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20 Feb

How to Make a Rockin’ Chicken Stock

In a number of our recent recipe posts, we’ve talked about using chicken stock. As such, we figured it was time to dish up our favorite recipe, as well as provide you, dear reader, with some more information about this healthy kitchen staple.

First, the recipe:

Ingredients:
4 to 5.5 pounds of meaty chicken bones (backs, necks, breast bones)
2 gallons of cold water (or enough to cover chicken pieces)
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 stalks of celery, coarsely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 bay leaves

Method:
In a large stockpot, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 3 hours (essentially, the longer you simmer it, the more intense the flavor), adding water as needed to keep ingredients submerged. Strain stock into a clean pot or heatproof plastic container and discard solid ingredients. Let cool and refrigerate overnight. In morning, skim solidified fat from the top and re-refrigerate until ready to use. Immediately prior to use, bring stock to a gentle boil. Makes about 12 cups.

And now on to the question and answer portion of our program. The following is a list of answers, fun facts and tips about making the perfect chicken stock.

What’s the difference between chicken stock and chicken broth?

Although often used interchangeably, there are a few subtle (and not so subtle) differences between the two. Chicken stock is typically made out of the bonier parts of the chicken, whereas chicken broth is made from meatier parts and actual pieces of chicken. If you really want to get technical however, it should be noted that the two actually react differently during cooking, with stock being able to stand in for cream or butter when making sauces. As such, chicken stock is higher in calories and fat than its broth counterpart.

Why do you use cold water in chicken stock recipes?

As followers of the Primal diet, you know that there is a big emphasis on protein. The reason for the cold water? On a chemical level, it actually promotes the extraction of protein, helping to up the nutrient quotient of the stock.

I’ve heard you shouldn’t boil stock…any thoughts?

The beauty of the internet is that there are a ton of available resources. The drawback to the internet is that there are a ton of available resources. As such, there is a lot of back and forth regarding whether you should bring the stock to a boil. Those who supported it say it is necessary to get all the flavors to mingle, while critics contend that it would make for a cloudy stock. Provided you’re not some sort of clear food fanatic, we say go for the boil.

To skim or not to skim… that is the question.

And here is your answer: As you’re bringing the stock to a boil, you’ll notice that a froth forms on the top. Some chefs recommend that you skim it off, while others contend that it’ll do you no harm to leave it on. Since we’re talking about dealing with boiling liquids, our vote is that you skip this step. There’s nothing damaging in the froth, so why risk the burn?

Hmmm…using the scraps? So it’s cost efficient?

Why yes it is – if you’re looking to stretch a dollar (and these days, who isn’t?) making your own chicken stock is the perfect way to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth from your favorite chicken dinner! Interested in learning more about how to stretch your Primal food dollar? Check out our recent Everything but the Squeal post.

Wow, 12 cups! Can I store it?

Chicken stock will keep well in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. However, it also keeps well in the freezer for up to three months. One popular way to freeze chicken stock is to use an ice cube tray – it allows you to save approximately 1 oz servings of the stock and, once frozen, they can be dumped out into a zip-top bag (which takes up less room than bulky plastic containers!) If you’re looking for a greater quantity, you could also try freezing the stock in muffin trays or small loaf tins. Don’t have the freezer space? Well, chicken stock can also be canned – just be sure to follow safe canning practices to ensure freshness. Again, however you chose to store it, just be sure to bring it to a gentle boil before use.

But still, 12 cups…what can I make with chicken stock?

Yes, it’s a large quantity, but the reality is, there are literally endless uses for chicken stock. The first that springs to mind is probably as a foundation for soups – essentially, it’s just a really great way to add flavor and some oomph to soup recipes. To that end, chicken stock can also be used as a base in casseroles, stews, and curries. Want to add flavor to a roast dinner? Baste the meat with chicken stock – it will enhance the “chickenyness” as well as introduce the herbs and spices used in the original stock. Or use it as a base for gravy. In addition, the stock can be used to sauté vegetables or as a base in stir fry recipes (subbing in for oil or butter, wine or any other liquids); not only will this add some serious flavor, but the stock also almost completely evaporates during cooking so you can say sayonara to soggy veggies!

