We started making our own chicken stock on a whim a few years ago after we’d used a roasted chicken from Safeway for dinner, looked at the carcass, and just figured that it was time. I’d made stock before, and Terry, my mom’s husband, makes his own as well, so it’s something that I’ve been around for a while.
It is SO. FREAKING. EASY.
Over the next few years, we’ve branched out, making beef broth as well, which again, incredibly easy.
Finding soup bones is as simple as talking to the butcher at any grocer, or, even better, find a local butcher and start buying all of your meat there, the quality difference is big.
Cold winter nights at our house often mean home made French Onion soup and a glass of red wine, which was the dish that kicked my ass into gear with making our own beef broth. If you make no other stock at home, and make no other dish with said broth, this is what you need to make. I’m tellin’ ya, the difference will BLOW. YO. MIND.
Chicken stock is where we started, and once we really tasted the difference, we were hooked. We don’t make chicken stock each time we use a roasted chicken from the store (which, btw, if you’re wanting an easy shredded chicken, grab one of the pre roasted birds from your favorite grocery store, use a couple of forks, and pull it apart. Shreds super easy.)
Once you’ve picked off the meat that you want, toss the carcass in a gallon freezer bag, and hang on to them until you’re ready to make more both. They take up almost no space in the freezer, and when you’re ready, you have ’em.
The other way you can go, buy a smaller frozen chicken, unwrap it, and toss it into the pot whole. This route yields a slightly higher fat content in the broth, but the flavor is phenomenal.
Bacon broth, this is a newer one for me, that I made specifically to use in a bacon risotto I was playing around with, and it was a phenomenal win.
Rather than using soup bones, or chicken in whichever form you’ve opted to go with, use a pound or two of uncooked bacon.
Again, either from a butcher, or the butcher counter at your preferred grocery store. For stock, go with the peppered bacon, as the flavor of the pepper adds to it.
The Fine Print
- Whichever iteration you opt to start with, make sure that you have an extra set of hands helping when you go to strain everything through cheesecloth, it can get a little messy.
- When you’re filling the jars, make sure to leave an inch or so of head space so that they don’t crack when you freeze them.
- Buy way more cheesecloth than you think you’ll need.
- It’s ok to add more water in the pot as you go.
- Don’t worry about peeling the veggies, rinse them off, but don’t peel them. The skins add flavor.
The flavor and consistency of home made stock is so far above and beyond anything that you can get in the store. It's so much more flavorful in and of itself, and cooking with it, phenomenal.
Plus, it's super easy to make.
- 1 bunch Carrots
- 1 bunch Celery
- 4 large Yellow Onions
- 6 cloves Garlic, peeled.
- 2 Shallots
- 1 bunch Leeks
- Rind of Parmesan Cheese If you don't have any in your fridge, most cheese counters will sell them to you.
- Whole Chicken/Soup Bones (butcher's carry them)/Pound of Bacon Choose which ever, depending on what kind of broth you're making.
- 3 T Salt
- Cracked Black Pepper
- 1 bunch Flat Leaf Parsley
Chunk up the veggies, don't worry about being too particular on sizing, as they're just going to go into the pot, get cooked down, and then strained out.
Fill a stock pot with water, I go with about 3/4 of the way full, and add more as needed.
Dump all veggies, and which ever protein you're using, in, adding in the salt and pepper.
Simmer stock over medium heat for 12 or so hours, stirring occasionally.
Strain out all solids, I generally pour the broth through a colander into a second stock pot. Make sure that you do this in the sink, as it can get kind of splashy.
Using a ladle, scoop the broth into mason jars, through cheese cloth. Trust me on this one. Not a step you want to skip.
Make sure that you leave an inch or so of head room so the jars don't bust as they freeze.
Once the broth cools it goes into the freezer and you're all done.
Except for washing the stock pots. Not my favorite part.