If you look at the back of most packaged goods, the ingredient list reads like a science experiment. When it comes to chicken stock, you’ll find things like turmeric (for the faux color), msg, powdered spices, chicken “flavor”, and other questionable things. We have been using a decent organic packaged stock for years – not by choice, but because we felt that it was the only option. How realistic is it to always have homemade stock on hand? And does it really make a difference?
Whenever a TV personality would say, “I use homemade stock, but you can use whatever (crap) you have on hand”, it just felt so out of reach.. Condescending almost. I mean, I live in New York, people don’t make homemade frikkin’ stock and have it on hand….. but I’ll make your stupid recipe but it won’t be as good because you told me yours had homemade stock and mine came from a cardboard box.
But that was yesterday. On most lazy Sundays, there’s always something bubbling away either on the stovetop in the form of Sunday Gravy, or stewing away in the oven. So on lazy Oscar day I thought – today is THE day. Today I will make stock, and it will change my life. Finally.
And it did.
Surprisingly economical, simple, and easy to make, you don’t need to make a huge stock pot batch, but it’s actually worth making a larger batch and freezing some for later. Damn you TV chefs…. they were all right. It really is THAT simple, and really DOES make all the difference.
Fine mesh sieve
One 2-3 pound organic whole chicken (or a mix of wings / legs / thighs/ breast to equal a whole chicken).
2 medium size onions, quartered (unpeeled)
4 carrots, cut into large pieces (unpeeled)
4 ribs of celery cut into large pieces
2 medium sized parsnips, cut into large pieces
10 sprigs of fresh parsley
10 sprigs of fresh thyme
10 sprigs of fresh dill
1 whole bulb of garlic – cut in half horizontally
2 tblspn black peppercorns
2 tspn kosher salt
1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil
roughly 4 quarts of cold tap water (enough to cover everything in the pot)
1). Heat olive oil in the stock pot over medium high heat. If the chicken is whole, cut the wings and legs off. Sear the wings and legs in the oil until browned, 5 minutes.
2). Add the cut up vegetables to the pot, and let brown along with the few chicken pieces, 3 minutes.
3). Add the other pieces of chicken, herbs, salt, peppercorns.
4). Pour enough cold tap water into the pot so that everything is just submerged.
5). Bring to boil, and then reduce heat to low simmer.
6). Simmer for roughly 2.5 hours. During this time have a small bowl and spoon handy to skim off all of the foam. Skim every 15 minutes or so. This will ensure a clear broth.
7). Towards the end, you will be able to taste and see if it needs more time to develop, or if it is ready to be strained.
8). Using a large ladle and fine mesh sieve, gently strain the stock in batches into a large bowl.
9). Divide the clear stock into freezer ready containers, and label.
10).Cool before storing in fridge or freezer. (Any remaining fat will rise to the top when cooled, and if it’s a lot you can scrap it off while cold.)
The stock will keep in the fridge for 1 week, or freeze for up to 6 months. The basic premise behind most recipes are the same, but you can experiment between the chicken (some use more chickens) and vegetable ratio, to brown or not to brown, and other variations for a desired result. An even more economical version would be to use the leftover carcasses from a roast chicken.
This resulting stock was rich with the essence of chicken, and hints of fresh herbs. Since I am partial to dill, I added a few extra springs to my stock and it was a magical result. The process of homemade stock was a life altering experience. And for sure worth a few hours of patience during any lazy afternoon.
Paired with light pork (or chicken) meatballs for this soup, the end result was a symphony of flavors. (Variation here was with pork meatballs, kale, shiitake mushrooms). For company, serve with baguette toasts with melted gruyere.