Can chicken stock be substituted for chicken broth in recipes?

Although they start out with pretty similar ingredients, at the very basic level, chicken stock refers to an ingredient, where as chicken broth is something that can be consumed, as is, if you so choose. It should be noted, however, that if a recipe calls for chicken broth and you only have chicken stock on hand, you can use it as a substitute, you’ll just want to cut it with water to create a broth.

If you have any chicken stocking-making tips, or recipe ideas for stocks or broths please share them in the comment boards!

Further Reading:

Make Your Own Primal Energy Bar

How to Make Dried Fruit

10 Delicious DIY Salad Dressings

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You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. This looks like an awesome start to a great Jewish chicken soup! I usually use a leek and a parsnip in mine too, and its awesome!

    Mara @ What's For Dinner? wrote on February 20th, 2009
  2. i use the carcasses of those roasted chickens you can buy in the market for a couple bucks. i usually save up 2 or 3, and dump them into my big slow-cooker, fill with water, and leave on high for about 8 hours. then i strain the stock and put it in a giant bowl in the fridge to get the fat solidify on top. skim off the fat, pour it into freezy containers and keep them in my freezer for soups, stews, etc. and any stock that doesn’t fill a freezy container, i do the ice cube tray thing. i couldn’t cook without this stuff!

    susteph wrote on February 20th, 2009
    • So glad I read this, I was wondering how I could do it in my slow cooker, So thanks for posting this. :)

      Anna wrote on December 7th, 2013
  3. I like it, can I do same with steak bones?

    Gus wrote on February 20th, 2009
  4. great recipe… as usual. thanks!

    Holly wrote on February 20th, 2009
  5. It is actually far more nutritious for you to simmer it bordering on the 12-24 hour mark, the bones break down and soften further, releasing many of their yummy nutrients into the stock. It can take some time for the marrow to leach out of the bones unless you crack them beforehand. You’ll find that this will make a very gelatinous broth/stock whatever and extremely flavourfull.

    I’ve done the same with beef bones, only have done so for much longer. The results are very worth it. But stinky.

    This is how our ancestors made stocks from animal carcasses – in our modern, fast food age we want to do things fast. This is something else that, over the years has been altered for the sake of saving time.

    I store mine frozen in the smaller ziploc freezer bags, but I lay them down on cookie sheets to freeze, then stand them up for storage.

    I get really excited when I cook a turkey, I actually don’t even let the bird cool before I start to strip the bird for the stock pot.

    Hands down, I make the BEST soup on the planet. Ok, in my family.

    Jennifer wrote on February 20th, 2009
  6. I make chicken stock at least every two weeks and we use 3-4 quarts of it up in those two weeks. I make mine in the crock pot overnight, so it’s super easy.

    http://www.nourishingdays.com/?p=967

    I also freeze onion and celery trimmings when I chop vegetables. Then I add those to the stock instead of having to use extra onions and garlic.

    Shannon wrote on February 20th, 2009
  7. I just started making my own stock and love it. I like to roast a chicken every few weeks and use the carcass for my stock. Last time I used half of the stock to make homemade chicken soup (based on the recipe found here). I just finished up the soup last night.

    I love the idea of taking a chicken and making a variety of meals: the original roast chicken, chicken salad, chicken broth, chicken soup. It seems so Primal Mother. Hey, it seems special to me — when growing up I only believed that soup came from a Campbell’s can.

    I picked up some grass-fed beef neck bones and want to make a beef broth. There’s got to be a way to make a good pot of French Onion soup with the broth.

    Erin in Flagstaff wrote on February 20th, 2009
  8. You can also add about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in the beginning to help get more minerals out of the bones. I second the idea to simmer the stock for 12-24 hours…I usually bring mine just to a boil on the stove and transfer it to a slow cooker for 18 hours. Also, don’t forget the chicken feet for more gelatin! You can usually find these at Asian or international grocery stores.

