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  • Chicken Stock Newbie Here

    OK so I roasted my first chicken recently and saved all the bones and what not from the carcass.

    I've also been saving all my vegetable trimmings, like the greens from radishes and beets, celery and carrot pieces, etc.

    From my understanding, I can throw all of this into a crock pot, fill with water, add some (1/2 cup?) vinegar and let it heat for 12 hours or so. Afterwards, just pour through a sieve to strain out the solid pieces. That's how to make chicken stock.

    My questions:
    1) Do I have the procedure correct?
    2) How much water should I use to make stock from the carcass of 1 roasting chicken?
    3) Any salt or anything else needed? I notice store-bought bullion is mostly salt.

    There are a few recipes in the PB Cookbooks that require chicken stock, and I have a borcht recipe I've been meaning to try that also wants chicken stock.

    I've never done it before, so any tips to make this experiment "idiot proof" (hey, that's me) would be appreciated. Thanks!

  • #2
    You got it: simmer bones in weakly acidic water for hours, then strain out solids. You'll want to skim the foam that forms (affects the taste), and no need to salt.

    I have not to this date found a standard amount of water to be used for stockmaking, other than "enough to cover everything". That usually ends up being a lot of water since bones don't stack very efficiently, so the next step after simmering for however long you're doing it (12-48 hours for poultry, usually) is to reduce the strained stock to about a pint per pound of bones. At that point you're about ready to use it in whatever you want: soups, reduced for sauce, added to shredded meat to add moisture and flavor, the list goes on.

    You'll probably want to de-fat the stock. Why? Stock is an ingredient and there will be times you don't want to add fat along with for textural or taste reasons. Just chill the stock and separate the hardened fat, and store it in a separate container to use later. A basic stock isn't seasoned with salt, herbs, or spices for the same reasons, you want to maintain the versatility. You can always add them later, but you can't take them out once in -- this is especially important when you're e.g. reducing stock down to a sauce, all of a sudden the salt and spices just got concentrated more than 10x.

    If you've got the time, go ahead and let it simmer for more than just 12 hours, the taste (and nutrition) will be better. Just keep topping the water up whenever it goes below the level of the bones.

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    • #3
      Stocks are very forgiving, because basically anything is more tasty than the plain water you started with. But it can get pretty complicated when you start trying to aim for just the right taste, clarity and consistency.

      Stocks can be made in less time by using a pressure cooker, and by increasing the surface area by dicing the ingredients finely (but not so fine you can't sieve them out). That includes breaking up the bones as much as you can.
      "Thanks to the combination of meat, calcium-rich leaf foods, and a vigorous life, the early hunter-gatherers were robust, with strong skeletons, jaws, and teeth." - Harold McGee, On Food And Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen

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      • #4
        1/2 cup of vinegar is too much - just a couple tablespoons will do. You don't want it to taste like vinegar!

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        • #5
          OK everyone, thanks for the tips! This sounds easy enough that even I can do it. I'll start the stock now in the crock pot and then go to bed.

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          • #6
            Easy with the greens. If it's things like stems it should be fine, but if they're leafy greens then boiling them for a long long time will make the stock bitter. If you want to add greens only do so for the last half hour or so.

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            • #7
              I regularly make my own chicken stock. Some tips:

              -Start with cold water, never hot.

              -Add some herbs and spices: A bayleaf, a few peppercorns, a few whole allspices, a couple sprigs of thyme, rosemary and parsley. Stud the onion you are putting in the stock with a clove.

              -For vegetables, I limit myself to a couple carrots, couple stalks of celery, a few garlic cloves and an onion. Remember it's a stock, not a trash can Beet and radish greens are likely to add some funky tastes to the stock so I would avoid them. Leak tops and mushroom stems on the other hand make great additions.

              -If you have live near any Asian stores, see if they have any chicken feet. Get a few, halve them and add them to the stock. They will add an amazing amount of gelatin.

              -Hack up larger chicken bones a bit so that the marrow can easily leech out into your stock.

              -I use just enough water to cover. Simmering for as long as possible is ideal but I've had good results even after a 2-3 hour simmer.
              My food blog, with many PB-friendly recipes

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              • #8
                Looking through this to see if there's anything I'd add... don't think so. Not too much vinegar, or use lemon juice instead of vinegar. Delia suggests fresh parsley stems - can't hurt. I typically also add a piece of kombu, as I assume lots of minerals will leech out. Put it all in the slow cooker for around 24 hours.

                If you had a bag of raw chicken bones from the butcher, would you roast them before using them for stock?

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                • #9
                  Roasting the ingredients (meat products etc) always makes the stock richer in taste. Don't forget some unrefined sea salt for the minerals it provides .

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                  • #10
                    Another possibility for the acid if you're worried about it tasting like vinegar is wine.

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                    • #11
                      I just started some stock in the crockpot last night and didn't realize I needed to add vinegar or lemon juice. Is it too late to go ahead and add it now and let the stock keep cooking for another 24 hours? I threw in a whole chicken carcass and an onion and some garlic cloves, and then I added the vegetable waste I collected while making soup the other night (ends of celery, ends of zuchinni, and the three outermost leaves of a head of green cabbage). Should I have skipped the cabbage leaves (and/or the zuchinni ends)?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Classic View Post
                        Roasting the ingredients (meat products etc) always makes the stock richer in taste. Don't forget some unrefined sea salt for the minerals it provides .
                        Maybe salt it when you use it? If you salt it and then want to boil it down afterwards, it'll be massively salty.

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                        • #13
                          I've never added vinegar or anything acidic to my stocks, which I make at least once every 2 weeks. Is this a new thing? Also, don't worry if you can't simmer it for a billion years. I've done fine with one hour (on the stovetop, not in a crockpot), and that produces a nice, gelatinous stock that solidifies in the fridge. If you don't have any veggies, just simmer the carcass plain. Also, I never add salt, just because you usually add salt to whatever dish you're making with the stock, so there's no need to pre-salt the stock, just in case you're gonna mix it in with something that's already salted.

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                          • #14
                            Whenever I roast a chicken, or chicken parts, I save all the juice and fat that collects at the bottom in a container in the fridge, and save the bones and carcass scraps in a big ziplock in the freezer (I keep adding to the bag until I have enough leftover bits to make a good stock, then it's like a ready-to-go stock kit). The next day, the fat and gelatin will be handily separated. Toss the fat or separate it and use it for cooking/eating if you like it. The leftover gelatin is like a stock concentrate, and can be added to anything you'd otherwise use bullion in, or thrown into the main stock for soup enhancement.

                            It's hard to eff up a chicken stock. Just throw in whatever you like. I typically stick with the chicken parts, a splash of ACV, a bunch of celery leaves, bayleaf/peppercorn/basil/oregano, a carrot or two, and tons of garlic. For me this works out well as a good base that I can use as a starting point for pretty much anything.
                            “Falconry is not a hobby or an amusement; it is a rage. You eat and drink it, sleep it and think it. You tremble to write of it, even in recollection. It is as King James the First remarked, an extreme stirrer up of passions.” --T.H. White, The Godstone and the Blackymor

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