This is part 2 in my 7 post series on how to get 6 meals for 2 people from one chicken. If you haven’t read part 1 yet, I highly recommend you check it out.
The most important thing you need to know about making your own homemade chicken stock is that it’s actually really easy.
For years I was under the impression that the realm of broth or stock making was shrouded in mystery and known only to chefs and Vietnamese grandmothers. Once I finally braved the process in my own kitchen I was completely surprised by just how simple it is.
Even if you are an absolute novice in the kitchen you can handle making homemade stock. Promise.
Raw vs. Cooked Carcass
The first decision you need to make is if you’re going to start with a raw or cooked carcass. Both work, but you’ll get a slightly different flavour.
A cooked carcass tends to impart a richer flavour to the broth, while a raw carcass will result in a “cleaner” (for want of a better word) flavour. Neither is better or worse that the other, so try them both to see which you like better.
I typically roast a whole chook to use for multiple meals and then use the remaining bones to create the stock.
However you can always pick up raw chicken bones cheaply from the butcher and roast them prior to using them to create the stock.
Vegetables and other bits & pieces
The beauty of making stock is that there is no right or wrong way. Just use whatever you happen to have leftover in the fridge or pantry to add flavour.
A good general rule of thumb is roughly chopped onion and carrot. Parsnip and potato also work well too, and you could throw in some garlic if it takes your fancy.
I tend to throw in the stalks of fresh herbs – parsley, coriander, thyme or rosemary are good choices. Finish with a few bay leaves, sprinkle of salt and a few peppercorns.
Stick with whole spices rather than ground so that you don’t end up with a gritty, cloudy broth.
Stock flavour combinations
If you have grand plans for the broth, such as the base of pho or tom yum and are seeking a particular flavour then mix up your herb and spice additions. The following are my suggestions for possible combinations:
- Traditional – parsley stalks, onion, carrots, bay leaves, salt, pepper
- Vietnamese/Pho – coriander stalks, star anise, cinnamon stick, cloves, fresh ginger, onion
- Thai/Tom Yum – coriander stalks, bruised lemongrass stalk, whole chillies, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, spring onions
- Italian – rosemary sprigs, thyme sprigs, parsnip, bay leaves, fennel seeds, onion, salt pepper
So as I mentioned earlier it really is super simple to make your own stock. Simply place your chicken carcass into a large pot along with your choice of vegetables, herbs and spices and fill with water. Cover and bring to the boil, then lower the heat to simmer.
Now rather than hovering over it trying to skim away the foam, skip that and just leave it to bubble away for a couple of hours.
I usually like to let mine cook for about 2 hours, a little less or a little more won’t hurt. In the meantime go pour yourself a cup of tea, grab a good book and put your feet up. See, this broth business isn’t so bad after all!
Once the time is up strain through a colander into a large container (or several if necessary) and put in the fridge to cool. Once it’s completely cool then you can simply scoop up the solid bits of fat which will have risen to the top. Job done.
How to make your homemade chicken stock clear, not cloudy
If like me, you like your broth nice and clear, with no grit or cloudiness then there are a couple of other steps I would recommend.
- When you first place the carcass in the pot, leave all the vegetables and herbs out and just cover with water. So all you’ll have in there is just the chicken and water. Bring it the boil and simmer for a few minutes. You’ll notice little bits and pieces of chicken, grit and unidentified stuff floating to the top. This is probably the biggest culprit for cloudy stock. After cooking for a few minutes discard the water in the pot and rub off any gritty bits from the chicken pieces. Then start your broth again with the cleaned chicken, fresh water and all your vegetables. This step alone will make a big difference to the final result.
- Strain the stock twice at the end of cooking. The first time you’ll use the colander to separate the stock from the vegetables, bones, herbs and spices. The second time, line your colander with muslin or cheesecloth (I’ve also been known to use paper towel in a pinch) and slowly strain the broth through the fabric. This catches any tiny bits that are small enough to weasel their way through the colander.
Follow these easy steps and for a few minutes extra work you’ll have a lovely clear, rich broth.
Don’t waste the vegetables
If you’ve used vegetables like parsnip, carrot or potato in your broth don’t throw them away. Either chop them up and use along with the broth in a soup, or mash and eat with another meal or on their own straight from the pot with a bit of butter. Shh, I won’t tell anyone.
Storing your broth
Keep any stock that you plan to use in the next 3 days in the fridge. Anything longer than that you should freeze.
I try to freeze stock in useful sized portions. Either in 250-500ml containers, or use an ice tray to freeze into cubes. The cubes can be transferred to a plastic bag once frozen so not to hog the very important ice tray.
That way you can just defrost what you need for that meal rather than the whole lot.
- Chicken carcass or bones
- Onion, roughly chopped
- Carrots, roughly chopped
- Parsley stalks
- 2-3 bay leaves
- Sea salt
- Place your chicken carcass in a large pot and fill with water
- Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer 5 mins
- Discard the water and scrub off any grit or chicken bits from the carcass
- Place the cleaned carcass back in the pot along with remaining ingredients and fill with fresh water
- Return to the boil
- Reduce the heat and simmer covered for approximately 2 hours
- Strain stock through a colander to separate broth from the bones and vegetables
- Set aside vegetables and empty colander
- Line the colander with cheesecloth and slowly strain the stock for a second time through the fabric into containers
- Let the stock cool then place in the fridge until completely cold
- Scoop up the solidified fat and strain again through a fine colander to remove the smaller bits of fat
- Freeze or use as desired
- Steps 1-4 and step 9 are optional if you prefer a clear broth