Making Chicken Stock - Part II
How To Make Chicken Stock
Go To Making Chicken Stock – Part I: What Is Stock?
Let's keep learning how to make chicken stock.
In Part I of this article, I went over a few details about what chicken stock is. I talked about the difference between chicken stock and chicken broth, and the difference between a brown stock and a white stock.
This part of the article is a bit more practical. I'll go over how to make chicken stock. First, I'll talk about the actual process of making chicken stock. Then I'll go over how to clarify chicken stock once it's made. Finally, I'll talk about how to store it.
Here we go!
How To Make Chicken Stock
Making chicken stock is one of the easiest things to do in a kitchen. You just have to know what to do! In this section, I'll show you how to make chicken stock.
Making chicken stock does take a long time, but you're only actually working for about 15 minutes of that time.
For most of the time the stock is cooking, you can leave it to simmer and go do whatever else you feel like... while enjoying the fantastic smell of cooking stock.
Ingredients and Equipment
The first step of knowing how to make chicken stock is knowing the ingredients and equipment you need. In this section, I'll go over everything you need to make chicken stock.
You might notice that I don't really use any precise measurements here. That's because they really don't matter for making chicken stock! General guidelines are enough for you to know how to make chicken stock.
Here's what you need:
Making Chicken Stock
- One pot, large enough to contain all your ingredients: water, bones, meat, vegetables and seasonings.
- Chicken bones. Anything goes here. If you roasted a chicken and have leftover bones, you can throw them in. Chicken backs, wings, necks, it's all great. Just leave out the liver... it gives the stock a strange color.
- If there's some meat left on the bones, don't worry about it. It'll add flavor. The only important thing when making chicken stock is that bones be the main ingredient in your stock.
- Making a big batch of stock takes just as much time as making a small one. If you want to make more at once, you can freeze chicken bones until you have as many as you want.
- You'll need enough cold water to cover the bones in your stockpot.
- When making chicken stock, the water really must be cold when you start, or the collagen won't melt properly and you won't get any gelatin in your stock.
- The water level should be an inch or so above the level of the bones. That way, the bones are completely covered, but you don't get a watered down stock.
- A few aromatic vegetables can add a lot more flavor and depth to your stock than just chicken bones alone. Carrots, celery, onions, leeks and garlic are all aromatic vegetables that tend to enhance your food's natural flavors rather than adding their own flavor to it.
- Try starting with one carrot, one celery stalk, one large onion and three cloves of garlic for every 2lbs of bones you use. Once you're more comfortable making chicken stock, you can experiment with that ratio.
- Making chicken stock is a great time to use the less attractive vegetables you have lying around in your fridge or pantry - they'll get thrown out when the stock is done anyway.
- Chop the veggies coarsely or not at all. They'll be simmering long enough to get all the flavor and nutrients out, no matter how big the chunks are. There's no need to even peel the onion, since you'll be straining the stock. The peel will even give it a nice golden color! Just make sure it's clean, and toss it in whole.
- You can also add seasonings to your stock, like salt, peppercorns, cloves, ginger, bay leaves... anything you like. But use these sparingly.
- Add seasonings towards the end of the cooking time. The stock will reduce and become more concentrated, so the seasonings might end up overpowering the stock.
- Sometimes, it's best to just keep stock as neutral as possible. Some herbs and spices just don't go well with certain foods. Knowing how to make chicken stock means knowing how to make something delicious, but fairly neutral.
Now that you have all your equipment and ingredients, it's time to put it all together and learn how to make chicken stock.
- Place the chicken bones and vegetables in the pot. Add cold water. The water should be about an inch or two higher than the level of the bones and veggies.
- The bones need to be in there the whole time, but the veggies only need about 3 hours of cooking time, so you could always add them in later. Just do whatever is more convenient for you.
- Bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat so that you obtain the barest simmer. You just want a few little bubbles trickling up to the surface.
- A simmer is the best way to extract collagen from the chicken bones.
- A slow simmer will help any particles to rise to the surface of the water so that you can skim them off, if you want. If you keep a rolling boil going, those particles will stay in the stock and make it cloudy.
- Simmer uncovered for 4 to 6 hours. During the first hour or two, some scum might rise to the surface. You can skim it off if you want, but it's not necessary. Add your seasonings during the last hour of cooking.
