I'm thinking about Thanksgiving already. That's right - but it's not because I'm so super organized or anything, it's because I've been saving and freezing chicken parts all year and now it's time to make some wonderful homemade chicken stock for Thanksgiving. (I need the freezer space.) I usually buy whole chickens from The Egg Man, cut the backbones out and cook them this way. I just freeze these backbones and any other chicken or turkey parts that I may acquire through the year. Then, in the fall, I take them all out and make this super stock. Making homemade stock is basic, easy and something everyone should learn to do.
The method is very simple. I like to roast the bones first in the oven to give them a richer flavor. Then the bones are added to some aromatics, covered with water and simmered on the stove a good long while.
One great thing about using this stock for Thanksgiving gravy is that I can reduce it down even further for flavor when the big day comes. If I take out the stock, strain it again and then put it on the stove, uncovered and let it simmer a good long while, it gets even richer. When I make gravy out of this stock, it's something really special.
When you're making the stock, be prepared for lots of oohs and aahs. Your house will absolutely smell like Thanksgiving Day.
Homemade Chicken Stock
Exact quantities simply do not matter in a recipe like this. Only have 5 pounds of chicken bones? That's fine. Want to use 6 carrots? Go ahead.
The exact quantity that this will yield will depend on how long you cook the stock and how far down it reduces. I had about 10 cups of stock.
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- 6 pounds of chicken bones (I had some turkey backs, also)
- 2 onions, quartered
- 4 celery sticks
- 4 carrots
- 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
- 4 bay leaves
- a few springs parsley
- about 20 cups of water
Equally distribute chicken parts and vegetables on two baking trays (cover your trays with foil to make them easier to clean). Roast at 400 degrees for about 1 hour. Transfer everything to a very large stockpot and add the rest of the ingredients. Bring up to a slight boil, lower heat and simmer gently, uncovered for about 2 hours.
Strain into large bowls through a fine sieve. If you like, strain again through cheesecloth, to remove any finer bits. Cool completely in the refrigerator.
After the stock is completely cooled, remove layer of fat from the top. Transfer to plastic containers and freeze for up to 3 months.