Whether you are roasting a whole chicken, deboning for stir fry, or just have a bucket of bones from KFC… chicken stock is super easy to make and is really worth the time.
I’ve said it before, farmers have a philosophy of “waste not, want not”. That goes double for me when it comes to my chickens. We don’t really buy chicken at the store. These birds were raised on our farm with kindness and respect. I try and extend that respect for their little lives by making sure I get as many meals as I can out of each bird. Once the meat is gone, throw all the remaining parts into a large saucepan with some mirepoix and boil until all the nutrients are transferred to your stock. Here’s the play by play:
- Chicken (or other poultry carcass)
- 2-3 carrots, rough chopped (peel if you want, discard tops/ends, wash well)
- 2-3 celery stalks, rough chopped (include the greens, wash well)
- 1-2 small yellow onions, quartered (dicard root end)
- 1 Tbsp olive or veggie oil
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 1-2 tomatoes, rough chopped (OPTIONAL)
- Handful of fresh parsley (OPTIONAL)
- 2-3 cloves garlic, whole
- 4-6 cups hot water
In a large saucepan on medium-high heat, add oil, onions, carrots, and celery. Stir occasionally, but let them caramelize a little in the saucepan.
Once you see a little color on the onions and carrots, add the bay leaf and any thing else you want to include.
Add the chicken bones/carcass. You may have to do some, um, disassembly for it to fit in your pan… Add enough water to the pot to cover all (or at least most) of the bones. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let it percolate for 1 1/2 to 2 hours*.
I usually do the straining while it’s still hot, but if it’s your first time, you may want to let it cool down for 30-45 minutes before proceeding…
Place a damp (old) dishtowel inside your strainer. Then place the strainer over a large bowl or saucepan. GENTLY pour the chicken, veg, and stock into the strainer. You can use cheesecloth for the straining, but I find the dishtowels work great and cost a whole lot less. If your laundry detergent has a heavy perfume though, you may want to use something else.
Cool the stock and portion it out into freezer-safe containers. If you want to get really tricky, boil your finished stock down for another hour until it is about half the amount you started with. Then pour the reduction into ice cube trays for freezing. Once frozen transfer to a large ziploc bag and keep them handy in your freezer. You now have wonderful, at-the-ready chicken boullion!
Oh! One last step. Once the discards are cool enough, make sure you go through the bones and pick off any meat that still remains on the bones. Even with a lot of practice deboning a chicken, I wind up with a cup or so of picked meat. Put it in a ziploc snack baggie or a little freezer container and pop it into the freezer for later. It seems like a pain now, but when your little ones (or big, strong hubby) is down for a cold next time, you’ll be SOOO glad you have delicious stock and a handful of chicken meat on hand to make a quick batch of Chicken Noodle Soup!!
*My sister recently told me that she does this step in a crockpot. Just lets it go overnight and it works great. I haven’t tried it yet, but only because I don’t have a crockpot! It sounds like a wonderful adaptation.