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:

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

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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