Basic Chicken Stock

Homemade chicken stock is an absolutely essential ingredient to have on hand at all times.  Period.  The difference between this simple stock and the store-bought stuff is astronomical.  Here you control the amount of salt, the subtle background flavors and the amount of chicken essence you inbue into the stock.  All it takes is a chicken carcass (or even just a neck and wings) and pretty much whatever other savory items you may have in the refrigerator.  Here’s a good general guideline that I’ve based on the reliable recipe from Craig Claiborne that I’ve used for years.  First, roast a fine plump chicken, pick the meat off the bones and store the meat for later.  Take the carcass and break into a couple of pieces so that it will fit into a large stock pot.  Add about 4 quarts of water, a halved onion studded with 4 cloves, a couple of peeled garlic cloves, some whole allspice berries, black pepper corns, 1 halved tomato, 2 chopped leeks, a chopped celery stalk, a peeled, choppped carrot, a handful of parsley, and a couple of bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 3 hours.  Carefully strain the stock into saucepans, discarding solids, and continue simmering the stock for another couple of hours.  Cool and freeze in 2 cup increments in freezer bags.  By the way, the stock in the picture could be chicken or something else entirely.  I saw it bubbling away in a store front in Paris and thought it looks so rich and delicious!

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