A chicken stock recipe for serious eaters and serious cooks. Rich in flavor and high in nutrition, this stock will make everything you cook unmistakably better.
This is the indispensable ingredient in so much good cooking. You’ll be amazed at how a truly well made stock will elevate all it touches, from rissotto to soup, braises and sauces.
It’s not cheap to make, and takes time, at least, compared with most of the popular stock recipes out there at the moment. So make a large batch once in a while and freeze it. Once you taste it you’ll never regret the cost or effort.
3-4 whole chickens (chicken size varies a lot depending on where you are). Let’s say roughly 13 lbs.
4 large carrots, cut roughly into big pieces
2 large yellow onions, peeled and quartered
5 fat cloves of garlic, crushed with the side of a knife
10 whole black peppercorns
2-3 bay leaves (depending on size)
2 four inch sprigs of fresh rosemary
Cut the whole chickens into the usual pieces: breast, drumstick, thigh, wing, back. Debone the breast meat and set it aside to feature in another dish, or freeze it. Then cut each of the pieces in half, cutting through the bone, with a meat cleaver. You want to expose as much as the meat and bone to water as possible to extract the maximum flavor and nutrition, so go ahead and chop the larger pieces into smaller pieces. There is really no way to do this unless you use a serious meat cleaver.
Throw all the chicken in a large stockpot, including the skin. Add all the other ingredients. Fill with cold water to 3-4 inches from the top. You need to leave some room at the top or else it may overflow during cooking.
Heat your oven to 275 F. Put a lid on the stockpot and place it on your stovetop. Heat it on high, bringing the water almost, but not quite to the boil. At this point you are going to put the stockpot in the oven and leave it there to simmer for 12 hours. Yes. Twelve hours. You can get away with 10 in a pinch.
You can do this early in the morning, or better still, at night before you go to bed.
Once the stock is finished cooking, place it on a heat proof surface and let it cool until it is safe to handle. Strain the cooled stock to remove all the solids. Pour it into freezer safe storage containers of whatever size is generally useful to you. Make sure you leave an inch to an inch and a half of room at the top of your container, because the liquid will expand when frozen.
When it comes time to use the stock, pull out a container and let it defrost in the refrigerator. The fat will float as a solid on the top and is easy to remove right before you use it.
Some comments on the chicken. Yes, it’s a lot of chicken, but I find that chicken in the UK, United States and Canada are really quite mild tasting (bland). If you were to make this in France or India, the chicken would have much more flavor and you wouldn’t need quite as much. If you are able to get an older chicken from a local farmer, or better yet, a rooster, you could reduce the amount of chicken.
Use whole chickens. Each of the pieces and the various types of bones adds something different in terms of taste, body and nutrition. Just buying a giant pack of drumsticks will not produce the same result. With that said, you can add to this stock chicken scraps you’ve saved. For instance, I make raw meat food for my cat and I end up deboning a lot of chicken thighs. I save the bones and freeze them, adding them to the mix when the time comes to make stock.
If you must get pieces of chicken for some reason, rather than whole chickens, be sure to buy all the different pieces and also some chicken backs from your butcher. The backs, breastbone and ribs are a very important part of both the flavor and body of this stock.