Chicken Stock Two Ways

It occurs to me that since I keep rhapsodizing about what a difference home-made stock has made to my cooking, I should maybe post a recipe for chicken stock.

I make it two different ways. When I have a roast chicken carcass on hand, I just put the whole thing in the pot along with a chopped onion, a couple of sliced carrots, a couple of sliced celery ribs, one or two peeled (but whole) cloves of garlic, 5-10 peppercorns, and sometimes a star anise. I cover it with water, bring it to a boil, and let it simmer for a couple of hours. This makes a fairly light, delicate stock that is particularly good for things like cooking rice in, or when you just need a cup or so of stock for a pasta recipe or something.

For a thicker, richer stock that is fan-freaking-tastic as a soup base, I start with raw chicken necks and backs (about four pounds) and brown them on both sides in a little cooking oil. This has to be done in batches and takes a little time, but the browning makes the final stock much more flavorful. I also sauté the onion, carrots and celery, and then return the chicken to the pot with the vegetables and let it all “sweat” over medium-low heat for twenty minutes. Towards the end I bring two quarts of water to boil in a second pot, and then add it to the first pot (this is a Cook’s Illustrated trick for cutting down the total cooking time on the stock, but obviously you could also just add cold water and bring it back up to boil). Everything boils for another twenty minutes, and then it can be strained and put in the fridge. After refrigerating overnight, all the fat will form a thick layer on top that can be easily skimmed off with a slotted spoon.

And that’s how I make chicken stock! I know there’s a great art to perfect stock, and would be interested in hearing how any of my foodie friends make theirs—any tips or tricks to share?

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