Monday, January 13, 2014

Kitchen 101 - Stocking up on Stock

Every now and again I'm drawn to the mouth-watering smell of the roasted chickens spinning away behind the deli counter at the grocery store. I tell myself that I'm buying them so that I can shred the meat for enchiladas or make a chicken salad but I'm a big fat liar and I really just want to sit and eat the whole thing and not share it with anyone. Emphasis on big and fat.

No matter how I choose to worship the blessed roaster, I always save the carcass (is that not the worst word ever? It's up there with "moist." The food blogger apologizes for ruining all of your appetites.) to make a stock. If I don't have time that day or I already have a batch on hand, I bag it up and throw it in the freezer for later.

Usually if I'm on a mission specifically to make a stock it's because my vegetables are getting ready to turn and I hate to be wasteful. You know, when my celery is looking a little sad, my carrots feel like they've just been standing in the corner by themselves at a party for too long, my bag of onions is crying out for attention, the garlic looks like it's itching to sprout... They're all on their way to a pool party together and they don't even know it yet. It's gonna be a BLAST. Anyway, these are the days where I will look at my veg in their big pile of sad and make sure I plan a chicken dish sometime that week so I can try and be just a little more efficient with my food.

So why a homemade stock over the boxed stuff? Well, for one, you already paid for the chicken. So, use the chicken. Even though the roasters are usually around $6 or less, I don't see why you would want to then immediately turn around and spend another $4 on a box of stock. Don't get me wrong, I keep a box or two on hand in case I need it in a pinch, but before today (when I didn't realize I needed stock until halfway through the cooking process because I read recipes in their entirety before I begin and I'm also quite sarcastic) I don't remember the last time I used the stuff.

Another reason I prefer to make my own is so that I can control what goes into it. You wouldn't think there would be strange ingredients in a box of broth, but check your labels next time you reach for it on the shelves. The one in my pantry right now has added gelatin, tapioca starch, and "natural flavors" (whatever the hell that's supposed to mean) listed after "chicken," "water," and "mirepoix" - WHICH IS ALL YOU NEED TO MAKE A STOCK.

So let's begin.

  • Bones from one whole cooked chicken
  • Water
  • 2 Carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 Celery Ribs, roughly chopped
  • 1 Medium Onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 Garlic Cloves, peeled and smashed
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste


Add chicken carcass and vegetables to a stock pot or Crock Pot and add water until just covered.

If cooking stovetop, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer on low heat covered for at least four hours, up to 12 hours. If using a slow cooker, set it to low and leave it for the same amount of time.

For a richer, more condensed stock, cook longer and allow the liquid to reduce. For a lighter stock, add more water to the pot after a few hours just to bring it back to the same level you started at.

Strain through a fine mesh colander and store in airtight containers in the refrigerator for no longer than 3-4 days. Stock may be frozen for up to six months in a standard freezer and up to a year in a deep freezer.

  • To make a broth rather than a stock, omit the bones and only use the leftover meat to flavor your water.
  • You are not limited to just chicken for this recipe. Feel free to use beef, shellfish, pork, anything you like. Or use any number or combination of vegetables and make it vegetarian.


  1. Stupid question, but what is the difference between broth and stock?

    1. Not stupid at all! Generally a stock is going to have a richer, more complex flavor and is made from the bones of the bird plus vegetables and a little salt. A broth is a much lighter flavor and is typically made with just the meat and not much else.