bones, infusing the stock with a full-bodied texture and deep, rich flavor (again with the gelato comparison). And not to worry – it liquifies as soon as it’s heated.
I store my finished stock in quart containers I buy on Amazon. It’s lovely to open up the freezer to see all that goodness just waiting to be used.
As an aside, a steaming hot cup of this is just what you want when you have a nasty chest cold or the flu. As my half-Jewish mate is fond of saying, chicken soup ain’t called Jewish penicillin for nothin’. It really does help you feel better.
I just got my flu shot this morning, but I’ve got plenty of this goodness on hand. Just in case.
Rich Chicken Stock
This fabulously flavorful, velvety chicken stock isn’t just good for what ails you – it’s the perfect next-level flavor booster for your soups, sauces, grains, and risotto.
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 4-5 hours
- Total Time: 5 hours
- Yield: 7 quarts
- Category: soups, clean eating
2 five-pound whole raw chickens, giblets removed
2 medium onions (unpeeled), quartered
4 medium carrots, cut in 4 pieces each
4 stalks celery, cut in 4 pieces each
1 large parsnip, cut in large chunks
large handful (about one cup) fresh parsley sprigs, stems and leaves
large handful (about one cup) fresh dill sprigs, stems and leaves
15 or so sprigs (one small package) fresh thyme sprigs, stems and leaves
1 entire head of garlic, cut crosswise
2 TB salt
1 tsp whole peppercorns
In a large (16 quart or bigger) stock pot, place the chickens, onions, carrots, celery, parsnips, fresh herbs, and garlic halves. Add water until all ingredients are covered by about 1 inch.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 4-5 hours. Drain liquid into a separate pot, reserving cooked chicken for another use, and discard remaining solids.
Cool before separating fat in a liquid separator, or refrigerate stock overnight and skim the congealed fat from the top. Don’t be alarmed if cooled stock is gelatinous – that’s a good thing!
Store in plastic or glass containers in fridge for up to a week or freezer for up to six months.
… Don’t skimp on the herbs or seasonings here. They add TONS of flavor.
… This recipe can be customized with other vegetables of your choice, but avoid strong-tasting ones such as peppers or broccoli, which can overwhelm other flavors in the stock.