- The scum is mostly coagulated albumen that's released from the chicken meat and bones. It's actually not at all bad for you, but it'll make your stock a bit cloudy if you leave it in.
- Make sure the water level is always above the bones and vegetables. If it gets too low, add more boiling water to your stock pot.
- When the stock is done, remove it from the heat. Pour the stock into a large bowl through a colander or strainer lined with cheesecloth.
- Cool the stock uncovered as quickly as possible, then cover and refrigerate.
- A great way to cool down the stock is to place the bowl in a tub of ice-cold water. It'll cool it down much faster than placing the bowl in a bed of ice. It's important that the stock cools quickly to avoid bacteria growth.
- Don't cover the stock while it's cooling! It could turn it sour.
- Don't put the stock in the fridge while it's warm. That amount of heat can make the fridge work too hard and break.
And that's how to make chicken stock!
Well, that's all! Now you know how to make chicken stock!
Clarifying The Chicken Stock
Alright, now you know how to make chicken stock. If you followed the steps in the section above, you have one delicious stock just waiting to be used in all sorts of recipes.
But even if you skimmed it while it was simmering, your stock might be a little bit cloudy.
Clarifying stock means removing all the particles clouding up your stock. You only really need to do this if you're making something that calls for a crystal clear stock, like a consommé or an aspic.
Clarifying stock isn't hard, but it'll add an extra half hour or so of work to your stock making. Still, you need to know how to clarify to know how to make chicken stock for certain special dishes.
Here's how you do it:
- For each 1 to 2 quarts (1 to 2 liters) of stock, beat 1 egg white and 1 crumbled egg shell with 1 cup of cold stock in a bowl large enough to hold all your chicken stock.
- Bring the rest of the stock just to a boil. Slowly pour the boiling stock into the egg white mixture, whisking constantly.
Pour the stock and egg white mixture back into the pot, and bring it to a simmer, whisking constantly.
- It's important to keep stirring until it starts to simmer. If you don't, the egg white could fall to the bottom of the pot and burn, and ruin your stock.
- Once the simmer starts, the upward motion of the bubbles will keep the egg whites from falling, so you can stop stirring.
- Let the stock simmer for 15 minutes. Don't let the stock boil. While the stock is simmering, a thick, white, foamy crust will form. This is just the egg white and shells attracting all the particles that were clouding up your stock. You shouldn't skim it off, but you can gently push it to the side to check that your stock isn't boiling.
- The stock only needs to be hot enough for there to be upward motion in the pot, maybe a few tiny bubbles rising to the surface. This helps all the particles go up and get caught by the egg white crust.
- If the stock gets too hot and boils, all the particles will go crashing back down to the bottom and the stock will stay cloudy.
- Remove the stock from the heat and let it stand for 10 minutes.
- Gently ladle the stock into a large bowl, through a strainer lined with paper towels or a damp kitchen towel. Let it drain completely without disturbing it.
- Let the stock cool completely, uncovered, then cover and refrigerate.
And now you have a beautiful, crystal clear stock! Of course, you don't really need
to do this unless you specifically need clear stock for something.
Still, it's a very cool process, and worth trying out at least once, just for fun. The stock ends up being so pretty, it's like magic!
Storing Chicken Stock
Making chicken stock isn't hard, but it does take a long time. Once you know how to make chicken stock, you might prefer to make it in large batches and then store it. Here are a few ways to store chicken stock.
- Chicken stock will keep in the fridge for about 3 to 4 days. After that, you can boil it for about 15 minutes every 3 days to keep it bacteria free.
- If you're storing stock in the fridge, it's best not to degrease it. The layer of fat will keep the bacteria out, and protect the stock from other flavors in the fridge.
- Once the stock is cold, you can freeze it and use it later. The best way to freeze stock is to split it up into smaller portions that you can use later in sauces or soups.
- Try freezing your stock in ice cube trays and then keeping the stock cubes in a freezer bag, or freezing it in 1 quart (1 liter) freezer bags or other containers.
Well, that's all you need to know about how to make chicken stock! Don't be intimidated by how long it takes, or how long this page is! It's not hard, and well worth the little bit of effort.
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