31 March 2011

Back to Basics ... Chicken Stock

I talked with my Mom today. We commiserated about the weather, the amount of dust that accumulates in a wintertime house, the state of the world, and the rising cost of food. I bragged on this roasted chicken meal that was going to give me the makings for four meals  ... not bad for a six pound bird that cost me a little less than six dollars.

When, I got off the phone, I stripped the chicken from the carcass of the roastie we had for dinner last evening so that I could start a nice chicken broth. Making stock is pretty basic ... and I have a blogging friend, Max, who contacted me, asking about how it's done. I imagine that every cook has their routine, but here's mine.

Lovely roasties ready to knosh ... these from last summer, but I used the same rub on last night's roast.

First, I use a lot of rubs and spices on my roasters, so the stock I make is usually tailored to a specific soup. Yesterday's roast had a cayenne and smoked paprika rub because I have it in mind to make an Armenian meatball soup tomorrow that requires a bit of chicken stock to fortify the soup's broth. I would tell a beginner to think about what they have on their chicken for spices and incorporate the skin and pan drippings into their stock. Then, use the stock to create a soup that is enhanced by those spices. Got it, Max?

Okay, so I whack the carcass into smaller pieces and hammer some of the bigger bones to release the marrow. I throw the carcass and the pan drippings from the roast into a deep stockpot. I chop up and add a couple carrots, a couple stalks of celery, a medium onion, a bay leaf, a few peppercorns, and a handful of parsley to the chicken remains. Any major meat that I've removed from the carcass gets wrapped and refrigerated for later use.

No, making stock is not a sexy affair ...

I cover the whole mess with cold water (about eight cups) and two heaping teaspoons of  Better than Bouillon Chicken Broth paste ( a shameless plug for a good product).

This is the stuff that helps the stock gain body ... reduced sodium and no MSG.

I bring the pot to a slow boil, reduce the heat to low and put the pan on a diffusion plate (I have a gas cook top, so simmering is a delicate affair) and I leave it covered to simmer for a couple hours.

This is where you see all those spices working their way into the stock ...

Then, I turn off the heat and leave it for another couple hours to cool down. Late in the day, I will strain it and toss the mushy bones and veg in the trash.

Please make sure you put a large enough pan under the sieve to receive the stock. I won't tell you how pissed I was one time when I spaced ...

This is where the dogs come into play. They love the little bits of meat that I give them from this mush ...

I'll let the stock sit so that the fat rises to form a skim layer. I get it cold to coagulate the fat and then I remove most of the fat. 

Ah yes, the sheen of chicken fat ... there must be a quarter inch floating on the surface  ... much of it must go.

The little lumps of impurities in the fat begin to firm up, as the stock chills ... puts me in mind of an old gym class exercise song about getting rid of chicken fat ... hit that link if you're up for some major nostalgia ...

Cheap me ... an old clean dishcloth doubles for cheesecloth ...

Once I've skimmed the fat off, I reheat the broth, add salt to taste, and pass the warm broth through a sieve lined with cheesecloth (or an old clean kitchen towel that I can throw away) to catch small bits of whatever.

It really does filter quite a bit of stuff out to make a purer stock ...

Voila, I have a pretty, pure chicken stock that has the spicy flavors from the roast infused right into it. Now, I am ready to use it in any way I wish.

Measured stock ready for my soup recipe ... the rest is in a larger jar and on its way to the freezer.

I can place it in Mason jars and freeze it if I don't want to use it right a way or I can make soup or gravy or a sauce! Oh, the possibilities!

Soooooo ..... I leave you with a question. What do YOU do to make your basic chicken stock special ? Post your comment and let's help Max get some ideas .

I'm using this stock to make an Armenian Meatball soup that I found on Victoria's blog, Mission: Food - I can hardly wait to have it with some flatbreads for dunking!


  1. What a wonderful descriptive post. I have never heard of Bouillon Chicken Broth paste.Hoping they sell this in Canada, I will surely look for it. Your recipe for making stock is similar to mine, but I chicken powder..no MSG. And like you I alwasy get more that one meal after we enjoyed roast chicken. Really enjoyed this with all your photos.

  2. Hey! Thanks! This is just what I needed - easy to follow! I'm going to put that lemon in the chicken and use easy spices - my mom calls them Thanksgiving spices. Then I can make chicken and rice soup ... right?

  3. its always a faff but well worth it... I do pretty much the same but dont bash the bones, which is such a great idea!... also, never bother with the cheese cloth, just put it in the fridge to totally chill and then spoon it off!

  4. @ Max - You sure can, Max! I bet it will be stellar! Not too much rice though! Remember it really swells up and absorbs the broth, so plan for that! Let me know how it comes out!

  5. What a great post! I need to remember to do this when I buy my next rotisserie or whole chicken...I don't roast a lot of chickens so it will prob be rotisserie.


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