There’s something so homey to me about the smell of a roasting or boiling chicken. Growing up, my mom always made her own stock; I can only remember a time or two when she bought it. Now, I see why: chicken stock is easy and there’s very little hands-on time involved.The first step to a good soup, stew, casserole, or gravy is quality stock. And it’s so simple, even Bella (who will be three in October) knows the ingredients.
Homemade Chicken Stock
When the stock is finished, it will be a beautiful, rich golden color. The carrots, onion, and celery will be flimsy; the meat will be tender. I ALWAYS allow my stock to cook for 24 hours. I get the richest stock when it cooks this long. It’s also fun waking up to a house that smells like chicken.
Refrigerate the broth until the fat has solidified on the top; carefully skim off all of the fat. You can toss it the compost pile, feed it to your animals, or save it to cook with. I’m saving mine for test batches of soaps and candles. (Who knew you could make soap and candles from chicken fat?!)
Remove all of the meat from the chicken and store for later use. I “shred” mine and freeze it on cookie sheets for two hours, then remove it and place it in a container or bag. This gives me shredded chicken that is easily separated. It’s handy for those times when I need a fast lunch for just me and Bella but I don’t want to thaw all of the chicken. I use the shredded chicken for soups, casseroles, sandwiches, and salads.
If you want to get the most broth possible out of one chicken, you can cook the carcass of your chicken. I do this every chance I get. Place the chicken carcass, 2 quarts of water, 3 carrots, 1/2 onion, and 3 stalks of celery in a stock pot. Follow the above directions. The broth won’t be as dark, but it will still be better than store-bought. From the first batch of stock I made, I ended up with three quarts of stock. I had just over one quart for the second batch.
I freeze my chicken stock in quart sized bags. I am working towards using glass jars rather than plastic bags. This will mean less waste, and there’s less money involved and no nasty things close to my good stock. You could also can your stock. Simply Canning gives a great step-by-step to canning your own chicken broth and stock. (Note: Simply Canning’s recipe for stock/broth requires more water than mine. Using less water while cooking your chicken gives a more concentrated broth that can be “watered” down for later use. Also, I like my broth to be heartier than store-bought broths.)