If you’ve been reading my other recipes/articles, you’ll always see me say “… I usually save these for making stock”, or some other variation. Well, this is it! In order to make killer chicken stock, just follow along below.
Make your own stock?
Homemade chicken stock has several advantages over buying off the shelf in the store. It is an excellent way to make homemade soups, or even a healthy drink. Occasionally, when I have left over stock I need to use, I use it instead of water in various recipes. There are numerous uses for it!
- Make your own soups – You might be tempted to go to the store and pick up a can of Progressso or Campbells Chunky… but have you ever tried or even thought about making your own? Look at the ingredients in a store bought soup, and then check out my Rotisserie Chicken Soup. It’s significantly healthier, significantly cheaper, and much better tasting.
- Make a healthy drink – When you are feeling sick, they always say chicken soup… there is a reason. Did you know that the marrow from the bones provides an incredible support to the immune system? How about the goodness from the essence of all those herbs and meat? I like to freeze a bunch of it for the times when I am feeling ill.
- Substitute for water – Chicken stock is excellent as a substitute for water! Ever make Basmati rice on the stove top? What about another recipe that calls for 1/2 cup of water? Have a frozen skillet meal that you just add water? Use stock instead! It’s surprisingly delicious.
Some Tips to Help Save Up for Stock
In order to make stock, it requires you to make other meals and dutifully save up for it! In my household, I constantly cook whole chickens so I have a decently steady supply of bones. I keep a gallon Ziploc bag in the freezer at all times to catch the ingredients as I come across them…
- When you are done carving and getting ready to store some remains, take an extra few minutes and minimize the amount of skin/meat on the bones. You don’t have to remove it all, but you also don’t want more meat than bone.
- If you are anything like me, I always have leftover celery and carrots from previous recipes that will likely just sit and go bad. Throw a couple in the freezer bag.
- Sometimes other recipes call for fresh ingredients and herbs to be used… I’ll clip off a few and add them to the bag. It really allows you to experiment with different herbs and such.
If you do a lot of cooking in your house, this is fairly easy to do. If you would like to do more cooking, I will selfishly point you to my recipes page.
A Short Word…
I need to get something off my chest. You may have heard of Bone Broth… the newest fad in granola drinks. This is actually Chicken or Beef Stock. Stock is made with bones, Broth is made with meat. There is debate on the exact definition of a broth vs stock, but if bones are used we will call it a stock.
If you are interested in jumping on the “bone broth” bandwagon, then start making your own. Don’t be swayed into the Trader Joe’s marketing to be swilled out of your money. Eat healthy by cooking whole chickens yourself, save those carrots/celery that are left over and about to go bad by freezing them with chicken carcasses/bones, and make your own “bone broth”. At least then you get to control what goes in it.
Let’s Make Chicken Stock!
To make chicken stock, all recipes have the same general requirements: Carrots, Celery, Bones, etc. While this will be no different, we will be roasting bones and using a slow cooker instead of the more traditional stove top. Probably because I’m lazy, but I accidentally once boiled the stock for a little bit and it was awful. I found that boiling vs a low simmer has a dramatic taste difference, and a slow cooker ensures consistent heating.
You’ll also find that the flexibility in making stock is tremendous. You can add more or less ingredients, different herbs, and change the cook time to change the robustness. I encourage anyone to first follow this recipe verbatim, and then look into the modifications.
Defrost: If you are like me, you probably have a large gallon Ziploc bag in the freezer to keep bones in from past meals. Start your efforts by ensuring all of your bones are completely thawed. Setting the bag out on the counter for an hour or so should do the trick.
Break and Roast the Bones: Set your oven temperature to 400 degrees F. While the oven is heating up, try to break a few of the bones if you can. We want to make it as easy as possible for marrow to be exposed to the broth. Lay out bones in a shallow baking sheet and toss in a little bit olive oil. The goal here is to brown the bones and melt some of the fat. The roasted flavor is an excellent addition to the stock! Cook for 45 minutes. If you really like the flavor of roasting, you could also put a quartered onion (skin on) or two on the baking sheet as well.
Prepping the Vegetables and Herbs: We will want to cut all the vegetable ingredients in approximately 1/2″ – 1″ pieces. Smash the garlic with a knife. Keeping the ingredients in larger components makes it easier for us to filter it out later.
Throw it all in and Cook: First, place all the bones/remnants into the slow cooker and the non-bone chicken/turkey parts. Then add the vegetables, herbs, and spices. Then pour in the water. Set the slow cooker to low, and check it out again in 12 hours. Give it a little taste. If you want a bit stronger or robust taste, cook for another 12 hours. I recommend the full 24 hours. That’s it? Yeah.
The Final Steps
Once you have determined you like the taste, you’ll first want to remove the large pieces. My method is to put a strainer over a large stock pot, and using tongs I’ll add the large pieces to a strainer. This preserves the most liquid.
I will then replace the strainer with a fine mesh steel strainer, like this one. Alternatively, you could use several layers of cheesecloth if you have some. Using a large ladle, I’ll begin scooping the liquid and pouring it through the fine strainer. I do it this way to keep sediment to a minimum and keep it in the slow cooker.
How to Serve and Save
If done right, you’ll notice that the final product will be cloudy, maybe some sediment at the bottom, and coming out of the fridge it’ll likely be a bit gelatinous (like Jell-O). This is perfectly normal and good.
To save it, I prefer to portion out 1 or 2 cup servings and freeze. This allows me to quickly grab what I need without having to defrost a large quantity. You can refrigerate safely up to 5 days, or freeze up to a year (if it lasts that long).
To make it a drink, put some in a glass, throw in the microwave for about 30 seconds. You will want it to be warm when you drink. You can also add water or other spices to make it taste the way you want. When I’m feeling ill, I make myself a nice warm glass. Soooo good.
Killer Chicken Stock
- 8 qt Slow Cooker
- 1-1½ Chicken bones/carcass and other remains (If you have a turkey, that's good too!)
- 2 stalks Celery (Leaves and all!)
- 2 Medium Carrots
- 1 Medium Onion, Yellow (Keep the skin on)
- 3 cloves Garlic
- 1 bunch Fresh Parsley (If you don't have fresh, ~3 tbsp of dried will work)
- 2-4 sprigs Fresh Thyme (If you don't have fresh, 1 tsp of dried will work)
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 tbsp Black Peppercorns (If you don't have peppercorns, you can use a 1:1 substitution with Ground Pepper. )
- 1 tsp Table Salt
- 8 cup Water
- If applicable, defrost the bones by setting out on the counter for an hour or so.
- Snap and toss the bones in a little bit of olive oil. Lay out on a tray and roast for 45 minutes at 400 degrees F.
- Crush the garlic with a knife. Cut the celery and carrots into 1" chunks. Quarter the onion.
- Place the bones in the slow cooker first. Then add any of the remaining non bone chicken/turkey parts that were not roasted (ex. gizzard, skin pieces, etc). Top with the vegetables/herbs, and then fill with water.
- Set slow cooker to LOW, and cook for 12 hours. Taste the stock, if you want a more robust taste, continue cooking for another 12 hours on LOW.
- Remove the large "chunks" from the stock. Strain the remaining through a fine steel mesh strainer or cheese cloth.
- Refrigerate up to 5 days, or freeze up to a year.