Chicken Stock, So Often the Base of Everything Good!
Chicken stock is one of those things that are just worth doing. And I happened on the best recipe out there- the stock is flavorful, rich, and adds a lovely base to so many dishes without overpowering them. Chicken stock should be an underlying flavor factor, adding richness, depth, and never an overt flavor. It guides a dish, underlies a dish; it adds that pow factor that truly nothing else can. So take the time to make some yourself; your house will smell amazing, it's easy to freeze, easy to thaw and will make all your soups, gravies and sauces taste so much better than anything you can buy.
My go-to recipe is by Shirley O. Corriher and is in her cookbook called Cookwise: The Secrets of Cooking Revealed. Truly every recipe she publishes is wonderful and this is one of her most useful; if you don't have her cookbooks and you love to cook, you really must try her recipes. So, here it is- Shirley's wonderful chicken stock!
5 Chicken carcasses- about 4 pounds of chicken necks and backs- no livers (I order mine from a local farm- check your local butcher or go online for local farms)
4 onions, quartered
3 carrots, cut into 1-inch slices
2 leeks, white parts only, cut into 1/2-inch slices
3 ribs celery, leaves included, cut into 1-inch slices
6 mushroom stems (optional)
1/4 white turnip (optional)
8 quarts cold water (that's 32 cups)
10 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
10 parsley stems
6 white peppercorns (I use black peppercorns, when I don't have any white)
2 cloves garlic (optional)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary (optional)
Making it is so easy. Just place the bones, onions and carrots in a tall stockpot (12 quarts or larger). Rinse the leeks after slicing, and add them along with the celery, mushroom stems, and turnip. Cover it all with cold water and bring to a light boil. Skim off the foam and fat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the thyme, bay leaves, parsley, peppercorns, garlic and rosemary. Simmer uncovered, for 3-5 hours, adding hot water when necessary to keep the vegetables covered.
Next, skim off any remaining fat, then strain the stock through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl or soup pot. Cool immediately in a sink filled with ice water. Store stock in containers with lids. The stock will keep in the fridge for 5-7 days, or up to 3 months in the freezer.
You should end up with about 7 quarts of stock; if you get less, don't worry, it will just be extra rich and flavorful. Believe me, once you make this stock, going back to canned, cartoned, or concentrated stock will just not be an option!