I cannot bring myself to toss a chicken carcass after it has been picked clean. You do roast chicken, right? Of course you do. Do you make stock the easy way? I make simple overnight chicken stock: it takes time, but almost no effort.
You might think it’s difficult – but that’s far from the truth. Really, if you can boil water, you can … yes, you’ve heard that before, but I really mean it; it is as simple as boiling water – because, really, that’s what you do. In the aftermath of a roast chicken dinner, I prepare to make stock overnight. For one chicken carcass, I use an 8 quart stockpot, or for a BIG batch, 2 birds, I’ll use a 12 quart pot.
In the shortest form, put the chicken carcass – skin, bones, and all – in a big pot. Add some vegetables and/or vegetable scraps, some herbs, and a lot of water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for a long time.
I’ll discuss canning (or freezing) the stock in another post. — UPDATED: here’s the post on canning or freezing chicken stock.
My process goes like this: roast a chicken (or two), have a lovely supper. Afterward, pull all the chicken off the bone. Put the carcass, wing tips, and skin in a big pot. Add vegetables and possibly saved veggie scraps. Fill with water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to the lowest simmer my stove burner will maintain, and leave it to simmer all night long. In the morning, I’ll strain the stock and let it cool, and toss all the used bits in the trash.
Once chicken stock has been chilled for a day or two, the fat will have risen to the top and solidified. I can pull off that solidified fat, and then either can or freeze the stock. This process takes some time, but every step is easy.
If you do not wish to can the stock, then I would suggest that you remove the solidified fat, and then bring the stock to a boil again, and reduce it by about half. If you must freeze stock, why not concentrate it? Reduce to a manageable volume, cool the stock, and package conveniently.
Overnight Chicken Stock
- skin, bones, and pan juices of a roasted chicken (or 2)
VEG PER CHICKEN CARCASS
- 2 stalks celery
- 2 large carrots
- 1 large onion
- 1 large bay leaf
- stalks from 1 bunch parsley, plus a few leaves too
- 1 tsp salt
- 4-5 peppercorns
- For one chicken carcass, use an 8-quart stockpot. For 2 chickens, use a 12-quart pot.
- Remove any lemon or herbs from chicken cavity. Put carcass in the stockpot. Add any skin, bones, wing tips, miscellaneous icky bits, and any pan juices. I often add the wings (nobody here likes the little flats).
- Put 2-3 cups of water into the roasting pan, bring it to a boil, and scrape up any baked-on bits. This goes into the stockpot too.
- Add vegetables: you can use scraps and peelings saved during the week. I don’t put cabbage or its cousins in the stockpot, but just about anything else goes. Leek greens are especially good to use.
- Take 2 stalks celery, leaves and all, hack them into 4-5 inch lengths, and toss them in. Take 2 large carrots, unpeeled of course, and split them lengthwise. Cut them in half and in they go. Cut the root end off a large onion, but do not peel it, unless of course the peel is sandy or dirty. Chop it into quarters and add to the stockpot. Add a bay leaf, and if you have any parsley, the stalks are best used in stock (save the leaves for another use.)
- Add the herbs you’re using – at minimum, I use one or two bay leaves and some peppercorns. Add 1 tsp salt and fill the pot with water, up to an inch from the top, completely covering the chicken and vegetables.
- Bring the pot to a rolling boil, and then turn down the heat to the bare minimum possible. The liquid should emit only an occasional bubble and maintain a gentle simmer. I leave the stockpot to simmer all night long. It looks fairly awful, but the whole house smells wonderful, with the promise of good soup.
- By the morning, it looks terrible, with various unappetizing floating bits. Don’t worry, this is perfectly normal, and you won’t be eating that stuff anyway – all the goodness has gone into the liquid. Spoon out as much of the debris as you can into a heatproof bowl or pan, and let it cool, before bundling it into the trash.
- Strain the stock through a medium-mesh strainer into another pot or storage container – expect up to 4 quarts per chicken used. I don’t aim for perfect clarity in my stock – as I have said before, I’m a rustic cook, not a perfectionist. Let the stock stand at room temperature, uncovered, for an hour, and then cover it and chill thoroughly. Since I live in Michigan, during the winter my garage is my walk in cooler (if not a freezer) and I have a special cold shelf where I will put the covered container. By the next morning, the fat will rise to the top and solidify, making it easy for me to remove it.
- If you do not wish to can the stock, then I would suggest that you remove the solidified fat, and then bring the stock to a boil again, and reduce it by about half. If you must freeze stock, why not concentrate it? Reduce to a manageable volume, cool the stock, and package conveniently.