    Also, I’ve been taking the used bones (when you cook them long enough, they become soft), grinding them in my food processor, and adding it to the homemade dog food I make my pups.

    katherine wrote on February 20th, 2009
  9. I’ve got four important additions (2 of which previous comments brought up, but which should really be reiterated).

    If you want the MOST nutrient-dense broth possible — the kind our ancestors ate, then you need to:

    1) Cook the stock much longer. The 12-24 hour range is best. This can be done in a slow cooker if keeping your stove on that long makes you nervous.

    and

    2) Add something slightly acidic to it like vinegar or a squeeze of lemon.

    These two changes will help leach the all important minerals, vitamins, and gelatin out of the bones — all the things you need to promote your own joint health.

    3) Save the fat that you skim off the top after refrigeration! That’s some valuable, flavorful fat that you can use to make your vegetables and other dishes tastier. Remember, a number of essential vitamins are fat soluble, so you get the most out of your vitamin-rich roasted broccoli if you slather it in some sort of animal fat like butter or (in this case) rendered chicken fat.

    4) Be sure to only make stock from pastured/wild/organic hens. This is because animals (including us) use fat and marrow to store toxins. So, if you’re making this from a chicken that’s been pumped full of hormones and antibiotics, that nastiness is most concentrated in the bones and fat — precisely the ingredients for your stock.

    FoodRenegade wrote on February 20th, 2009
  10. Don’t peel the onion or the garlic, just throw them in with skins on. It will add some color and richness to the stock.

    Also, if you a worried about too large a volume to store, you can just reduce the stock after you strain it. That 12 quarts will be 6 quarts in no time. Just make sure you remember it’s been reduced, because it will be STRONG!

    Someone mentioned feet, but if you can’t find them, then necks will add some gelatin as well. And I think it is a good idea to roast the bones first, the flavor is much more intense, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the good stuff in the bones is released easier.

    Oh, and I also agree with the previous posts about time. I usually go for 18 hrs or so. I know some people worry that if you simmer for too long (say over 12 hrs) the stock gets greasy, but I’ve never made a batch of stock I didn’t like…

    J Mando wrote on February 20th, 2009
  11. The cheapest meats are bone-in. I pay $140-$1.80 a pound for chicken and poultry thighs and legs, about the same price as bony necks and backs. One pound yields approximately half a pound of meat. Turkey is meatier and thus a more economical buy. One gets broth or stock and meat for less than the cost of boneless cuts.

    Tossing everything in the pot is the easiest method. However, baking the pieces in the oven, pulling off the meat, and tossing the crispy skin and bones in the pot makes a more flavorful stock.

    I have consumed stock and meat that has been refrigerated as long as five days without any hint of digestive problems. I keep my refrigerator very cold and the layer of fat at the top of the stock jar is supposed to keep it fresher longer.

    Sonagi wrote on February 20th, 2009
  12. Chinese medicine advocates broth made from pork neck bones. These have plenty of meat on them as well. Bring to boil, skim froth, add a couple of chopped red onions, a couple of cloves garlic, cloves, bayleaf, 1 habanero pepper sliced open, peppercorns, juniper berries, allspice berries, annato seeds, and salt. A great preventive that works on many levels. It has loads of flavour. I heat up a really big mug of this after work. Or even at lunchtime. It’s sustaining stuff. If you add more habanero peppers, it’ll blow your ears out! LOL!

    gkadar wrote on February 20th, 2009
  13. Jennifer, YES, so true. I don’t bother adding anything to mine other than water. I boil the
    %^&* out of it and can it. (Pressure cooker, 10 lbs pressure, refer to Ball Blue Book for times.) The herbs from the carcass already add flavor and I add more stuff when I cook with it, depending on what I’m making. Carcasses of forest grouse, quail, doves, pheasant and turkey make great stock, too.

