Chicken Stock

Do I hold by boxed chicken stock? Heck yes! I constantly have at least 5 boxes of Trader Joe’s or Swason chicken broth in my pantry, because I go through them like crazy! [If I am ever rolling in the monies, I would love to buy Kitchen Basic …] I love soups, risotto, etc and I feel like almost everything I cook calls for it. Therefore, it’s completely unreasonable to suggest I could ever switch to all homemade, as some cooking magazines advocate.

I will note that homemade chicken stock tastes different and often better, but not SO much better that I would forsake the ease of boxed stock. BUT if I am roasting a chicken anyway (like for my roasted lemon chicken soup), I’ll go ahead and make stock with the leftover bones and bits of meat. I save this homemade stock for recipes when I really need the broth to shine: risotto, chicken noodle soup, etc. If you’re going to just add broth as more of a base, just reach for the boxed broth; it will do you well.

Also, as a note for the curious, while most people assume stock and broth are interchangeable, the big difference is that broth is essentially seasoned stock: stock is simmered meat, bones, and vegetables with water, and broth is this but with seasoning like pepper (and to split hairs, sometimes broths are made with just meats while stocks are made with bones, giving a richer, more gelatin-y taste/texture). In my kitchen, I think of them as the same, honestly.

Here’s a basic stock that I make, with guidance from The Kitchn.

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  1. Pull apart whatever is left of the chicken carcass. It’s good to split small bones apart; this helps the stock jell. Cut up one or two onions, a few stalks of celery, and a couple carrots and pile into a large pot with the chicken pieces. Add a bay leaf, a handful of parsley, a few peppercorns and any other wilting greens you have around – leeks and turnips are good too. [I had onion, carrots, celery, turnip greens.]
  2. Fill the pot with water and put over high heat. [You want to cover everything in the pot by a couple inches.]
  3. Bring to a rolling boil then lower the heat. You don’t want this to boil briskly; the water should just gurgle, with a few bubbles occasionally hitting the surface.
  4. If a foamy muck comes to the top, skim it off. This is just fat rising to the surface. Don’t worry if you can’t get all of it. Let simmer for about four hours – or however long you have. Two hours will produce a reasonably good chicken stock, although it is not ideal. [I try to do about 4 hours.]
  5. When you are done, remove from the heat and strain out the bones and vegetables, pressing on them to make sure extract all the liquid. Put in the fridge overnight to cool. The next day, skim any congealed fat off the top and discard or save for cooking.
  6. Put the stock in quart containers or bags to freeze. This will stay good in the freezer for several months, and good in the fridge for a few days. [I put mine into freezer safe ziplock bags in 2 & 4 cup increments, because that’s the amounts I tend to use with recipes.]
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