Homemade Chicken Stock
I’m going to make a believer* out of you . . . on the overwhelming value of homemade/handmade chicken stock. Creating your own chicken stock (fonds de cuisine, or the “heart of cooking” will take time, but once you taste your homemade stock, then sip a spoonful of heated stock from a box, can, or even a frozen version, I am prepared to say that you will know instantly that your version is much, much better.
It’s not difficult to prepare homemade stock and from that homemade soup. It’s not even expensive; it just takes time.
I’m not going to talk to you about time management. We’ve all been living with Covid for long enough to know what the limitations and choices we have in our home challenges. You’ve got the time.
I can’t hold your hand while you’re shopping but I can give you a list that’s not difficult to buy and then assemble. Fresh chicken; this is one of the times you look for a roaster rather than a scrawny fryer on sale at your mega mart. Go all out. Buy a good quality bird. Good ingredients, whether fruits, vegetables or meats are good for a reason. They take longer to grow, cultivate, harvest, and move to market.
Apart from scraping and cleaning the vegetables and cutting the larger ones into chunks, there is little preparation in making stock. Place the vegetables and cut up chicken pieces in a large pot. Add cold water until it almost reaches the top of the pot. Add salt, pepper, several thyme sprigs, two cloves garlic, celery stalks, and carrots, and leeks, if you wish.
That’s enough vegetables. You don’t want to have strongly-flavored vegetables. The chicken is the star. The vegetables are the supporting players.
Place the stockpot with chicken and vegetables and seasonings on a medium burner. Bring to the simmer (You should see the water move and look like it’s about to start boiling.) At this point, lower the heat and monitor the cooking for the next 45 minutes to 1 hour. As the water heats, the vegetables and chicken will create a foam that rises to the top of the water. Scoop this foam off the surface and discard.
Do not allow the stock to boil. Bits of vegetable and meat and bones will be visible, but the stock, when cooked, should be completely clear.
Allow the stock to cool for one hour. Remove the vegetables and cooked chicken and bones from the pot with a slotted spoon. There is no need nor value in cooking the stock more than 1–1/2 hours. All the flavor from the chicken and vegetables will be extracted in that time.
Adjust the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper, if needed.
You can refrigerate the stock with this step.
The stock should be strained through a sieve and cheesecloth before using.
2 large chickens, preferably roasting size — 3 lbs each
2 onions, peeled and halved
2 raw carrots, cut into large pieces
2 stalks celery, cleaned and cut into large pieces
2 cloves garlic, cut in half
salt, pepper, thyme (fresh or dried)
1 bay leaf
1 handful Italian parsley, washed
4–6 peppercorns, crushed
Place ingredients in large, clean pot. Add water to cover. Do not oversalt. I prefer to taste and adjust seasoning at the final stages.