My chicken stock is a strong, golden brown broth that is very different from the blond supermarket variety. Stock is the magic ingredient that makes good restaurant food taste geometrically better than home cooking. Restaurants always have giant pots of beef and chicken stock slowly bubbling on the back of the stove. Homemade stocks give a huge flavor boost to foods, and also allow you to recycle a lot of vegetable and meat trimmings that would otherwise go to waste.
If you are lucky enough to have the freezer storage space and a large 4-5 gallon stock pot, use the ingredients list below. Otherwise, you might cut the recipe in half. Or, you could do a homemade chicken soup for dinner on “stock day,” and just freeze the leftovers. I collect and freeze bits of meat scraps and veggie trimmings for a few weeks at a time, and take everything out and dump it into the stock pot.
Don’t spice your stock. Remember, you’re making stock here, not a finished chicken soup. For maximum flexibility in how you can use your stock, never add salt, pepper, herbs, or any other spice to a basic chicken stock. For example, the lack of salt and herbs allows you to easily reduce a stock into a concentrated sauce. If you tried reducing a salted stock the resulting concentration would be inedibly salty. Salt, pepper, fresh herbs, and garlic are all ingredients that produce their flavors almost instantly, and are better saved until the later stages of cooking.
Makes: 12-14 quarts of chicken stock
Time: About 10 hours, largely unattended
Ingredients & tools
- 1 4-to-5 gallon stock pot
- 2 greased cookie sheets with raised edges, or the area in roasting pans
- 8.5 pounds of chicken parts
- 3 large onions
- 1 large head of celery
- 32 ounces of baby carrots
- Pam or other spray cooking oil
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Rough-chop onions and celery into large chunks. Reserve the green leafy celery tops
- Spread the ingredients onto oiled cookie sheets
- Spray everything with Pam cooking oil to prevent scorching
- Bake for 1.5 hours at 350°F, until chicken is browned
- Transfer the chicken and vegetables to the stock pot, add the reserved celery greens
- Scrape all browning and drippings from the cookie sheets and add them into the stock pot
- Fill the stock pot with water, until the surface is about 2 inches from the top
- Bring the pot to an active boil
- Turn the heat down to minimum and cook for 8-10 hours. Try to hold the stock just barely at boiling temperature, where it occasionally produces a bubble, not a rolling boil.
- Filter the stock through cheesecloth
- Freeze in quart and pint containers