Remember when I made a chicken and didn’t die of salmonella? Well, I saved the carcass in the freezer in a gallon bag marked (how else?) Chicken Carcass, followed by the date. When it fell out on my toe last time I opened the freezer, I knew the time had come to make chicken stock. It is one of the best money-saving things around, and makes the house smell great while it’s cooking. Winner, winner, chicken (soup) dinner.
I save the skin, any bits of meat that weren’t consumed, and all of the bones to put in my stock. You can go with just the bones, but in that case I would suggest saving the bones of two or three chickens to make a richer broth.
Basically, there is no wrong way to make chicken stock. You’re boiling down the parts you weren’t going to use in order to flavor water that will then become the base for all the awesome things that you can do with chicken stock. Any recipe you use homemade stock in instead of the stuff from a can will both be cheaper and better tasting, guaranteed.
Basic Chicken Stock
- Chicken parts/bones
- 3-4 bay leaves
- Carrots, celery and onions (roughly chopped)
Put the chicken parts, vegetables (the veggies can be past their prime) and bay leaves in a large pot (mine holds 5 quarts). Fill the rest of the pot with water, leaving at least an inch at the top so it doesn’t boil over. Bring the pot to a rolling boil for a few minutes, then turn the heat down to low and allow the pot to simmer for several hours. Strain the chicken parts and vegetables out with a slotted spoon, or pour through a strainer or cheesecloth. Allow the stock to cool slightly, then refrigerate for immediate use or freeze for the future. Soups! Casseroles! Endless possibilities, and almost no effort.
A note: fat will congeal on the top of cold stock. If you want, you can strain it off and discard it.