My meat bill has gone up substantially since I started buying sustainably-raised chicken. The flavor and health of the birds I buy is more than worth the price, but I’m loath to let any of the wonderful meat go to waste. I pick every little sliver of meat off the bones, adding the leftovers to enchiladas, taquitos and risottos. When I’m done, I give the chicken bones a second life by browning them and simmering them with a few aromatic vegetables to make a flavorful chicken stock.
Homemade stock is not only wallet-friendly, it also allows you to avoid the salty chemical experiment that lurks in store-bought containers of stock.
The recipe for stock is simple: brown some bones and vegetables, cover with water, and simmer for an hour or two.
Use whatever aromatic vegetables or even scraps you have on hand, but follow these guidelines:
USE THESE WHOLE: Add some chopped carrots, onions, celery or herb stalks to the pot to add some extra flavor to your stock.
SAVE THESE SCRAPS: Save carrot peels, onion skins, fennel fronds and celery scraps to add to your stockpot in place of the whole chopped veggies. You can also include garlic scraps, and the green tough parts of leeks. If you won’t be using them within 3 days, freeze the scraps in freezer-safe containers until it is stock-making time.
USE IN MODERATION: You can add some zucchini or mushrooms, but be aware that it will make your stock taste more like these vegetables than like chicken.
DON’T USE: Beets and tomatoes will turn your stock unpleasant colors. Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and eggplant will give it an odd flavor.
For this particular stock, I used carrots and the fennel fronds leftover after I made my fennel blood orange salad, but feel free to change the vegetables for whatever aromatic vegetable scraps you have on hand.
- 1 chicken carcass
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- Fronds and stalks from 2 fennel bulbs
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Break the chicken into pieces small enough to fit in your stockpot. Add the carrot and fennel. Over medium-high heat, brown the bones and vegetables for 5-10 minutes. Don’t attempt to stir or otherwise disturb the bones—just allow them to brown and caramelize a bit.
- Cover the vegetables and chicken with water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1-2 hours, until the stock is reduced by about half. After about 40 minutes of simmering, season the stock to taste with salt and pepper.
- Line a colander with cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl. Pour the stockpot contents into the colander, straining the stock. Discard the solids. Cover and refrigerate the stock until ready to use.
Make Ahead and Storage
If you don’t plan to use the stock within 3 or 4 days, freeze it in small freezer-safe containers for up to 3 months. Alternatively, you can freeze the stock in an ice cube tray, then transfer the cubes of frozen stock to a freezer-safe plastic bag. When you need some stock, simply pull out a few cubes—they’ll defrost much more quickly than a full container of stock!