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Homemade Chicken and Beef Stock

There are plenty of tutorials out there about making your own homemade chicken stock and beef stock. Everyone flavors theirs differently, but when I posted in my Facebook status on my Amanda’s Cookin’ fan page it prompted a mini conversation about the different ways to store the stock in the freezer. Some asked how I made the beef stock and how much I yielded, so I figured I would go ahead and share it here as well.

Amanda’s Notes:

1) First off, there are a couple different ways to make chicken stock. You can use uncooked chicken pieces, doesn’t matter if it’s wings, legs, or even split breasts, anything will do. You can make what’s called “white chicken stock”, which isn’t really white, and there’s “brown chicken stock”, which involves roasting the chicken and bones a bit first, just like with my beef stock detailed below.

2) Don’t throw away the chicken carcass. After making a roast chicken, use the carcass to make stock. The nice thing about this method is that there’s far less fat to skim off as most of it cooked off in the original roasting.

3) I reduce my stock. It’s optional, I’ve done it both ways, and you certainly don’t have to. However, reducing the stock creates a richer flavor and allows you to control how strong or subtle your end result will be, based on how much water you add to the reduced stock. I’ll explain this below as well.

4) There are several ways to store your stock in the freezer, depending on your personal use. You might want to use only one method, or a combination of methods as I have. Zipper sandwich bags filled with stock, laid flat to freeze, will stack nicely, standing up or lying on top of each other. Ice cube trays offer you the option of grabbing one or two to toss into a simmering soup for a little jolt of flavor. Plastic freezer containers stack nicely as well.

5) Where to get your ingredients. You could simply buy the chicken, grab the vegetables from your veggie bin and begin, or you can collect them in your freezer over time, as I do. Whenever you have chicken or beef for dinner, save the trimmings (the pieces you cut off before cooking) and store them in freezer bags. I keep a freezer bag (in progress) for chicken and another bag for beef pieces. Vegetable trimming should be saved as well, though if they weren’t rinsed before, you will want to rinse them. When you peel carrots, cut the ends off your onions, and trim celery, place all those trimmings into a third freezer bag. Once you have enough meat in your freezer bags, it’s time to make some stock.  Freeze chopped, fresh herbs in ice cube trays with water, these are great for throwing into the stock as well.

6) Beef stock can be made with beef scraps (as noted above) and with beef soup bones, available from your butcher and the grocer’s meat department.

7) You can also make chicken stock in a slow cooker. I don’t use that method, but it certainly can be done.

8) A final note about what to add. I’m giving you some pretty basic ingredients below for both the chicken and the beef stocks. You can adjust these, add to them, change the types (use scallions instead of white onions, toss in garlic or shallots, etc) and make the stock your own. If it’s your first time, you might want to go with the ingredients listed and adjust next time you make it. You can add tomatoes to the roasting pan for beef, add carrots, leeks, etc, stay away from potatoes as they are too starchy and will cloud your stock.

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you read the note section above before making your stock. 

Homemade Chicken Stock 
printable version

Makes approximately 41 ounces of reduced stock (123 ounces of usable stock, a little more than 15 cups = equivalent to about nine 14-oz cans)

about 3 pounds of chicken pieces (wings, legs, thighs, breasts, etc)
1 large onion, cut into quarters
2-3 stalks of celery, cut into 3-4″ pieces
2-3 carrots, cut into 3-4″ pieces
2-3 black peppercorns
2 tablespoons fresh herbs such as parsley or thyme (or cubes if you freeze them like I do)
2 tablespoons chicken base (optional)
water

Rinse the chicken pieces, leave the skins on. Place chicken into a large stock pot. Add all remaining ingredients and fill pot with water, leaving about 2 inches of head space. Bring pot to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Cover pot and reduce heat to low, simmer for 2 hours.

