November 4, 2010

Homemade Chicken Stock

Last week we had our first winter storm.

It dropped (on average) 7.1 inches of snow in Duluth.

Typically, I am not a fan of winter.

Since I met Steve, however, it has become more tolerable.

First, because he loves winter.

I mean loves it.

And he convinces me to get out and play in the snow, which makes it go by faster.

Second, because if I am going to be cooped up in the house while it's snowing and blowing and dark (have I mentioned how much I hate daylight savings time?), at least I will be cooped up with him.

Third, because he has a snowplow.

Fourth, because he has a shovel, and he's not afraid to use it.

Besides Steve, the only other things that get me through winter are good books and soup.

And SmartWool socks.


One of the main ingredients in several of my favorite winter soups is chicken stock!

Now, you can always buy store-bought chicken stock...

...but it's expensive.

And the flavor isn't as rich (which means it won't make as yummy soup!).

And if you are watching your sodium intake, store-bought stock is higher in sodium, even though you still need to add salt to it for most recipes.

My point is, homemade stock is better, even though it adds steps/time to your soup recipe.


My solution is to make large amounts of it.

I have a large stockpot that must be around 20 quarts that I use (after I remove the chicken and veggies and strain the broth, it leaves me with about 2  7-quart dutch ovens full). This makes enough for 2 - 3 large pots of soup.

Whatever I don't use right away, I put in containers or zip-top bags and freeze it.

Here is a basic recipe for homemade chicken stock, and then please see my notes below for more specific instructions and substitutions.

Homemade Chicken Stock
  • 8 pounds of chicken pieces (carcasses, wings, roasting chickens, etc.- whatever you have)
  • 6 large carrots, washed and cut into large pieces
  • 4 celery stocks, washed and cut into large pieces (leaves and all!)
  • 1 medium onion, quartered (skin and all!)
  • 10 or more sprigs of fresh dill (trust me!)
  • 10 - 20 sprigs of fresh thyme, oregano, and/or rosemary
  • 10 whole peppercorns
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • water
 Throw everything into a large stockpot or dutch oven and cover with water. Bring to a boil and let it simmer for 4 - 6 hours. Strain stock through a fine-mess strainer into another container. Let it chill overnight or until fat solidifies on top. Remove fat. Use immediately, or place in plastic containers/zip-top bags and freeze.

* If I am going to make chicken noodle soup (or some other soup that calls for chicken), I will throw a whole chicken in the stock pot, bring it to a boil and simmer it for about 45 minutes (or until the legs pull away easily). At this point, I will remove the whole chicken from the stock, let it cool, pick the meat off the bone, and then throw the carcass back in. You don't want to simmer any chicken that you are going to eat for 4+ hours - it will be like rubber. You can also use the carcasses from rotisserie chickens.
** If you aren't watching your sodium, substitute some of the water for fat-free, low sodium chicken broth. This will provide a richer flavor.
*** If you don't have fresh herbs, you can substitute dried, or use a combination. Last time I used fresh thyme, but dried oregano and also some red pepper flakes. Try to use the fresh dill though! It adds something extra (though it doesn't impart a strong dill flavor on your soups).
**** If you don't want to wait overnight to skim the fat off, cool stock down enough to pour into a fat-separating pitcher; or pour into large zip-top bags, seal top of bag, cut bottom corner off of bag (fat will have risen to the top) and pour the stock into a pot, pinching the corner of the bag to prevent any of the fat from going in the pot...discard bag with remaining fat in it. I prefer to plan ahead and chill it overnight...because it is so much easier to skim the fat off:

Stay tuned for a recipe for delicious chicken noodle soup...using homemade chicken stock, of course!

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