The holiday’s are here and that means cooking, lots of it. Whether it’s friendsgiving, work potluck, Thanksgiving, Holiday Cocktail Parties, Hanukkah, Christmas, non-denominational Winter Solstice Party, New Years Eve, or whatever you choose to celebrate, food is on the table. And one of the main ingredients in these hearty party winter foods is stock: veggie stock, chicken stock, or beef stock, pick your favorite.
Now yes, you can easily walk up and pull a box off the shelf and be good to go. There are some really tasty boxed stock options and I’ve done that plenty of times. But my argument is this:
Stock is SO easy to make with simple everyday ingredients you probably already have in your house. Put it in a pot, add water and walk away kind of easy.
You also have way more control of whats going into your body, less ingredients you can’t pronounce, less sodium, and MORE flavor.
I started making homemade stock when I moved in with my boyfriend, now fiance, who’s go-to for chicken was the already cooked rotisserie chicken at the deli counter. I know you know which one I’m talking about. Every store has them now and everyone has bought one because they are SO damn convenient. But I was having a really hard time with the amount of waste we were creating, because let’s face it, not many people are going to eat a whole chicken clean. So I started making stock with them. This turned into me adding additional chicken bones and byproduct (neck, feet, etc), with veggies and spices I had in the house. And now, I’m a huge fan of making a pot of stock (anytime of year), to portion out and stick in the freezer for when I need it!
So here’s my Chicken Stock Recipe and I’ll add some notes at the bottom for flavor subs and ways to use stock, other than just for soup!
1 lb Chicken Feet
3 - 4 Chicken fryer backs (or 1 - 2 leftover rotisserie chicken bones)*
*You can find both Chicken Feet, Fryer backs, Neck bones and other poultry by-products at your local butcher or meat counter at the grocery store. A couple stores I’ve grabbed them from in the past are: Sonoma Market & Pacific Market. But I am sure you could find them at Oliver’s, Whole Foods or any of the local butcher shops in town.
1 - 2 Turkey Neck Bones
1 - 2 onions, quartered
3 - 4 stalks of celery, cut in thirds
2 - 3 carrots, cut in thirds
Several garlic cloves - personal preference but I put 3 - 4 cloves (peeled and crushed)
2 Pinches - Red Chili Flakes
1 T dried Oregano - sub fresh sprigs if you’d like, 4 sprigs
2 Bay Leaves
Poultry Pack, Fresh Herb pack - includes Sage (3 sprigs), Rosemary ( 6 sprigs) & Thyme (12 sprigs)
32 C of Water
Salt to season - 2 large pinches
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
8 Qt Stock Pot
Freezer Safe Containers*
*Glass or Plastic Containers - you can use both. If you use glass, be sure the liquid has cooled to room temp. When filling your glass jars, fill ¾ full, allow enough head space for the liquid to freeze and expand. You’ll want to leave some room in a plastic container as well. When sealing a glass jar for the freezer, do not twist tight, allow for a loose seal and once completely frozen twist lid tight.
Place all the ingredients into stock pot
Cover with water, ensuring everything is covered
Season with Salt
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat, simmer and walk away… checking on it periodically to give it a stir and taste. About 4 - 8 hours till desired flavor profile has been reached
Remove from heat, taste. At this point finish off with a squeeze of 1/2 a lemon. Add additional salt and pepper if desired.
Cool to room temperature (always be mindful of the time/temp rule)
Strain, discarding the solids
Portion out into 1 - 2 cup portions
Place in freezer safe containers
Then defrost as needed!
There is lots of wiggle room regarding stock, yes I still have my 101 Culinary Basics book from college that actually has a recipe but, eh, it’s more of a guide or suggestion. If you like more garlic and onion, add more. Want more heat, add a tablespoon of chili flakes, get creative. Stock is a base, to make your dishes whole.
So here are some other tips, subs, & notes:
You can always add more water - if you’ve experienced rapid evaporation due to getting side tracked and aren’t happy with the flavor, add more water, reduce the heat and let the flavors keep working
Add a hard cheese rind, like Parmesan into the stock pot for added salt and richness.
Looking for a generic chicken stock - sub out the poultry herbs with just Thyme, Oregano and Bay Leaves.
Looking for an pho essence - onion, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, red chili flakes, and a squeeze of lime at the end.
Want to go vegetarian - leeks, onion, garlic, celery, carrot, bell pepper, with lots of herbs!
If I’ve started my stock later in the day and feel it needs longer on the stove, I’ll bring it to room temp, put a lid on it and stick it in the fridge overnight. In the AM, put the pot of the stove, bring it to a simmer and let it go till I’m happy with the flavor. (always be mindful of the time/temp rule)
How to Enjoy:
Remove from freezer the day before and defrost in the refrigerator
Remove the day of and defrost on the counter - always being mindful of the time/temp rule
Use in any recipe that calls for Stock:
Gravy - Take this recipe add your turkey drippings and some flour, thicken and viola gravy
Great sub for water when making rice or polenta
Add it to a marinade
Use it as a base to start your next batch of stock
Heat it up and drink it as is!
Cheers, Happy Cooking and Eating!