    Danielle T wrote on February 20th, 2009
  14. my stock making hints:

    -Always use cold water
    -never stir your stock, or it’ll be cloudy
    -don’t boil it, use a slow simmer (at least thats where i stand on this apparent issue)
    -Collect your gnawed-on bones in a large freezer bag. After you have a few chickens worth, use them all in your stock. (they are cooking for hours so no worries about gnawed on bone germs) Throw some pork or lamb bones in for fun if you have them.
    -to strain the soup and have it come out clear and amazingly delicious, LADLE the soup out of the pot from the top down & through a strainer into another container(s). Don’t just turn the pot over and dump it all through the strainer… that makes it a cloudy mess. After you have ladled all the clear golden stock out, you can press and strain what liquid you can’t reach with the ladle into a different container. Clear golden chicken stock made like this is so phenomenal tasting that it is worth the extra 2 minutes of effort.

    inka wrote on February 20th, 2009
  15. I will have to start doing this. Just last night, I roasted a chicken and threw away the carcass. Dang.

    Matt wrote on February 21st, 2009
  16. Jewish Penicillin

    can also be done with rabbits, pheasant and other game

    Trinkwasser wrote on February 24th, 2009
  17. Please UNsubscribe us. VEGAN here…….

    m. j. williams wrote on February 25th, 2009
    • Oh man, will you regret that in later life…

      ces wrote on September 5th, 2011
  18. stumbled into a steakhouse for dinner by accident, eh?

    Danielle T wrote on February 25th, 2009
  19. Gus, I have been reading some info about boiling the bones. It seems if you save up and put your bones in a slow cooker for 12+ hours and save the stock it’s supposed to be as good for your joints as glucosamine and condroitin. A Dr. Williams claims that if you also boil your egg shells with it that membrain inside the shell really boosts the joint support.

    John Seifert wrote on February 26th, 2009
  20. Oven stock. Use your biggest oven save stock pot, put your chicken bones in, your chopped veggies (don’t remove onion skins), and put in the oven at 275 for 8-ish hours. When you boil a big pot of stock on the stove, you cook what’s at the bottom more than the top. When you do it in the oven, you have a constant, even source of heat and the stock simmers slowly and evenly. Boiling won’t hurt the flavor, but it will break up the proteins and cause cloudy, possibly “grainy” stock. Simmering slowly gives you a clear, smooth stock, which is more important if you’re making a soup that needs the clarity.

    Kara wrote on February 26th, 2009
  21. Thanks for the stock recipe and tips! Here’s mine, for anyone who would like to check it out.

    http://vesnavuynovich.blogspot.com/2008/01/chicken-stock.html

    I definitely subscribe to the 12+ hour school of simmering. Homemade stock — once you try it, you’ll never go back to canned or boxed. For beef stock tips plus a funny story, see:

    http://vesnavuynovich.blogspot.com/2008/02/real-dogs.html

    Vesna wrote on January 2nd, 2010
  22. does anyone have a good vegetarian stock and soup recipe for my veggie husband? i tried to make one last night and it just tasted like garlic, it had no flavor. maybe I didn’t get the spices quite right?

    kim wrote on July 11th, 2010
  23. I am fortunate to have a Russian supermarket around the corner from me that has very interesting cuts of meat.

    They sell chicken feet, necks and hearts. The price is very cheap.

    Could I make a stock simply using those cuts?

    GadgetBoy wrote on September 26th, 2010
  24. re: to boil or not to boil

    the opaqueness (cloudiness) of the stock is caused by amino acids (i.e protein).

    andrew wrote on October 22nd, 2010
  25. @Gadget Boy, Yes! I think it’s Sally Fallon who recommends using the feet (like the Jewish ladies do.) Necks and hearts too – though I’d consider eating the hearts separately.

    What I don’t understand is this: if fat is good for us, why the recommendation to skim it off? I keep it on and add a bit when I reheat it.

    Nan wrote on November 1st, 2010
    • I’m with you. I leave the fat in the stock. Why remove all that lovely flavour and goodness?

