Fundamental Recipes — Chicken Stock

Just like with our beef stock recipe, we will be using our chicken stock a lot when we are trying out different cuisines.  This chicken stock recipe is easy, economical, and most importantly is far better than anything you can buy.  If you want to see instant improvement in your soups, sauces, mashed potatoes, or rice pilaf, learn to make your own homemade chicken stock.

Homemade Chicken Stock

MAKES 2 1/2 – 3 QUARTS

  • Bones and wings from 3 cut-up whole fryer chickens (for more information, check out Lifehacker’s tutorial on cutting up a chicken)
  • 13 cups water
  • 2 carrots, 5 stalks celery, 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed (peeling is optional)
  • 1 Tbs whole peppercorns
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 Tbs dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves

An astute reader might notice that we used more onion and celery and added garlic for this stock compared to the beef stock.  This was done simply to use up the last of our supply on hand.  Like with most recipes, please adjust quantities as you see fit.

So-called “white stocks” like chicken stock are a bit simpler to prepare than our brown beef stock.  No roasting or browning of any kind is needed, and in fact might even be detrimental to the finished product since chicken gives the stock a much subtler flavor than beef would.  As a result, the first step was to put the bones and water straight into the stockpot and turn it on to about medium:


While the pot was coming to a simmer, the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic were prepped and put into an attractive bowl:


At this point, if you are concerned about bacterial contamination the vegetables can be put into the refrigerator to stay cold.  We weren’t that concerned so they stayed on the counter nearby.

At this point the stock was simmering so we turned it down to low and left it uncovered.  Again like with the beef stock, it is a good idea to skim out as much scum as possible and to continue doing so until it seems like no more scum is being sloughed off the bones and into the stock.  After about an hour and a half of scooping out crud every few minutes like this:


…the scum finally subsided and we were ready to add the rest of the ingredients.  Side note: It is a good idea to occasionally give the stock a vigorous stir while skimming; we find this helps dislodge some of the clingier clumps of scum off the bones and into the skimmer.

With the scum situation under control and all the ingredients in the pot:


…pretty much all the hard work was finished.  The stock was left uncovered to simmer another five hours or so, which you might recall is much longer than we simmered the beef stock.  We wanted to save some of the meat from the short ribs used in that stock and didn’t want to overcook too much of the flavor out of them.  With chicken, we don’t care about trying to salvage the meat off of the necks and back so a longer simmer is used, which allows for more flavor to be leached into the stock in the end.  Plus, it doesn’t take any extra work at all; we simply allow it to simmer longer for best results.

After the stock had been bubbling for most of the afternoon and early evening, we were ready to get it packed away and cleaned up.  It was scooped, strained, and packed hot into jars just like the beef stock.


Chicken stock is ridiculously easy to make and most of the parts are virtually free if you cut up chickens at home.  If this was an episode of How It’s Made we’d end with a pun.  Something like “Now your kitchen can be well-stocked… with chicken stock.”


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