Chicken Stock

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Introduction: Chicken Stock

Chicken stock or broth, SO easy to make, is the foundation of countless recipes. Everything from soup to pot pies to curries to chili to casseroles start with chicken stock. For years I bought cans of chicken broth at the grocery store. Then it started coming in foil-lined boxes. Sometimes I just used bouillon cubes. I never questioned the NATURE of chicken stock.

Several years ago my father-in-law taught me how to make my own chicken stock and I've never looked back. For starters, I stopped having headaches every time I made a recipe that called for chicken broth! I also discovered that the homemade version of chicken stock simply has a richer, fuller taste than the store-bought version.

This is really more of a method than a recipe. It fits very generously into the category of "life in the slow lane," because this method takes many hours. It doesn't take a lot of work, but it does take time.

For those of you with vegetarian inclinations or convictions, I'm nearly ready to post an instructable on how to make vegetable stock, so stay tuned.

Step 1: The Case for Homemade Chicken Stock

The most compelling reason for making your own chicken broth can be summed up in one word: SODIUM.

Just for fun, I went out with my 9th grade son to document the sodium content on commercial chicken broth. He was mortified that his mother was standing in the soup aisle, photographing ingredient lists.

I'm glad I went. I really LIKE being able to do things and make things myself. Looking at the nutritional information on the packaging of the chicken broth available in the grocery store convinced me that it's also a really good choice nutritionally.

Here's what I found:

Step 2: Start With Chicken

Some folks actually buy a whole chicken, specifically intending to turn it all into stock. I'm far too cheap for that. I usually wait for a blow-out sale on chicken and stock my freezer. I make a meal out of the chicken and use all the bones, skin, leftover bits of chicken and general chicken detritus. So start by cooking chicken for dinner. For this batch, I just baked the chicken.

Step 3: Save It All

Save everything. Bones, skin, gristle, fat....everything. If you have any leftover bits of vegetables or half an onion just hanging about the fridge, use that too. You might have to rescue the bones of someone else's plate, but it's worth it. And it will be cooked so thoroughly that you needn't worry about germs.

Throw it all into the crockpot and cover it with water.

Step 4: Cook for Hours

I usually set my crockpot on low for 20 hours. I check it periodically to make sure that it has enough water. It's a very bad mess if it cooks dry.

Step 5: Strain Everything

Set up a large container or stock pot. Use a colander or mesh strainer. Line the colander or strainer with cheesecloth or flour-sack towel. I used to buy cheesecloth for this, but cheesecloth really needs to just get dumped after you use it once. So, about a year ago, I bought a set of large white flour-sack towels to use instead of the cheesecloth. I keep the towels stashed separately from my regular kitchen towels and just launder and reuse them.

Step 6:

Pour the chicken and liquid into the strainer. Let it all sit and drip for about 30 minutes. Take up the corners of the towel and twist it to get the remaining broth out of the chicken remains.

Step 7: Pour Stock Into Containers

I try to store the broth in containers of varying size so that I have flexibility in how much I want to use at one time. At this point, I almost always store the stock in the deep freeze. Occasionally I'll fill several quart canning jars with stock and store them in the fridge if I know that I'm going to be using them within a week.

If there are any large pieces of meat left, I usually pick those out and add them to the dogs' next meal. Any meat left doesn't have much flavor left in it because the flavor is all in the thick, beautiful stock.

It really helps to label the stock if you plan to keep a couple of different kinds of homemade stock on hand in your freezer.

I really want to reiterate something important. The process of making homemade chicken broth or stock takes several hours, but it does NOT require a lot of work. Most of the time, the crockpot is doing the heavy lifting. Once this stock is in your freezer, it takes no more time to USE than commercially-prepared stock.

The flavors of this stock are vastly superior to store-bought stock. There is no added sodium. If you're interested in making turkey stock, check out My Sister's Kitchen. The process is similar and the results are delicious.

This homemade stock is a great example of slowing down to eat well.

Enjoy,

Barb

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25 Comments

Do you freeze it in glass containers?

you can use an ice cube maker, to portion it too.

where did my comment go I hit preview and the whole thing that took 20-30 minutes to write, dissappeared?????

Add a tablespoon of acid(lemon juice or vinegar) to the chicken hot tub. It will help extract the nutrients from the bones and cartilage, specifically the minerals. Even healthier!

1100 MILLIGRAMS?? O_O I had no idea! Why would they need to put so much salt in broth? Can't they just let people add their own? No wonder Americans have so many health problems.

A great base, but you are missing onion, carrots and celery (at the minimum).  Making stock is a great time to empty out the crisper drawer of any vegetables that are past their prime. It is also a good way to use carrot peelings and celery ends. Just throw in about 20% as many vegetable as you have bones to round out the flavour. Also consider adding a couple of bay leaves and some peppercorns.

This is awesome!

I slow cooked a chicken (7hrs) to feed my game group yesterday. After I collected the bones and we started game,  I went back over to the crock pot (which had left over veggies from the roast process), poured all the bones + remaining carcass in, and set it for 12 hours and forgot about it for the rest of the night (Best part! Hahaha). I just woke up and strained it,  and now I have *perfect* broth waiting to be canned up :)

Thank you!!!

I love it and have done similar things. We can put our crock pot to good use.

I've been making stock like this for years. After baking a chicken I'll pick off all the meat, reserve it in the fridge, and simmer the carcass, including all the giblets (the bag of organs which come stuffed inside the cavity) on the stovetop for hours... But I just recently read in the NY Times that it's a bad idea to include the giblets. There was no explanation. Does anybody know why? It cooks so long I doubt if it's health reasons, and as to taste, my stocks are delicious... but maybe they'd be even better without them.

Many organs (especially those that make up the endocrine and reproductive systems like the liver and anus) contain alot of hormones. Hormones are chemicals that regulate much of your body's functions and taking extra may affect the hormone balance in your body. For example, steroids are bad because they have a hormone called testosterone which makes humans grow more muscle and body hair. Having too much testosterone has all kind of side effects. I don't know how closely chicken hormones are to humans, or whether the chemicals break down with heat. But it's probably not good to take the chance, right?