A good stock has flavor, body and clarity, with flavor being the most important. The bones and joints contain gelatin (hydrolyzed collagen) adding body and the meat adds flavor. If you omit the bones and use only meat you will have a broth rather than a stock.
Step 1: Meat Trimmings
Butcher a chicken to obtain bone and meat remains. This will be used to demonstrate making a chicken stock. You can also make turkey, beef, veal, pork, lamb, fish, shrimp, shell fish, seaweed, vegetable, etc. stocks. Leftover bones, or carcases from a turkey roast, or the shells from shrimp make great stocks. For heartier stocks roast the bones and vegetables first.
Step 2: Cover in Water
Cover the meat and bones in cold water. Cold water is one secret of a clear stock.
Step 3: Heat the Water
Slowly bring the water to a boil and use the slightest simmer.
Step 4: Skim
Skim the impurities with a skimmer or slotted spoon. Another secret of a clear stock is to use the slightest simmer while skimming. If the water is allowed to boil the impurities can be incorporated into the liquid.
Step 5: Simmer
Skim the impurities until they no longer accumulate and the stock is at a slow simmer.
Step 6: Cut Vegetables
A traditional mirepoix of carrots, onion and celery is common. Louisiana style might include onion, green pepper and celery. Depending on the cuisine you might add tomato, leaks, mushrooms, garlic, ginger, etc. Herbs are also often added and can be tied into a coffee filter or tea steeper.
Step 7: Add Vegetables and Herbs
Add vegetables and herbs to the stock pot.
Step 8: Simmer Down
Simmer the stock until complete. A raw chicken stock takes about 4 hours and and raw beef bones take about 8 hours to give up all their flavor. Vegetable and fish stocks take about an hour. A stock can be bitter if cooked too long. If the meat is falling off the bones and the meat is flavorless then the stock is done.
Step 9: Strain
Strain the stock with a colander. Use a cloth or coffee filter for more clarity.
Step 10: Refrigerate
Refrigerate the stock after it cools.
Step 11: Skim Fat
When the stock is chilled the fat will rise to the top. Skim this from the stock. The stock will be very gelatinous at this point. This is from the gelatin (hydrolyzed collagen) released from the bones and joints. It will give the stock body.
Step 12: Use or Freeze
The stock is ready to use. It can be used to make soups, sauces, glazes, or clarified to a consomme. It can also be reduced for more flavor, but might lose some of the fresh vegetable flavors.
The stock can be refrigerated for 3-5 days. If not used in this time it can be simmered again or frozen. Freeze in mason jars, tupperware, freezer bags, or ice cube trays.