There are a million different ‘recipes’ out there for making chicken stock, but they are pretty unnecessary. Once you know the (very) basic method, it’s fairly foolproof:
Take bones (with meat or not, roasted or not, chicken, duck, whatever), put in large pot with assorted vegetables (onions, carrots, celery, broccoli stalks, asparagus tips, etc), cover with water, add peppercorns/bay leaf/rosemary…or not, simmer for a long time (2-24 hours, how much patience do you have?), strain, cool (then scoop off the fat…or don’t…I don’t.), store (freezer, fridge, pressure canned).
As long as there are bones covered with water, you will have stock. Period. All the other details are a matter of personal preference, availability, and intended quality. Roasting the bones will give the stock a deeper flavor, and vegetables will add both flavor and nutrients. The longer it simmers, the more mineralish-collagen-y delicious goodness will be extracted. A simple stock made from simmering a couple chicken wings for an hour or two is infinitely better than just water in soups, stews, rice, etc. A glorious, gelatinous stock made from a whole roasted chicken carcass that’s been simmering since yesterday morning will be even better.
There are a few helpful tricks that are good to know:
- Adding a tablespoon or two of vinegar will help draw out calcium from the bones, especially if you let it sit for half an hour before simmering.
- Always start with cold ingredients and cold water.
- Keeping the stock at a constant simmer, instead of a boil, will result in a more nutrient-dense, less cloudy finished product.
- Resist the urge to stir the pot- doing so will only cloud the water.
- Not really a trick as it’s pretty obvious, but particularly pungent veggies will impart a stronger flavor (think asparagus, cabbage, and turnips).
- Onion skins will help the stock turn a beautiful shade of golden brown.
Pssst! You there! Want to make stock for just a few pennies, with hardly any effort at all? It’s so simple; I cannot believe I didn’t think of it long ago! (Because I am, of course, brilliant.)
Whenever you peel a carrot, skin an onion, or chop celery, take those leftover bits and ends and toss them into a big container in the freezer. Having roast chicken for Sunday dinner? Chicken thighs for lunch on Tuesday? BBQ wings on game night? Throw all those bones in a container, too. When they’re full, check the crisper drawer for any sad-looking (past their prime but not rotten) veggies, dump the whole thing into a stock pot, cover with water, and there you go! No extra chopping, shopping, or thinking. It’s a game-changer.
Now, the purists out there are probably cringing, and I understand. If the stock is intended to be the star player in your great-grandmother’s chicken noodle soup recipe, then perhaps you’ll want to pay more attention to the vegetable-bone-water ratio. Maybe you’d better toss in a bay leaf and a palmful of peppercorns. But for your everyday bone broth stash, this method is just fine. Your pot of rice will thank you, trust me. Don’t let those long-winded (ha, look who’s talking…) bone broth recipes scare into thinking it’s a complicated or difficult process. Get to it!