The general principal behind making chicken stock is pretty basic and most recipes are similar, the main difference I have found is the actual ingredients. Apparently some people have no grocery budget what so ever and are able to use tons of vegetables and whole chickens and then discard those ingredients when they are done. I am not one of those people; I like to make what I consider to be free stock. Making stock is relatively time consuming because the cook time is quite long, it’s not complicated by any means but if I am going to all this trouble it needs to be more advantages then simply purchasing chicken broth on sale at the store. I do this by keeping a gallon size bag in my freezer and putting carrot peels, onion skins, limp celery, potato peels, and any other vegetable scrap that would add flavor. Sometimes I even add apple core because I think it adds depth of flavor, however not every scrap is suitable for making stock. Potato eyes for example are avoided by many people and some scraps may become mushy and become difficult to strain out.
When I am at the grocery store I always check to see if there are any manager specials or super cheap prices on whole chickens. The actual cost of the chicken will vary by region but here I can get a chicken for around 60 cents a pound. I keep them in the freezer and make a batch of stock once a month or so. I usually make the stock on a Sunday and then use part of the stock and a portion of the chicken to make soup the next day. I then take the breast meat, shred it, and make another dinner that week. By making meals with the chicken, the stock itself is a bonus and proof that taking the time to plan really does save money. This recipe is for chicken stock but I also make vegetable, beef and turkey stock using the same method.
Place all the ingredients in a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer and keep cooking for 5 hours. Check the pot after 3 hours and if the liquid reduces below the original amount add more water to replenish. Remove the chicken and place on a cutting board to cool, once it is cold enough to handle remove all the meat and set aside, I usually separate it into soup meat and another container to be used in a second dish and place them both in the fridge. Return the bones to the pot to continue cooking and discard the skin.
Once cooking time has elapsed, turn the stock off and let it cool for 30 minutes. Place a strainer over a large bowl and scoop the solid parts out of the pot, this helps to reduce the splash. Carefully drain the entire pot into the strainer making sure not to overwhelm the strainer; I like to do this in the sink to reduce mess. Once all the stock is strained and in the bowl place the stock in freezer safe containers then place in the fridge to cool and allow the fat to collect on top; meanwhile discard the dry solids. I usually let the stock sit in the fridge over night before skimming the fat and moving to the freezer. In my experience it is best to label with the date, flavor and amount because once they are stacked in the freezer it is very difficult to tell them apart.
Much Love, Aislinn and Emily