I usually try to take gorgeous, sexy photos of a recipe geared to scintillate and entice you into wanting to make it. This post is different. Chicken stock, no matter how you photograph it, is not sexy. It just isn’t. It wasn’t meant to be.
Oh, but it CAN be. You need to think of chicken stock (and all other stocks, for that matter) like the little black dress of the culinary world. By itself it might seem plain, but add the right accessories and it becomes absolutely stunning, radiant, gorgeous and, I dare say elegant.
Just like the ultimate outfit, the perfect dish starts with a classic, impeccable base. This stock is that foundation. It helps that it’s a nearly perfect food all on its own, but added to other dishes, it’s the base for perfection.
But why, you ask, should you take the time and effort to make stock at home? The answer is simple.
It’s better than anything you’ll ever get at the market, and it costs about a 5th as much to make as it does to buy.
For example: Stock at my local market is $1.99 to $2.25 for a 32 ounce box. That’s roughly 16 cents per ounce.
The stock pictured above cost me an onion, a carrot, a bay leaf and some salt and pepper. The chicken was used for a meal, so doesn’t count towards the price. That’s $0.48 for the onion, about $0.15 for the celery stalk and carrot and nominal amounts for the bay leaves, salt and pepper. The total (without factoring in water and electricity for simmering the stock) comes to $0.63 cents for the same 32 ounces of stock.
Yep. Sixty-Three cents. That’s jut over two cents per ounce for the same amount of stock. If that isn’t enough of a saving to motivate you into taking a little time out to make your own stock, I’ll let you in on a little secret.
The more you make, the cheaper it gets.
We don’t happen to own a stock pot, so I make my chicken stock in an 8 quart dutch oven. If you own a larger pot, all you have to do is add more water and maybe a bit more aromatics. The rest is up to the chicken and heat. it will still be a far better stock than you can buy at the market.
Now, let me show you how simple this is to make:
- 2 to 3 pounds chicken pieces (or one small whole chicken)
- Water, to cover
- 1 onion, halved
- 1 carrot, roughly chopped
- 1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Put everything in a large pot, pour water over until it just covers all ingredients and bring to a bare simmer.
- Skim any foam that floats to the surface and continue to simmer for at least 45 minutes, or up to three hours. (I stop after about an hour if I'm planning on using the chicken.)
- Remove chicken and allow stock to cool. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and store refrigerated in airtight containers for up to three weeks.
If you want to remove the fat from the stock, simply allow to cool, place in the fridge overnight and then remove the hardened fat from the top of the stock.
What I would have done differently had I thought of it at the time:
For a basic stock, there’s nothing that needs to be done differently, but just like that little black dress, this recipe can cary just about any accessory you throw at it. If you want an Asian flare, add some ginger to the pot. For a spicy stock, drop in a few peppers or increase the amount of pepper. If Middle-eastern is what you crave, toss in some turmeric, paprika or saffron. The choices are endless!
Links to other recipes like this: