Chicken Stock

Chicken stock has become very nearly the universal stock of American home cooking. In classical french cuisine it plays a much smaller role, after brown stock (beef) and white stock (veal). Chicken stock is much simpler to create than brown stock, and easier on the conscience than veal stock, so it isn't entirely surprising.

Where the recipe calls for "bones", I use a mixture of necks, backs and wing ends. Don't use giblets, especially the liver, as they contribute cloudiness and off-flavors. Chicken feet, if you see them in your grocery, can be added with good results.

Any stock has four main characteristics: Aroma, taste, color and body. A stock should smell good, taste good, have a good deep color (golden for chicken stock), and have a substantial "feel" in the mouth. This last is body, the amount of gelatin in the stock. The gelatin comes from cartilidge, which is why chicken feet make a nice addition.

Clarity is of lesser importance, although it's nice. Try not to boil stocks after the initial boil at the beginning. A low simmer, with bubbles lazily rising to, but not disturbing, the surface, is perfect. Think of your chicken bones and vegetables taking a really long, really hot soak in the hot tub.

  1. Cover bones with cold water by two inches. Bring to a boil, stirring occassionally. As water nears boiling clumps of greyish scum will rise to the surface; skim these off. The more you get now, the clearer your stock will be (the "scum" will not otherwise harm your stock). When water boils, reduce leat to low. Do not cover pot
  2. Simmer on low heat (surface of water should remain undisturbed, except for bubbles which should rise slowly) for two hours. Peel and quarter onion; cut celery and carrot into pieces; add to stock with a bay leaf, parsley, thyme, and peppercorns to the stock.
  3. Stir and simmer another two hours. Line a wire mesh strainer with cheesecloth and set over a clean empty pot. Ladle the stock through the cloth. Discard the bones and vegetables. Rinse out the stock pot and return the stock to the clean stock pot. Cool by setting stock pot filled with strained stock in a sink full of ice water. Leave until stock has stopped steaming; add more ice if water heats up.
  4. Transfer stock to the refrigerator, and chill overnight; skim fat from surface and discard.