Method 1 Using Whole Chicken
1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), rinsed, giblets discarded
2 carrots, cut in large chunks
3 celery stalks, cut in large chunks
2 large white onions, quartered
1 head of garlic, halved
1 turnip, halved
1/2 tsp dried thyme or 1/4bunch fresh thyme
2 bay leaves optional
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
Place the chicken and vegetables in a large stockpot over medium heat. Pour in only enough cold water to cover (about 3 quarts); too much will make the broth taste weak. Toss in the thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns, and allow it to slowly come to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, partially covered, until the chicken is done. As it cooks, skim any impurities that rise to the surface; add a little more water if necessary to keep the chicken covered while simmering.
Carefully remove the chicken to a cutting board. When its cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones; hand-shred the meat into a storage container.
Carefully strain the stock through a fine sieve into another pot to remove the vegetable solids. Use the stock immediately or if you plan on storing it, place the pot in refrigerator till fat layer hardens. Remove fat layer. Put in storage containers and freeze.
Method 2. Leftover Chicken Bones
1 Put the leftover bones and skin from a chicken carcass into a large stock pot and cover with cold water. Add veggies like celery, onion, carrots, parsley.
2 Add salt and pepper, about 1/2 tsp of salt, 1/4 tsp of pepper.
3 Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to bring the stock to barely a simmer.
4 Simmer uncovered at least 4 hours, occassionally skimming off the foam that comes to the surface.
5 Remove the bones and strain the stock.
6 If making stock for future use in soup you may want to reduce the stock by simmering a few hours longer to make it more concentrated and easier to store.
Method 3. Chicken backs, wings, and legs.
4 lbs of chicken backs, wings, and or legs that have been hacked with a cleaver into 2-inch pieces. You can ask your butcher to prepare the chicken pieces this way.
1 large yellow onion, chopped.
2 quarts of boiling water
2 teaspoons of salt
2 bay leaves
1 Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a large stock pot. Add one chopped onion. Sauté until softened and slightly colored - 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
2 Add half of the chicken pieces to the pot. Sauté until no longer pink, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer cooked chicken to bowl with onions. Sauté the rest of the chicken the same way. Return onion and chicken pieces to the pot. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until chicken releases its juices, about 20 minutes.
3 While the chicken pieces are cooking, fill a large tea kettle with 2 quarts of water, bring to a boil.
4 After the chicken pieces have been cooking for 20 minutes, raise the heat level to high, add the 2 quarts of boiling water, 2 teaspoons of salt, 2 bay leaves. Return to a low simmer, then cover and barely simmer for about 20 minutes.
5 Strain broth and discard solids. Broth can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for several months.
This third method comes from The Best Recipe cookbook by Cook's Illustrated. They got it from In Pursuit of Flavor, by Edna Lewis. This makes a truly flavorful stock. With chicken backs at about $1 lb, a good value as well.
Notes about the Fat
I've seen a lot of newer cookbooks advocate the skimming of the fat from the stock. Some prefer the traditional method of letting the fat settle in a layer on top of the stock as it cools. This way, the fat acts as a protective layer against bacteria, which is found in the air. The stock will last longer if you keep the fat layer on it. Just lift up the layer of fat and remove the stock when you want to use it. Every few days, bring the stock to a simmer for 10 minutes and let it cool, again with the fat forming a protective layer. Your stock can be stored in the refrigerator and used for up to a couple of weeks this way.
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