Chicken stock can be used for much more than soup. Using a little bit of stock instead of water adds so much more great flavor to risottos, sauces, rice, mashed potatoes. It’s also great when cooking healthy, as it boosts flavor almost as much as adding butter.
Instead of using water or the canned broth, I try as much as possible to use my own homemade chicken stock. I can’t tell you how much better it tastes when you make your own instead of using the canned stuff.
DP Note: A “stock” is made using more bones vs. meat and generally involves browning them before simmering, which provides more flavor. A “broth” is made using more meat vs. bones, and there is no browning of the ingredients prior to simmering.
While I do also use canned broth from time to time, there is simply nothing better than homemade. When using the canned (or the larger “boxed” container) variety, however, I like to use Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value Low Sodium Organic Chicken Broth. It just has a richer flavor that is so much better than the College Inn or Swanson brands.
Making your own homemade stock is very easy and requires little effort. No recipe required, and you can improvise each time, based on what you have in the refrigerator or pantry. You don’t even have to cook a roast chicken in order to make a homemade stock – just pick up a rotisserie chicken from the market on the way home for dinner, and use the leftover bones.
You can keep stock in the refrigerator for about a week. You can also freeze it and it should last a few months. I like to portion out my stock in quart-size zip top bags, squeezing out the excess air and then freezing.
Homemade Chicken Stock
This makes about 8 cups.
Place the leftover chicken carcass into a stockpot. Add any vegetables you have in order to provide additional flavor (no chopping or peeling needed, just drop them in whole): onion, garlic, leeks, carrots, celery, parsnips, etc. You can also save any other vegetable scraps you accumulate while cooking by throwing them into a zip top bag and placing in the freezer until you’re ready to use them. Get creative — save whatever you have: asparagus, green beans, ends of squash or zucchini. The only rules are not to use too much of just one vegetable, or it will overwhelm the flavor of the stock, and not to use really strong or bitter vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.
Also add any herbs with which you’d like to flavor the stock: oregano, basil, rosemary — whatever you have.
Place enough cold water in the pot to cover the bones and veggies and bring to a quick boil. Skim the foam that forms on the top of the stock. Reduce heat and let it simmer for at least 3-4 hours, while periodically skimming the top.
Once the stock cools a bit so that it is close to room temperature, strain it through a colander and place it in individual containers and chill in the refrigerator. The next day, skim off the fat that appears on the top and either use or freeze. As mentioned above, the stock can be kept for up to a week in the refrigerator, and several months in the freezer.