Chicken Stock is the foundation for building many recipes. This classic preparation yields a clean fresh stock you’ll never get from a box or can.
Hundreds of recipes use Chicken Stock for their foundations and flavoring. Soups and stews and braises. Rice and pasta and grains. Gravy and sauces and glazes. These are only a few items that require or benefit from great stock. With stock being such an important foundation in cooking, we should sometimes make an effort to avoid the shelf stabilized offerings from the grocery stores. Once you make a really good stock from scratch, you’ll be blown away with how incredible it is.
There’s grocery store stock, easy homemade stock, and classic French cuisine stock. Easy homemade stock is a simple matter of tossing a bunch of celery, carrots, onion, and leftover chicken parts in a pot, covering it with water and simmering for an hour or so. It’s better than the boxed stuff but I’d call this more of a broth. It’s a relatively easy method to quickly extract a lot of flavor – like making tea.
The classic French cuisine stock, ala Escoffier, is something a little different. A great stock should contain a lot of gelatin, be clear of particulates, void of any fat or oil, and flavorful but not overly so.
In this case, we’re making a white stock. A white stock uses raw chicken bones. A brown stock, on the other hand, may use beef or veal bones in addition to the chicken and the bones would first be roasted.
Chicken wings and backbone are the best parts of the chicken to contribute lots of gelatin to the stock. You want whole wings here, not the stuff sold as ‘buffalo wings’. The wing tips, in particular, are high in gelatin. Gelatin gives your stock body.
To reduce the particulates, and the fat and oil in the stock, I like to blanch the chicken first. Toss all the chicken parts in your stock pot and cover them with water. Bring to a boil then drain and thoroughly rinse the chicken under cold water. Dumping out all the water and rinsing the chicken real good is going to avoid a lot of floating scum and particulates. This is all in an effort to make the cleanest, clearest stock we can. Bonus points for removing all the skin, too!
Add the chicken back to the pot and cover with 16 cups of water. Heat the pot over medium-low heat and maintain a temperature between 180-190°F. A temperature probe with high and low temp alarms is great for this. If you don’t have a thermometer, just make sure the water never comes to a simmer. This is a low and slow three-hour process to extract vitamins and minerals from the chicken bones.
The classic mirepoix for chicken stock is two parts onion, one part celery, and one part carrot. Peel and cut the onions in half and chop the washed celery and peeled carrots into chunks. Bouquet garni is a French culinary term used to describe a little bundle of herbs. The bouquet garni for this stock is made of leek, celery leaves, thyme, parsley stalks, and bay leaf. Bundle them together and tie them up with a little string. If you have whole clove in your spice draw you can poke a few into the onions. Continue to simmer the stock for one hour more after adding the vegetables.
After four hours of very low simmering, use tongs to gently remove all the solids from the stock pot. They’ve given all they have to offer so you can simply discard them. Kitchen tip: I place this sort of waste in a plastic shopping bag then store it in the freezer until trash day. This prevents a stinky garbage can. Once you’ve removed as much of the solids as possible, strain the stock into a large bowl or heatproof container. Refrigerate immediately then freeze one quart portions in freezer-proof ziptop bags.
This method for making a classic French stock requires a lot more time and money than buying a few boxes of the stuff off your grocer’s shelf. At some point though, I hope you’ll set some time and money aside to make this. It’s truly remarkable how clean and fresh a properly prepared chicken stock can be. I’m excited to start creating dishes with the many gallons I’ve made while researching this recipe! #ChickenStockMarket