Sunday, November 22, 2009
Homemade Chicken Stock
Homemade Chicken Stock
Making your own Chicken Stock is very easy, and the final product will be much better than any store bought option. Chicken Stock can be stored for weeks in the refrigerator, or for months in the freezer. Chicken stock can be used instead of water when making rice to add some flavor, or used in nearly any recipe with a pan sauce. Having Chicken Stock on hand will open up many more recipes for you to try.
Chicken Bones, whatever you have (Fat Trimmed)
3 Celery Stalks (Roughly Chopped)
2 Carrots (Roughly Chopped)
1 Yellow Onion (Roughly Chopped)
2 Thyme Sprigs
3 Parsley Sprigs, including stems
1 Bay Leaf
5 Whole Peppercorn
2 Whole Cloves
Chicken stock is made up of 3 basic parts; Chicken Bones, a Mirepoix, and a Bouquet Garni. While there are a few secrets to make a lower fat stock that is rich in flavor, it is more important to realize that making a stock is easy. If your vegetables are not the freshest, it isn't a big deal. If your vegetables are not cut exactly the same size, it isn't a big deal. If you don't remove all the fat from your chicken bones, it isn't the end of the world. If you simmer your stock for too long, it won't matter much at all.
Start by prepping your Chicken Bones. You can use bones with meat still on them, but it is important to remove as much skin and fat as possible. If I know that I have to make Chicken Stock, I will usually buy Chicken Breasts on the bone instead of boneless skinless Chicken, and grill it up for a quick meal. You can use Breasts, legs, wings, and even the necks, but I suggest removing the skin and fat before you start making the stock. For this recipe, I only had 1 Chicken Breast, but my stock came out just fine.
Once your bones are trimmed, put them in a large stock pot and cover the bones with cold water. Cooking Tip: When cooking with raw Chicken be very careful to keep your working area sanitary. Make sure to wash your counter top, cutting board, knives and your hands once you are done with the raw Chicken, and be mindful of what you may have touched after touching raw Chicken.
If you are making stock, you might as well make as much as you can, so use the biggest pot you have. Turn the burner on high until the water starts to simmer. As soon as the water comes to a simmer, remove the Chicken Bones from the heat, strain the bones, and rinse them with cold water. You may notice that the water turned a milky white color, this is mainly fat and we want to keep it out of our stock.
While the water is heating up, we will have time to prep our Mirepoix and Bouquet Garni. Mirepoix is a french term referring to a combination of celery, carrots, and onion. Don't worry about measuring your Miropoix, just use about equal parts of each ingredient and cut them in roughly the same size so they give off flavor at the same rate. As a rule of thumb I would say the Mirepoix should fill up the stock pot as high as the Chicken Bones. It is not important for the Miropoix to be pretty, but it should be clean. Make sure to peal your Onion, and Carrots, and to wash the Celery before chopping them.
After chopping the Mirepoix, we can move onto the Bouquet Garni. Bouquet Garni, is a french term that refers to a bunch of herbs; normally a few Thyme Sprigs, Parsley Stems, a Bay Leaf, and Whole Peppercorns. When making a stock I add some Whole Cloves because they add a nice flavor and aroma to the stock. If you don't have Whole Cloves, it isn't a big deal. Typically a Bouquet Garni would be wrapped in some cheesecloth and tied together with some twine, but since we will be straining our stock when we are finished, there is no need to do wrap up our Bouquet Garni.
Once you have rinsed the Chicken Bones, put them back into the stock pot, along with the Mirepoix and Bouquet Garni. Fill the stock pot with enough water to cover the entire mixture by at least an inch, and heat it to a simmer. Cooking Tip: Never boil a stock. Boiling the water breaks up the fat particles in the Chicken and will cloud the stock. Of course if your water is boiling, it isn't then end of the world, just turn down the heat to a simmer. Continue to simmer the stock for 3 hours. That is pretty much it. The only additional step is to skim the fat off the top of the stock every 30 minutes or so. However since we did such a good job of trimming the fat from our bones, and brought our bones to a simmer and rinsed them, most of the fat has already been removed. There will still be some fat that rises to the top of the stock, and you might as well skim it with a spoon.
Most of the fat will come to the top in the first 15 minutes or so, so I don't want you to think that you will have to watch over your stockpot for 3 hours. Once your stock simmering, most of your work is done. After 3 hours or so, most of the flavor will be drawn out of the Chicken Bones, Mirepoix, and Bouquet Garni.
There is no real cooking time for a stock. If you have only 2 hours, that's fine. If you forget to take it off the stove for 4 hours, that's fine. Once you remove the stock from the heat, strain the stock into freezer proof storage containers. I suggest splitting the stock into 3 or more containers so you can keep one container in the refrigerator and keep the rest in the freezer until you are ready to use them.
It is also important to cool the stock as quickly as possible so bacteria doesn't have a chance to form. Once you are done, you will have a beautiful amber colored stock that has much more flavor than anything you can buy in the store. Enjoy!