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Home » Practicing the basics: chicken broth and chicken stock

Practicing the basics: chicken broth and chicken stock

Here are a couple of very basic but solid recipes for making homemade chicken broth and chicken stock. (the terms “broth” and “stock” are often used interchangeably; officially, broth doesn’t use vegetables)

Suggested reading:

Chicken broth

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds chicken parts. Use pieces with bones (thighs, wings, drumsticks, or even a whole chicken cut up in pieces), and preferably larger bones: much of the flavor in broth comes from the marrow in the bones. Also, it’s better to use raw chicken; you CAN use leftover roast chicken, and many people do, but the parts of the chicken that broth will leach most of its flavor from have lost much of that flavor if pre-cooked.
  • 3 1/2 quarts COLD water. Heating the water and the chicken parts at the same time will ensure that the chicken cooks more evenly throughout.
  • 1 onion, chopped. Yes, officially this makes it “stock” instead of broth. If you are a purist, you can leave this out.
  • 2 bay leaves.
  • 2 teaspoons salt. You could salt it more, but it’s better to leave your broth somewhat under-salted; you can always add more salt later, but you can’t take the salt away if it’s too much.

Put chicken and water in a large stockpot. Make sure that all of the chicken is immersed in the water, or nearly so.

Heat over medium-high heat until boiling. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 3 hours, skimming off any scum that collects on the surface.

Add onion, bay leaves and salt and simmer for another 2 hours.

Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a pot or heat-proof container.

Season to taste.

Chill in refrigerator for one hour. When cold, skim the fat off the top. Chicken broth is the perfect environment for bacteria to grow, so you need to get it out of the “danger zone” — 40 to 140 degrees F — as quickly as possible. Storing it in a wide container so that that the broth is not very deep will help it chill faster in the refrigerator.

Use immediately, refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to two months. You can pre-measure it out into the correct amounts for the recipes you want to use it for and store it in separate containers so that you only need to unfreeze what you need.

Chicken Stock

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds chicken parts. See note above about using parts with bones.
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tbsp. dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs parsley
  • cold water
  • 1 tsp. salt

Place chicken, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, peppercorns, thyme, bay leaf, and parsley in a large pot. Add enough cold water to just cover the ingredients.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Add the salt, Simmer over low heat for 2-4 hours, occasionally skimming any scum off the top.

Remove from heat. Strain through a fine-grained strainer into a heat-proof pot or container.

Season to taste.

Chill in the refrigerator for one hour or until cold. When chilled, skim the fat off the top. Chicken broth is the perfect environment for bacteria to grow, so you need to get it out of the “danger zone” — 40 to 140 degrees F — as quickly as possible. Storing it in a wide container so that that the broth is not very deep will help it chill faster in the refrigerator.

Use immediately, refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to two months. You can pre-measure it out into the correct amounts for the recipes you want to use it for and store it in separate containers so that you only need to unfreeze what you need.

Tips and suggestions:

  • The beauty of chicken stock is that because there is no standard, you can endlessly mess with the recipe to make it your own. You’ll notice that the vegetables are largely the classic “aromatic vegetables”: onion, garlic, carrots, celery. Change their proportions to match your taste (or the soups and other dishes that you will make with your stock). Change the seasoning.
  • The salt is added after the water comes up to a boil. This is intentional; adding salt before the water is boiling can damage the surface of your pot. Keep this in mind when you’re making pasta as well: boil the water, add the pasta, let it come back up to a boil, then add salt.
  • For added flavor, you can brown the chicken parts first (about 3-4 minutes per side over medium heat). It’s a bit tricky because you’ll need a bit of oil to brown them, but you don’t really want to add the oil to your stock. On the other hand, you do want the “fond” from browning them — all the brown stuff stuck to the pot — to remain, because it’s where the best flavor is. The extra oil in the pot is the greater evil, so there are three options: 1) brown the chicken parts in oil in a separate pan, and pat them dry before moving them to the stock pot; 2) brown the chicken parts in the stock pot in a minimal amount of oil (approx. 2 tbsp); remove the chicken; drain the oil from the pot; put the chicken parts back in the pot and add the water; 3) brown the chicken parts in oil in the pot; remove the chicken; let the pot cool for five minutes; gently wipe out the remaining oil with a paper towel while trying to leave as much of the “fond” intact; then replace the chicken in the pot and add the water.