      Gordon wrote on September 24th, 2011
  26. Making chicken stock every few weeks becomes a habit, because once you get used to it, you’ll NEVER go back to cubes or boxes! Freeze all leftover chicken bones from several meals, and buy extra necks and feet to add. I then follow the “Nourishing Traditions” recipe, soaking with a little vinegar for an hour before simmering. I skim the froth but leave in the delicious, nutritious fat, and cook it for about 18 hours (you can leave it on the stove overnight and continue cooking the next morning). You can always thin later with water, but it takes up less room in the freezer concentrated. Freeze in glass containers, not plastic, if you want to avoid chemicals leaching into your healthy stock!

    Sarabeth wrote on November 6th, 2011
  27. If you have access to a good Chinese supermarket (like 99 Ranch) you can buy “wild chicken” carcasses. Their “wild chicken” is different than mass market chicken – the bones are hard and sharp when broken instead of being and soft, mealy; the meat has a pinkish hue and the birds are a bit more sinewy. While traveling to SE Asia I see this marketed as “native chicken” and can see the little buggers running around the grounds in some restaurants (usually killed to order).

    In any event, these are a great starting point. I usually mix with pork bones, in the Chinese style, and add green onion. If staying with the Chinese stock, sliced, peeled and smashed ginger is added, along with white pepper and Shiao Shing wine (you can substitute Dry Sherry in a pinch). Want a more neutral flavor, just omit the ginger and wine.

    Another variation, is to take the bones and slow roast them at low heat in the over before making stock. Chicken carcasses, any combination of veal/pork/beef bones all respond well to this method, which is typical in French cooking. This makes a darker more deeply and complex flavored stock.

    Il Mostro wrote on November 18th, 2011
  28. This recipe really rocks! This will go well with most of the things I like in chickenbrothrecipes.com.

    Nica wrote on December 23rd, 2011
  29. I’m at a loss to understand why you say stock is higher in calories than broth “because it can stand in for butter in sauces.” If the stock is skimmed – as the French always do – the “mouth feel” and texture that you get from the stock is a result of the gelatin leaching out of the bones. And I’m scratching my head to understand why that would add calories.

    I think you’re right on abt. broth including the meaty bits, but it seems to me that the calories must be mostly from the fat, which would be the same on either stock or fat if you do (or don’t) defat before using.

    If you’re making a sauce you usually don’t want the extra fat if you’re not making a gravy.

    I do keep and use the fat, but sometimes in other dishes — just used left over chicken fat in my polenta, for example.

    Still wondering, though, how many calories there really are in standard (defatted) broth or stock.

    Hayden wrote on January 11th, 2012
  30. Hello There. I discovered your blog the usage of msn. This is a really well written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and come back to learn more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely comeback.

    investing wrote on April 15th, 2012
  31. Hi,

    I was wondering if it is necessary to pre-boil fresh bones to get the bloody stuff or froth out before simmering it into a stock? Many chinese soup recipes call for that as a way to “clean” the bones?

    Teresa wrote on July 23rd, 2012
  32. discard solid ingredients? does that include the boiled chicken?
    also, can i use chicken wings instead of a whole chicken?

    crossfitter wrote on August 2nd, 2013
  33. oops, sorry i just realized that the recipe called for chicken bones not a whole chicken or chicken parts.

    crossfitter wrote on August 2nd, 2013
  34. Making some stock right now. In one big pot are all the necks, hearts and gizzards from my home grown red ranger chickens and the other pot is the carcasses from the same red ranger birds that I cut parts from (for grilling). The meat that comes off the carcass will turn into a meat type pie. I try and use every little bit up from all my hard work.

    Vickie wrote on August 23rd, 2013
  35. I freeze my stock into ice cubes and then throw 3-5 into blender with the gazpacho. Really good.

    Apple Core wrote on October 10th, 2013
  36. What also gives an awesome flavor to your chicken stock is adding a little Mace (the dried lacy membrane from around the nutmeg seed). Some Thyme and Rosemary and my (not so) secret ingredient is Marmite.

    As for veggies, i also like to add celery root.

    I don wonder how many carbs are in chicken stock?!

    Kiki wrote on January 31st, 2014

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