Homemade Roasted Chicken Stock

Ever since posting my Roasted Vegetable Stock, I've been meaning to follow it up with a Roasted Chicken Stock recipe. The ingredients are similar but the chicken stock requires a few more considerations because of the fat and bones. Since Thanksgiving (pumpkin pie!) is only 81 days away, it seemed like a good time to make a bucket of stock for the freezer and share my thoughts on the subject.

I asked The Google quite a few questions before making my first batch of chicken stock last year. Should I leave the skin on the chicken? Does celery really make the stock bitter as Thomas Keller suggests? Does good stock have to be gelatinous? I've included some of the helpful information I found under Recipe Tips.

Recipe Tips

Multi-tasking Chicken

I often buy roasted chicken from the store, use the white meat for various meals, and then freeze the carcass (dark meat and skin intact) to use for stock. I just drop the semi-defrosted birds in the pot and go from there - no fuss.

Skin in the Game

As mentioned above, I leave the roasted chicken's skin intact for the stock. Some people on the Interwebs feel that chicken skin adds too much fat to the stock leading to an unpleasant mouthfeel. I can see how raw chicken might do this, but with roasted chicken much of the fat has been rendered. Plus, the crispy skin has a caramelized flavor that's great for depth.

Clouds in my coffee...and stock

The first stock I ever made had a gelatinous quality (yay) and an unpleasant cloudy appearance (boo). There are competing theories as to why chicken stock gets cloudy. Some people suggest that the "green parts" of the vegetables are to blame, while others say that if you cook the vegetables too long they'll "dissolve" into the stock, hence making it cloudy. But are dissolved veggies really a bad thing? My experience has been that disintegrated vegetation is part of what makes braising liquid and turkey drippings so fantastic.

After giving it some thought, my hunch was that if the stock boils (as mine did), the fat and water emulsify. Aside from the fact that my first batch of stock was ugly, the mouthfeel was also way too fatty and slick. I found several articles that confirmed my emulsification theory, and since the Internet only speaks the truth and never spreads misinformation I'm sticking with it. All of that being said, it's very important to not boil or even strongly simmer the stock.

Patience

To get clear-ish chicken stock (mine is translucent), I cover the pot, start my burner on medium, and then work the flame down to medium-low/low. It takes a while for the gentle simmer to get going so I babysit the pot for the first hour. And when I say gentle simmer I mean you should see a few bubbles rise to the top from time to time. That's it. After the first hour I'll occasionally look under the hood but the bubbling seems to stay pretty consistent. UPDATE: While making a batch of stock recently, I measured it a few times with my digital thermometer. The temperature never went much above 180°F.

Gel vs Liquid

The conventional wisdom is that if you cook the stock for a long enough period of time the resulting product will be gelatinous when refrigerated. Apparently this happens because the gelatin in the bones has been sufficiently broken down and extracted by the liquid. While many feel this is the holy grail of chicken stock mastery, it is definitely possible to make outstanding stock that doesn't gel. Generally speaking, the lower, slower, and longer you go the more likely you'll have gelatinous stock if that's what you're going for.

Tools

Shiitake mushroom at Clearwater Farms - Santa Monica Farmers Market

Ingredients for Chicken Stock (makes about 14 cups)

Roasting

  • 5 carrots, peeled, medium chop
  • 2 onions, medium chop
  • 2 medium tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 small head of garlic

Simmering

  • 2 roasted chickens (or 1 large) totaling around 5 pounds Note: As mentioned above in the Recipe Tips section, I use the white meat for other dishes but leave the dark meat and skin intact for the stock.
  • 7 smashed peppercorns
  • 1 onion, medium chop
  • Light green part of 2 leeks, sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 celery stalks, large chop
  • 2 carrots, medium chop
  • 5 ounces shiitake + 8 ounces white mushrooms, stems left on, quartered
  • 8 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives
  • 4 1/2 quarts (18 cups) of cold filtered water UPDATE: You want to make sure the meat is covered with water so add extra if needed. I had to use 21 cups of water with my most recent batch and the flavor was great after 6 hours of cooking.

Instructions

Roasting

  • Move an oven rack to the middle position and heat to 375.
  • Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and then lay a piece of parchment paper on top of that. Note: The parchment paper is important as roasted tomatoes are delicate and tend to stick.
  • Transfer your chopped roasting vegetables (carrots, onions, and tomatoes) to the baking sheet and arrange in a single layer. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, gently toss, and then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Slice about 1/4 inch off the end of your garlic (not the root end) so it looks like this. Leave the skin on to hold the cloves together, rub the garlic with olive oil to prevent burning, and then seal it up in aluminum foil.
  • Roast everything for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the onions and carrots start to caramelize.
  • Remove the veggies and set aside.

Simmering

  • While the vegetables are roasting, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large stock pot over medium heat.
  • Add the onions, leeks, mushrooms, and carrots, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then sauté for about 8 minutes.
  • Add the chives, celery, bay leaves, thyme, roasted veggies, all the roasting juices, chicken, and water.
  • Cover and bring to a very slow simmer over medium heat, then reduce to medium-low/low and leave covered. See "Recipe Tips". Note: As I've already mentioned 20 times, don't let the mixture boil. Also, it's worthwhile to check on the stock periodically after you've adjusted the temp to medium-low or low. UPDATE: While making a batch of stock recently, I measured it a few times with my digital thermometer. The temperature never went much above 180°F.
  • Cook partially covered for 6 hours.Note: If you've done things correctly, a spoonful of the liquid will be clear with some globules of fat floating about. I've not found it necessary to skim the stock during the cooking process when working with roasted chicken.
  • Remove the large chicken pieces and then strain the stock into a bowl, gently pressing the veggies to extract the liquid.
  • Let the stock cool.
  • At this point you can skim off any fat, strain the broth through cheesecloth, and either freeze or store in the refrigerator. Note: I prefer to refrigerate the cooled stock overnight so that the fat particles solidify at the top. Then I skim off the fat, strain the stock through cheesecloth, and freeze.

Storage

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days or freeze for future cooking. If you store the stock for more than a day and then decide to freeze it, bring the liquid to a boil first to kill any bacteria that may be making a home.

Related Posts