At the beginning of the year, I started thinking about the store-bought ingredients I use on a daily basis in my cooking and baking. I focused particularly on the items consuming a large chuck of my grocery bill and brainstormed ways to reduce their cost. For some items, the solution was simply to buy less to ensure minimal waste.
But this solution was not entirely feasible when it came to an ingredient like chicken stock. During the cold winter months, I enjoy throwing together soups and stews a few times each week, sometimes requiring a total of four quarts of chicken stock. At $3.50 a quart, store-bought stock consumed a noticeable portion of my grocery bill, so I decided to try my hand at making a homemade version.
Now on Sunday mornings, I roast a small chicken, then tear the juicy meat from the bones, reserving the meat for upcoming weeknight meals. I place the bones and drippings in my grandfather’s dutch-oven, throw in a few vegetables and seasonings, and the stock simmers away with the afternoon hours. As you might imagine, the flavor of a homemade stock is unmatched, meaning I stretch my stock to last throughout the week, effectively eliminating the cost associated with purchasing store-bought versions.
Homemade Chicken Stock
barely adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child
active time 5 minutes
total time 5½ hours
makes about 2 quarts
This is an adaption on Julia Child’s recipe for a simple meat stock from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I have just barely adapted the recipe to ensure the ingredients fit into my largest pan and I have room to freeze the stock in my apartment-sized freezer. For the winter months, I included a peeled parsnip to add an extra hint of earthiness to the stock.
Carcass and drippings of one roasted chicken
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 medium carrots, peeled
2 medium onions, peeled and halved
2 medium celery stalks
2 medium leeks, washed thoroughly to remove sand
1 large parsnip, peeled, optional
¼ teaspoon fresh thyme
6 parsley sprigs
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
Place the carcass and drippings in large saucepan [note: I use my 4¼-quart Le Creuset, which just barely fits all ingredients] and cover with water. Over medium heat, bring the liquid to a simmer, skim off any scum rising to the surface with a spoon. Continue until scum ceases to accumulate.
Add salt, carrots, onions, celery stalks, leeks, and parsnip to liquid. Tie thyme, parsley, garlic, cloves, and bay leaf in a cheesecloth or place in a mulling ball and add to the liquid. Add more water if the liquid does not cover all ingredients. Bring liquid to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and partially cover the saucepan, leaving a space of about 1-inch for steam to escape. Simmer the liquid for about 5 hours, adding boiling water if liquid evaporates below the level of ingredients.
Turn off heat and allow the stock to settle for 5 minutes. Remove the fat from the surface with a spoon or ladle. Allow stock to cool [note: stock can be placed in refrigerator to cool rapidly] then divide stock among quart containers and freeze.