DIY: Make Your Own Homemade Chicken Stock

Homemade Chicken Stock starting to cook. (Wendy Goodfriend)

The key to any good soup is a great homemade chicken stock. And while I admittedly resort to the boxed versions when I’m in a hurry and I’ve run out of my freezer stock, it doesn’t hold a candle to the deep, rich, clean flavor of homemade. Plus, take a look at some of those boxed versions and you’ll discover that many of them include added sugar (something which, frankly, surprised me). You can rest assured that when you make your own stock, it will be made with fresh, whole ingredients and no nasty, unpronounceable additives.

The other great thing about chicken stock is that it really is simple to make. It just takes hands-off time. Long, slow, bubbling away on the stovetop time. But all you need to do is chop a few ingredients and throw them all into the pot.

To make a flavorful stock, you want to use bony chicken pieces that have a little meat on them. I like using wings, backs and necks (just ask your butcher or at the meat counter if they have the backs and necks, they often do). If you want, you can use chicken legs along with wings. I’ve also made stock with a whole cut-up chicken (but then I like to pull off the good meat partway through so I don’t waste it). Or you can use the bones of a roasted chicken after you serve it for dinner.

Add to the chicken pieces some aromatic vegetables. I tend to stay classic here with onion, carrot, celery and some parsley. But I’ve also been known to throw in a chopped potato or yam, or part of a leek or a few mushrooms. Just don’t add any vegetables that will make the stock taste bitter, like cabbage or tomatoes.

I typically don’t skim my stock, and just strain it at the end. If you simmer it very gently, it shouldn’t be an issue. But feel free to pull out a large metal spoon and skim any debris off the top while it simmers if you like.

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Make sure not to overly salt your stock; in fact, don’t salt it at all. It’s a lot more versatile if you leave it unsalted and then add salt when you actually use it in a recipe, like this one for Chicken Noodle Soup.

Finally, the other great thing about making your own stock is that you can do it anytime and then freeze it for later use whenever you need it. I like using quart-sized, freezer-safe deli containers, which you can easily purchase online. Then I have 4 cups at the ready whenever I need to make soup. Make sure you let the stock cool to room temperature before chilling then freezing it, and don’t forget to label it. I try to use it within 3 months, but it will keep for up to 6 months in the freezer.

Homemade Chicken Stock.
Homemade Chicken Stock. (Wendy Goodfriend)

Recipe: Homemade chicken stock

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Makes about 4 quarts

    Ingredients:
  • 4-5 lbs chicken wings, backs, necks, and/or legs
  • 4 quarts water
  • 2 yellow onions, roughly chopped (with skins)
  • 3 large carrots, roughly chopped
  • 3 large stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • Small handful roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley stems and leaves
    Instructions:
  1. In a large stockpot, combine the chicken parts, water, onion, carrots, celery, and parsley. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer gently for about 2 hours.
  2. In a large stockpot add the chicken parts.
    In a large stockpot add the chicken parts. (Wendy Goodfriend)
    Combine the chicken parts, water, onion, carrots, celery, and parsley. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
    Combine the chicken parts, water, onion, carrots, celery, and parsley. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. (Wendy Goodfriend)
    Reduce the heat to low and let simmer gently for about 2 hours.
    Reduce the heat to low and let simmer gently for about 2 hours. (Wendy Goodfriend)
  3. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, then let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate in the bowl until chilled; remove the layer of fat on top of the stock.
  4. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl.
    Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. (Wendy Goodfriend)
    Use a ladle to press the ingredients of the stock to release the liquid.
    Use a ladle to press the ingredients of the stock to release the liquid. (Wendy Goodfriend)
    Let the stock cool to room temperature. Refrigerate in the bowl until chilled; remove the layer of fat on top of the stock.
    Let the stock cool to room temperature. Refrigerate in the bowl until chilled; remove the layer of fat on top of the stock. (Wendy Goodfriend)
  5. To store, ladle it into airtight, freezer-safe storage containers (unless you plan to use it right away). The stock will keep, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  6. Use the stock to make homemade Chicken Noodle Soup.
    Use the stock to make Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup. (Wendy Goodfriend)

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