Chicken Stock & Chicken Broth
Stock is the cornerstone of good cooking. It is easy to make and will leave your kitchen smelling great. Few dishes are more ecological – stock enables you to recycle otherwise unusable vegetable scraps and bones. Besides, most canned chicken broth is loaded with sodium and it can’t touch the flavor of homemade stock.
Many people are intimidated by the idea of making stock, but nothing could be easier. There are really only two things you need to remember. First, after the initial boiling, gently simmer the stock and never let it boil again. (If you do, the fat will homogenize and the broth will become cloudy.) Second, skim the stock often with a shallow ladle. This removes any fat and impurities and keeps the stock clean.
Whenever I have chicken bones or scraps, onion skins, carrot ends, celery leaves, or other vegetable trimmings, I toss them into a plastic bag in the freezer. When the bag is full, I make stock. For convenience, the finished stock can be frozen in 1- and 2-cup containers, so you always have the right amount on hand.
For the Spice Bundle:
Remove the skin and any lumps of fat from the chicken pieces. Rinse the chicken pieces well. Make the spice bundle: Tie the herbs, peppercorns, and allspice berries in a piece of cheesecloth or wrap them in a square of aluminum foil, and pierce all over with a fork.
Place all the ingredients for the stock in a large stockpot with enough water to cover the chicken. Bring the stock to a boil and skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Lower the heat and gently simmer the stock until well flavored, 2 to 3 hours. Add cold water as necessary to keep the chicken covered. Skim the stock often, especially after you’ve added water. (The cold water brings the fat to the top.)
Strain the stock into a clean container and let cool to room temperature. Transfer to 1- and 2-cup containers and refrigerate or freeze. (Stock will keep four to five days in the refrigerator and for several months in the freezer.)
Note: For an extra-clear stock, pour the stock through a strainer lined with paper towels.
Chicken broth is richer and meatier than chicken stock. Use it for soups and sauces.
Prepare the preceding recipe, substituting a 3-1/2- to 4-pound chicken for the bones. Wash the chicken and remove any lumps of fat. (For a leaner broth, remove the skin, too.) Simmer the chicken for 1 hour, skimming the stock often. At this point the broth is ready. The chicken meat can be pulled off the bones and used for salads.
Yield: Makes 10 to 12 cups