Chicken Stock

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Chicken and Veggies for Stock

Cooked Veggies in Chicken Stock

Chilled Chicken Stock with Layer of Fat

Chilled Chicken Stock Skimmed of Fat

I have always been intimidated by making chicken stock (and chicken broth).  After finally making it, however, I have realized how approachable it really is.  There are many subtleties to making a good stock and I know I still have lots to learn by trial and error, but at its basic level, it is a simple process. 

Chicken stock is made from the carcass and bones of the chicken while chicken broth is made from the meat of the chicken.  The bones give stock its body while the meat gives broth its flavor.  That is why chicken stock has more of a gelatinous texture and chicken broth is a thinner liquid.

I like the fact that you can experiment with the flavor of your stock by adjusting the mix (and quantity) of vegetables and seasonings.  I recently made a jalapeño chicken stock which was a great addition to chili and Spanish rice.  The recipe below reflects my experiments with flavoring the stock after referencing family recipes and several classic cookbooks (such as The All New All Purpose Joy Of Cooking).   

A tip I learned from my mom is that you can freeze the chicken carcass in a sealed bag until you have time to make the stock.


The carcass of one chicken

1 -1 1/2 onions, quartered (I used a mix of white, yellow and red onions because I had them left over from the day before)

2 carrots, sliced

2 celery stalks in chunks, including the leafy heads of the stalks

1 Tbsp parsley sprigs

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp bay leaves

1/2 tsp thyme

6 cups cold water (or enough to just cover the carcass and the vegetables)

Put the chicken carcass and the vegetables in a large pot.  Cover with cold water.  (For the above quantities, I used roughly 6 cups of water.)  Heat on high until the mixture begins to simmer.  Then reduce the heat and let simmer for four hours or until the veggies have lost their flavor. 

While it is simmering, periodically skim the stock to remove any scum that floats to the top of the mixture.

When it is done cooking, pour the contents of the pot through a strainer to separate the stock from the vegetables.  Discard the carcass and veggies.  Let the stock cool and then cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator over night.  Once chilled, skim the layer of fat from the stock.  (The fat will form a layer at the top of the stock and will be easy to scoop out.)

Use in soups, chili, rices and other dishes.  I freeze my stock in 1-2 cup quantities so that it is ready to go when I need it.

Jalapeño Chicken Stock: To make this spicy version, add 2 jalapeño peppers (cut in half, with the seeds) to the stock and let simmer with the rest of the vegetables.

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