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