This particular stock is a great way to cook chicken that will be used in dishes such as chicken enchiladas, as the chicken will be of perfect shredding consistency. Once the stock has simmered for two hours, check the chicken meat. If it is beginning to fall off the bone easily, turn off the heat. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken pieces and set aside. Strain the chicken broth through a sieve and discard the solids.

Return the broth to the stock pot and turn the heat to medium. I add 2 tablespoons of chicken base to my stock. Stock purists will argue that this isn’t necessary, and I agree, but the chicken base gives a boost of flavor and eliminates the need for salt. You can skip this step if you like. After adding the chicken base, return the stock to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it starts to boil, turn down just slightly (in between medium-high and medium) and let the stock cook down (reduce) by about 75%. I know this seems like a lot, but it will save space in your freezer, and you will add water to the reduced stock to use it.

Let the stock cool, then place in the refrigerator so that any fat left on the surface will harden. Remove the layer of hardened fat with a spoon and strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve. Store the reduced stock is plastic freezer containers, zipper snack or sandwich bags, or even ice cube trays.

To use the stock, thaw, then mix 2 parts water and 1 part reduced stock.

For the chicken: If you used uncooked chicken pieces, allow it to cool, then separate the chicken meat from the bones and skin. Use the meat to make chicken soup, chicken and dumplings, or chicken enchiladas.

From a Carcass: To make stock from a cooked chicken carcass, first remove the skin from the chicken. Place the entire carcass in a stock pot, then follow the instructions above using the ingredients list above.

Homemade Beef Stock
printable version
Makes approximately 41 ounces of reduced stock (123 ounces of usable stock, a little more than 15 cups = equivalent to about nine 14-oz cans)
3-4 meaty beef soup bones
additional beef scraps (optional)
4 large cloves of garlic, smashed
2 large onions, quartered
green ends of 2 bunches of scallions
5-6 black peppercorns
1 large thyme sprig
2 bay leaves
water
beef base (optional)
Preheat oven to 450 F. Place the beef soup bones, and if you have them, any other beef scraps into a  roasting pan (you can used a rimmed baking sheet if you don’t have a roasting pan). Be sure to leave room between the pieces so that they can brown nicely. 
Place pan into the oven and roast for 25 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and sprinkle with garlic, onions, and scallion. Return to the oven and roast meat and vegetables for 20 minutes more. 
Remove from oven and using tongs, lift each piece of meat, allowing any rendered fat to drip off. Place meat into stock pot. Repeat this process with the vegetables and add the remaining ingredients (herbs, etc). Once everything is in the stock pot, drain the fat out of the roasting pan, but don’t remove the browned bits! While the roasting pan is still warm, add one cup of water and using a wooden spoon or spatula, deglaze the pan by scraping up the browned bits and stirring them into the water. 
Pour the contents of the deglazed pan into the stock pot over the beef and vegetables. Fill pot with water, leaving about 2 inches of head space. Bring pot to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Cover pot and reduce heat to low, simmer for 2 hours. 

Turn off heat and use a slotted spoon or tongs to remove the beef bones and other meat pieces, discard. Strain the beef broth and remaining vegetables through a colander, discard the solids. Strain the broth again through a sieve and back into the stock pot, return the heat to medium. I add 2 tablespoons of beef base to my stock. Stock purists will argue that this isn’t necessary, and I agree, but the beef base gives a boost of flavor and eliminates the need for salt. You can skip this step if you like. After adding the beef base, return the stock to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it starts to boil, turn down just slightly (in between medium-high and medium) and let the stock cook down (reduce) by about 75%. I know this seems like a lot, but it will save space in your freezer, and you will add water to the reduced stock to use it.
Let the stock cool, then place in the refrigerator so that any fat left on the surface will harden. Remove the layer of hardened fat with a spoon and strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve. Store the reduced stock is plastic freezer containers, zipper snack or sandwich bags, or even ice cube trays. 
To use the stock, thaw, then mix 2 parts water and 1 part reduced stock.

