Chicken stock is so versatile, you can add it to many homemade dishes such as soups, stews, stir-fries, rice (or risotto), noodle, sauces, casseroles and pies. You can make chicken stock from scratch. Just keep a bucket of leftover bones into a Ziploc and store in your freezer and you can make stock using those bones and veggies that might otherwise perish. This is one of the frugal way of massively stretching your food budget. Other than economy, the main reason of making chicken stock is for its flavor, nutrition and convenience as you always have them come in handy.
How to Make Delicious and Nutritious Chicken Stock?
- The best chicken stock is made from chicken feet, neck and wings. Choose farm-raised, grass-fed, free-range and organic chicken instead of commercially-raised battery chicken. Organic chicken is healthier, flavorful and antibiotics-free, without synthetic hormones and genetically modified organisms.
- Start stock making with cold filtered water. This helps extract more collagen in the bones which turns into gelatin when simmering in water. This gives the stock more body.
- Cut and expose the chicken bones to allow collagen released from marrow bones and forms gelatin in the stock. This gives the stock wonderful viscous quality, flavors and nutrients.
- Roasted vegetables and bones make a darker and heartier brown stock. Roasting onions especially imparts terrific flavor to the stock rather than raw onions. Roasted bones, necks and feet made a concentrated, rich and clarified gelatinous stock.
- Add some raw vinegar (e.g. white or raw apple cider vinegar to cold water and soak them before boiling, as this acidic medium will soften the bones (break down the cartilage and other connective tissues in the bones) and release minerals and collagen out of the bones.
- Bring the water gradually to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a bare simmer (165 F-180 F). Avoid boiling stock furiously else the stock will turn out murky and cloudy.
- After it starts boiling, skim off or scoop away the impurities, alkaloids and lectin (large proteins) that rise to the stock surface with a shallow slotted spoon.
- Mirepoix (onions, carrots and celery), some aromatic vegetables, root vegetables, herbs and spices add an extra dimension to the flavors and provide extra whopping nutrients to the stock. You can add thyme, astragalus’s root slices, leeks, parsley, peppercorns and et cetera but try to avoid broccoli. Some herbs should be thrown in for just the last 30 minutes as herbs are delicate and can be overdone.
- To strain hot stock, line some layers of cheesecloth in your colander or fine-mesh sieve to strain bits and pieces that are left behind from the chicken bones or meat. Remember to rinse the cheesecloth with cold water and wring it out before lining a colander. The fat will solidify when the hot stock poured through the cold cheesecloth, this process will trap fat and impurities and produce a clearer stock.
- Another way of removing fats and impurities from stock is to let it chills quickly under cold water bath. You can fill your kitchen sink with cold tap water and some ice cubes, then place the stockpot inside kitchen sink. When hot stockpot interferes with cold water bath, fats tend to solidify and coagulate on the top, you can then lift off this top layer with a shallow spoon before transferring into ice cubes tray and put into freezer.
Makes about 3 liters (5 pints)
- 1.5kg (3lb) chicken bones
- 1kg (2lb) skinless chicken thighs and legs
- 3.5 liters (6 pints) water
- 2 spring onions
- 2 slices fresh ginger
- Put the chicken bones into a large saucepan with the meat.
- Add the water and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer and remove any scum that rises to the top. Add the spring onions and ginger and simmer, partially covered, for 3-4 hours.
- Leave the stock to cool slightly, then strain and pour into a container, cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. The stock will keep for 2 days. Before using, skim any fat from the top of the stock. This top fat layer act as a protective layer against micro-organisms. Alternatively, to extend shelf life of chicken stock (up to three months), you can reduce the stock further and then freeze it in ice cube trays. With this, you can unfreeze the desired quantity of stock cubes (instead of batch) for cooking needs in future.