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My chicken broth is dark and flavorless

I've made 2 batches of chicken broth lately using the Joy of Cooking (mid-70's version) recipe. The first batch smelled exquisite but was taking too long to reduce so I turned up the heat and boiled it too high and ended up with a wonder smelling cloudy mess with fat that didn't rise to the top to skim once cooled. Sort of tuned out like chicken jello with trapped fat. So I learned (like to book says, not to boil a stock.

The second attempt I used chicken wings. I did not boil. I simmered it for about twice as long as the book said because it just never smelled or tasted "chickeny" like the first attempt. Finally it reduced to a point that I felt it wouldn't get any better. I froze it and am now making chicken noodle soup with it.

I defrosted the stock and slowly reheated it in a Dutch oven. It looks brown, not golden, and doesn't taste like chicken. Just kind 0f blah. Now that I think of it I can't remember if I roasted the chicken wings slightly before I added them to the stockpot. If I did, I only slightly browned them to get rid of some of the fat. Would this minimal roasting create such a dark stock? That still wouldn't explain why it tastes and smells "blah".

The first time I used the carcasses leftover form the Costco rotisserie chicken and that stock (before I boiled it and ruined it) smelled and tasted much better.

What is the key to good chicken stock? What did I do wrong?

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  1. Have you added any salt? You don't want much, especially if you plan to reduce further, but a little can really help bring out the flavor. Try experimenting with a small portion first.

    1. Well there are a couple of things that you can do...

      Start with a good quality organic chicken (i'm convinced they're younger and have more gelatin/collagen) which gives the broth a more velvety mouth feel.

      Start with a large pot, heat it up med/high, throw in your corsely chopped Carrots/onions/celery/ bay leaves, hand full of peppercorns, into some olive oil......cook 'em for a bit 10min....

      put your chik in fill above the chix with clean drinking water....and bring up to a boil....top on....once you've reached that, take the top off, turn it down to a simmer and skim foam as needed and don't stir.

      In about an hour or so the meat will be cooked. Take the chik out put in colllander...let cool, all the while continuing to simmer broth.

      Take off all of the meat, and put all of the bones back in. Simmer for another 4-7 hrs. depending to your time and the intensity you are looking for , as time passes tyou may need to add water in order for the bones to not get swamped.

      I'd throw in a bit of salt to allow the flavors to come out but not too much and at the end of the process.

      This is not brain surgery...do not make it complicated, and if that isn't what you're looking for I recommend buying and having in your kitchen The Professional Chef (the Culinary Institute of America's bible)....it will elucidate on any and all food preparation that you may have a question about. Once you have the basics you can riff off of them and start experimenting with different flavors and ideas.

      I hope that helps you. I don't brown the bones, some people do, it gives a different flavor that is excellent, but it is a different process. Also the yellow color comes from the skins of the onion which incidentially you should not throw away and cook those in your stock. It will lend a nice color to the stock (onion skins were used to dye clothing and make paint with in the Victorian era and before).

      keep cooking!!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Lex

        Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I really like the idea about the onion skins, I believe that will make a big difference. That and some salt as you and the other poster recommended. I didn't put any salt in as I thought I'd do that once I used it in a recipe but I can see that I need to add a little to the stock at the end to help build the flavor.

        And yes, I will "keep on cooking!!"

        1. re: Pate

          Interesting about the onion skins. When I make chicken soup or broth from chicken carcases of past dinners, I use a spaghetti pot.

          Usually throw a whole onion the bottom of a stalk of celery and leaves, a few carrots and parsley stems ... cover it all with water, bring to a boil and then simmer for a few hours.

          Then I bring the pot to the sink and lift out the colander part with the bones and scrap vegetebles.

          I never use salt ... and I have various results. Usually it is deep yellow and very chickeny. There are a few things that can go wrong for me ...
          - not having enough carcass
          - not simmering long enough

          Maybe the second pot didn't have enough chicken wings or it didn't simmer long enough.

          That being said, my last pot just turned out like you described your second soup ... it tastes weak even though I used two and a half carcasses that had more than enough meat attached. Simmered a long time. Don't know why this batch went wrong.

      2. ...can anyone suggest a recipe to use up dark chicken stock, something other than gravy.. ?? I have a batch that turned out wonderful and don't want to give to the dogs quite yet. I have about a good 1/2 gallon.

        4 Replies
        1. re: MelissaCato

          use to add flavor to anything that chicken flavor would enhance-- when steam-frying veggies & chicken, for example. or you could just make a good chicken soup with the rest of the stock, or you can freeze it too. throw some stock into the rice pot instead of some of the water & be prepared to totally pig out on rice.

          1. re: MelissaCato

            Give it to the dogs? You can still use it and it'll be great. What's wrong w/making soup out of it?

            1. re: JaneRI

              Yes I cook for my dogs. Their on a "BARF" diet. I always make soups and noodles out of it. Just looking for something different yet filling. This time I fried it up with peas, broccoli, cauliflower, snow pea pods, carrots and baby corns, then put over steamed white rice. My son made the chocolate pudding for dessert. Thanks for the tips, this website is neat!@!

            2. In a hearty soup, along the ministrone line, does not require a beautiful looking broth. The use of well browned onions, herbs, mushrooms, beans, would mess up the color of a golden stock. I make stock from left over chicken bones, and rarely worry about the color - especially if I'm just cooking for my family.

              I thought old stewing hens were supposed to be more flavorful than young ones. I also suspect there is more callogen in old birds, though it may take longer to extract. If you really want more body in your broth, include the feet with the rest of the bird (or buy feet specifically for the purpose).

              paulj

              1. I use chicken stock in baked beans, rissotto, and stuffing. It's also useful in any slow cooked recipe like a stew.

                I always make stock from an already cooked bird carcass. We have some lovely turkey stock made from our bird. Can you use turkey stock in place of chicken in recipes, or will it alter the flavor substantially?

                1 Reply
                1. re: lisaf

                  It does change the flavor, but I usually love the turkey version. I don't know if it's because I don't get to eat turkey as often as chicken, or if it's just better. For example, chicken rice porridge is fine, but turkey rice porridge? I could drink a gallon.