I linked this to Tip Me Tuesday on Tip Junkie :)

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19 Responses to Homemade Chicken and Beef Stock

  1. 1
    Barbara Bakes says:

    So many great ideas! I'm sure this would save me tons of money!

  2. 2
    Frieda says:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I tried making a turkey stock and bleh….it was so bland! I think I used too much water and didn't reduce it. I loved your freezing tips.

  3. 3
    Megan says:

    Nice post and great info. Your pictures make me just want to naw on those soup bones!

  4. 4
    Winnie says:

    Great post! Homemade stock is the best…I've got a veggie one simmering right now!

  5. 5
    Ingrid says:

    Thanks for sharing all the great info! I really need to try making my own. I can only imagine how much BETTER it would taste than the canned stuff.
    ~ingrid

  6. 6
    Barbara @ Modern Comfort Food says:

    What a font of very useful information this post contains, Amanda! I've been making my own chicken stock for years but never tried the beef version. Now I will, having been so thoroughly schooled by your write-up. Many thanks!

  7. 7
    Tasty Eats At Home says:

    I think it's great that you and I both blogged about stock. Yours is a great post – I've been meaning to dedicate a single post to the wonders of stock, but never have. Great post – I'm jealous of your little freezer jars. I need to get myself some!

  8. 8
    cookies and cups says:

    Awesome post! This is such a helpful thing for so many of us!

  9. 9
    Tiffiny Felix says:

    I love to make my own stock…it *so* much better than store-bought. Your idea about saving veggie trimmings is *genius*! I'm going to start my freezer bag tonight :) I tried making beef stock once and didn't think it was that great. I'm going to try your method; store beef broth is horrid, so I don't bother with it, but I feel like I'm missing out on good stuff that uses it. Thanks!!

  10. 10
    biz319 says:

    While I make chicken stock all the time, never thought to make beef broth! Love it!

  11. 11
    Debbie says:

    Thanks for posting this Amanda! I have made my own chicken stock but never beef. I will try the beef sometime soon….

  12. 12
    Leslie says:

    wonderful tips!!! nothing better than homemade stock

  13. 13
    noble pig says:

    I like those containers…I need to get a bigger freezer! But there is nothing like homemade.

  14. 14
    Nutmeg Nanny says:

    Your stock looks amazing! I need to make some of my mine own…and then invest in a chest freezer so I can store it all…haha.

  15. 15
    Amy @ Positively Splendid says:

    We make our own stock, too, and on top of the cost savings, it tastes so much better – and is so much better for you without all of that excessive salt! Thanks so much for sharing!

  16. 16
    Nana Jackie says:

    I had to blink twice and rub my eyes when I saw your picture of the stock containers. Take a look at this picture of my jalapeno jelly from last September and tell me if that countertop and backsplash don't look familiar! http://www.twitpic.com/hpnl4

  17. 17
    Andrea says:

    I learned so much reading this post, and made chicken stock for the first time last week using your recipe. I did roast my chickens first, shred the meat, and then used the carcasses. I love that you thought to reduce the stock down do it doesn't take up as much space. It really made me feel domestic to make stock! And I feel great about the nutrional aspect of no added junk. Thank you for this post. And I love your idea to freeze fresh herbs with water in an ice cube tray. I was just about to cut my herbs back before the first frost and I was going to dry them, but now I think I will try this. I have really enjoyed your blog since I found it!

  18. 18
    Lys ~ Cooking In Stilettos says:

    This post inspired me to make another attempt at making stock rather than relying on stock in a box. Thanks for the tips and tricks!

  19. 19
    Amanda says:

    Andrea – that is sooo great! Thanks so much for telling me, that is wonderful!

    Lys – It's really easy! You'll love the results! I have a ton of little bags of bits and pieces of chicken (whenever I trim the meat before cooking it I save all the bits in the freezer for stock) so it's about time to make it again. I have a carcass in the freezer too and a bunch of beef scraps.

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