In this guest post, Schoolhouse friend, Jay Bartholomew (also known as @seasonofsalt) takes us through one of the easiest and most rewarding Fall recipes: homemade chicken stock.
There is perhaps no more comforting smell than a pot of chicken stock gently simmering on a cool autumn day. Homemade chicken stock is vastly superior to store-bought and, with a little planning, less expensive. The store-bought stuff is lacking in both flavor and texture. Good flavor comes by extracting as much chicken essence as possible from the meat while complementing it with vegetables and aromatics. Good texture comes by extracting gelatin from the connective tissue which results in a full-bodied stock that sticks to your lips.
It’s important to understand that we are transferring chicken flavor from the chicken to the water and that means the chicken will be flavorless and destined for the compost bin. It’s rather wasteful. So instead of raw chicken this recipe utilizes chicken bones and scraps stored in the freezer until enough have accumulated, waiting to be given a second life as chicken stock.
Homemade Chicken Stock
Do not salt the stock at all. This allows you the option to reduce into a sauce without it becoming overly salty. Season as needed when using.
Many soup recipes call for a quart of stock while sauce recipes often call for just a cup. By dividing amongst large and small freezer bags you are prepared for either.
8-quart stock pot
16-quart stock pot
Cheese cloth (optional)
Fat separator (optional)
1-quart measuring cup
Gallon and quart-sized freezer bags
2 gallon-size freezer bags of frozen chicken carcasses and scraps; or 2 whole chickens
Combine all ingredients in a 16-quart stock pot. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Periodically skim impurities from the top with a spoon. Simmer until liquid has reduced by about a third, about 4 hours.
Place a large colander over an 8-quart stock pot and transfer the solids, in batches, from the larger pot to the smaller one. Use tongs if necessary. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible with a potato masher or wooden spoon. Discard solids and repeat until none remain. Pour remaining liquid through the colander.
Scrub clean the larger pot and colander and transfer the liquid back to the larger pot.
Place the colander back over the smaller pot and place 2 layers of cheese cloth (if using) inside. Transfer the liquid back to the smaller pot.
Fill a sink or the large pot with ice water and place the smaller pot into the ice bath to cool to room temperature, adding ice as needed. Transfer to the fridge and chill overnight.
The next day, carefully skim off all the fat (schmaltz) from the top and transfer to a fat separator (if using) or bowl. Refrigerate schmaltz for another use or discard.
Briefly stir the stock. It should be quite gelatinous (like jello) but will liquify when warmed.
To store, gather 3 gallon-size and 4 quart-size freezer bags and fold back the tops forming a collar. Measure and pour 1 quart of stock into each of the gallon-size bags. Fold the collar back up and seal all but about an inch. Carefully lay flat on the counter and allow most of the air to escape before completely sealing. Freeze bags flat like this for easy storage and quick thawing. Repeat with the quart size bags measuring 1 cup of stock for each. You may need more or fewer bags depending on your yield.