Homemade chicken stock is a budget-friendly way to elevate your homemade soups! You just need a little time, chicken bones, carrots, celery and onion and that golden elixir is ready to work it's magic.
Strip the chicken carcass of meat: Use your hands to pull and peel the meat off the bones. Transfer the meat to a container and keep in the fridge. Use it in soup, chicken chicken salad, or to top a bed of greens.
Make the stock: Into a large stock pot or Dutch oven add the chicken carcass – bones, skin and any random bits. Add the chopped celery, carrots, onion, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, parsley stems and peppercorns if using.
Cover with water and simmer: Pour 10 cups of cold water over the ingredients in the stockpot and turn the heat to medium, just until it begins to have a low boil, then reduce to medium low (or whatever temp you need to keep the stove at for a gentle simmer). You want the stock to simmer and never boil. Boiling can cause the fat and proteins to emulsify and give you dark, greasy stock.
Skim the stock: Push the ingredients down to make sure they are submerged in the water and let the stock simmer on medium low for the next 3 hours. Check every 45 minutes or so and use a spoon to skim any foam that may form off the surface. This is not an exact science. If you lose track of time, and it simmers for 4 hours that’s Ok. You’ll just have a more concentrated stock and might need to add water. If you’re short on time and you only have 2 hours then you’ll just have a lighter stock. That’s Ok too. There is no room for perfectionists in stock making!
Strain the stock: Layer a fine mesh strainer with cheesecloth. Set it over a large bowl, then ladle the stock into the lined strainer. Press on the solids to release any additional liquid. When it’s done you should have between 5 and 6 cups of stock depending upon how much it has reduced.
Use, store or freeze: Transfer the stock to small containers so it cools down faster. Let it cool completely then cover and transfer to the fridge. Once stock sits in the fridge for a few hours or overnight a fat layer will form on the top. Go ahead and remove that fat layer. The stock will be gelatinous and wobbly when cold. that’s a good thing. Use it within 5 days or freeze it for up to six months.
Short on time? Make chicken stock in the slow cooker. Add all of the ingredients into your slow cooker. Cover with 6 cups of water and turn to high. If you're going to be around in an hour, reduce to low. If not then just set it to low at the outset. Secure the lid and let it bubble away all day while you’re at work or overnight while you’re sleeping. When ready, pour the stock through a fine mesh strainer and cool.
Cheesecloth: I like to use cheesecloth just for an extra layer of straining, but if you don't have any a fine mesh sieve will do just fine all on its own.