Chicken stock is one of the most addicting things you can make, second only to roasting a chicken. I make roast chicken at least once a week because it is cheap, easy, and so fricken good that you find yourself nibbling on the bones and licking the cutting board. Perhaps if you’re very good, dear readers, I will show you a video that my friends and I made while drunk about how to make the most delicious roast chicken you will ever eat.
Actually I haven’t seen the video yet and I will have to screen it before bearing my drunken soul online. It may be that I just end up writing out the recipe ;)
The other amazing thing about roasting a chicken is making stock. SO simple. SO many uses. AND there’s no real wrong way to do it, which makes it practically idiot-proof. All you really have to know is 1) how to boil liquid and 2) what good chicken broth tastes like.
First you need a chicken carcass, preferably fresh. That being said, I’ve used the remains of one of those pre-roasted birds you get for $5 at the grocery store (don’t you judge me) and I’ve used a chicken carcass that I had sitting for in the fridge 3 or 4 days (seriously, stop with the judging). You’re going to boil the hell out of it anyway, so don’t feel guilty if after three bottles of wine and a roast bird later, you’re not really in the mood to do more cooking. I’ve also frozen a carcass for later and that has worked out pretty well. Not QUITE as flavorful, but it works.
First you place the carcass in a stock pot.
Cover the carcass (yes, I admit it, I like writing ‘carcass’) with just enough water to cover it. Sometimes it floats, don’t worry about it.
If you happen to have some celery or carrots, throw those suckers in there too. I like to keep my stock simple because I’m rarely sure of what I’m going to do with it, but if you want to get crazy with herbs and onions, please do. Just remember that whatever you put in your stock, you’re going to be straining the bleached remains of it out, so don’t get too attached and be mindful if you’re using anything with a strong flavor. Edit: My new ingredient staple is about an inch cube of raw ginger. FRICKEN AMAZING.
Because of my particular roast chicken recipe, I don’t usually need to season my stock and I’d actually advise that you shouldn’t anyway — unless, again, you have some sort of divine master plan that requires salty stock. I also caution against garlic cloves (which I NEVER say) because, well . . . I dunno. It kinda just ends up tasting like garlic juice to me. Also lemon. Please don’t put lemon in there or accidentally forget to take out whatever you stuffed the bird cavity with. It sucks.
Once it’s on the stove, I like to bring it to a boil and then turn it down to a healthy simmer. I find that simmering for long periods of time doesn’t blanch the carcass ( :D ) quite so quickly and the simmering allows the flavors to really come out. I also like to leave the lid off so that the water boils down — makes for a richer flavor, in my opinion.
Here is where my instructions will fail you if you need specifics. Honestly, I don’t know how long you should let it simmer. I’m thinking three to four hours-ish. I usually just go about my daily business and check on it now and again to see if it tastes good yet. If the water gets too low, I add more. If I added too much and it now tastes like chicken water, I turn up the heat and let that sucker boil down some more.
How I know it’s done is by one of two methods:
1) The carcass falls apart when you swirl it with the spoon, or
2) More telling, when the chicken and/or vegetables taste like nothing. That’s when you know you’ve boiled the taste out of them (which is the plan, Stan).
The cloudier the broth, the richer the flavor. Avoid chicken water. It’s really awful.
When you’re satisfied with the taste, strain all the tasteless crap out of it and then you can either use the stock immediately or freeze it and use it later.
I like to freeze it in 1-2 cup increments (I write on my tuperware in sharpie, which amazingly comes off, but to be safe you might want to use a dry erase marker. . . or write on tape. You’re clever, you’ll figure it out). Some people do it in ice cube trays, but who the hell only uses an ice cube of stock?
So there you go! One Classy Dame Chicken Stock. Get to work!