Whole Food Adventures: Chicken Stock

Stock is a general term for any liquid made by boiling the bones of an animal for an extended period, to convince it to let go of it’s delicious gelatin. As we’d made a pair of Cornish Game Hens for dinner last week, we had plenty of bones to toss into a pot and boil. As a difference, Broth is the term typically used when only meat is boiled, however it is perfectly reasonable to use meat when making your stock.

Between the meat and fat bits left on the bones of our hens (and the half a hen that Catherine didn’t eat), we were probably a bit below the recommended 2-3 lbs of chicken (no guts, thank-you-very-much) to the 1 gallon of water that we started with, however the stock still smells absolutely delicious.

Making stock is dead simply. 1 gallon of water, a few pounds of chicken (a small Roaster would be ideal), a few carrots, some celery, and some onion. Toss all those in a pot, bring them to a boil, and turn down and simmer overnight. It’s that simple. The only downside, is that you wak up to a house smelling of chicken soup, which for me isn’t the most appetizing breakfast smell.

The next morning, or afternoon if you’d prefer, just scoop out as much of the chicken and vegetable bits you can remove with a slotted spoon, saving any chicken meat for any sort of shredded chicken application, pour the stock through a strainer into a large bowl, which you can put in the fridge. A few hours later, there should be a layer of scum at the top of the bowl, which can easily be taken off the top, before you separate out the stock into jars or other containers. Keep in the fridge for the short term, or in the freezer for the long term.

Chicken Stock is great for any chicken based dish that required a fair amount of liquid. Soup, Chicken and Dumplings, Stuffing, all of these can benefit from homemade stock, and, unlike most commercial stocks, you’ve get to choose how much sodium you have in your stock.

Sure, making stock takes a lot of time, but 90% of that time is completely unattended. It’s easy, useful, and ultimately healthier than the pre-packaged solutions.