In my opinion, if you can afford it. Whole chicken. However, carcass is the best in term of being smart about food allocation. As for raw vs cooked chicken, that completely depending on your preference. I think roasted/baked/fried chicken offer more taste -- same reason for the additional favor for browning foods. However, raw chicken for stock gives a cleaner and milder taste so it can be used in more situations.
Since this thread is still up and running, I'd like to add that I've recently been using a pressure cooker to make stocks, with very good results. It offers a few upsides over traditional techniques.
A) It's quicker. Much quicker. Once I have the cooker up to full pressure, 1.5-2 hours yields a very full-flavored stock- results that would have taken me something like 6-10 hours of simmering on the stove top.
B) You lose less flavor if you keep the cooker just below venting and cool the stock a bit before opening the pressure cooker. All that nice chicken smell filling your kitchen when you make stock normally is flavor that is leeching from your end product. This can result in a 'fresher' flavor as a lot of the more volatile compounds (typically those that we associate with freshness) that are normally quickly sent airborne settle back into the stock. Of course, this is negated if you intend to cook it down further for a sauce or demiglace.
Not that there's anything wrong with regular stock-making. And I haven't yet tried making stock overnight in a slow cooker to compare - I know others on this board are fans of that method. I just thought I'd share this for anyone interested. It's made it much easier and quicker for me to have high-quality stock available when I need it.
Another pressure cooking stock maker here.
For basic chicken stock I use scrap from previous chicken fabrication. Necks, backs, wing tips, leg, thigh and beast bones, hearts, gizzards, skin and meat trimmings all find their way to bags that go into the freezer. Typically 2-3 pounds of scraps per bag. Into the pressure cooker with a few quarts of water, an onion with peel and any other aromatics you want if you want to flavor your stock. I usually cook for an hour and then do a natural cool down so close to 1.5 hours. Pop a strainer over a stock pot lined with wet paper towels. Drain stock through strainer. Amazing how much fat stays out of the strained stock and doesn't pass through the towels. I let it cool in a cold water bath in the sink and within 30 mins the stock is ready to portion into plastic tubs or zip bags for the freezer.
The bones are brittle and crumble between your fingers. The stock if refrigerated would have the consistency of jello. When used the stock has a silky texture if reduced a little. Great mouth feel from the gelatin.
It's so easy and quick that I often make stock on the fly for soups and stews and use right away.
Why the natural cool-down? Do you find it has any benefit over just cooking for an hour and a half and then submersing the cooker in cold water? So far, I've always cooled in a water bath, but I'm impatient.
Agreed on the silky texture. I've actually had problems in that I sometimes like to clarify via ice filtration, and pressure cooker stocks tend to create so much gelatin that I don't get much yield.
The bones are so soft and crumbly that I can just feed all the solids to my dog. He loves when I make stock.
Been making stock every fortnight for the past 2 years, tried every variation. I freeze, then use in "use chicken stock" applications like you've noted above. What I've found is that the only mandatory ingredients are chicken (in whatever form), water, heat and time. All other variations depend on desired application and personal preference.
* Whole raw chicken (or chicken marylands when they are cheap) is my favourite, yields a rich, golden, deeply chicken-y flavour. What I think of as the ultimate 'umami' experience. But I only do this when I am going to be home the next few days and able to eat all that boiled chicken meat in salad, sandwiches or noodle soup.
* Most often I use raw chicken carcass. Makes perfectly acceptable chicken stock. Beats the store-bought stuff hands down everytime, seriously I've done blind taste tests at home to check. But I give it more time simmering on the stove because I think it takes longer to extract the flavour locked in the gelatine and bones.
* When i have roast chicken, I use roasted chicken carcass. Adds a deeper note and slightly smokey flavour. But other than in soup, personal preference is for the clearer taste of raw chicken stock.
The other thing I play with is the spices/aromatics.
Generally stick to the normal celery + carrot + onion + peppercorn combination. Alton Brown's combination looks good and goes that direction. I prefer to leave out the bay-leaf for my "going into freezer" stock and add it later in the actual dish I'm making, as bay-leaf comes across really strongly over time.
Sometimes prefer a spice combo I adapted from a Vietnamese pho recipe: black cardamom + coriander + fennel seeds + cloves + ginger root (I believe star anise and cinnamon also traditional, but once again I find them overwhelming in stocks).
Point is, try em all, they're still gonna be better than store bought :)
I'll save bonesand skin from cooked poultry, but add raw parts to them when making stock. In my experience, stock made just from the carcass is usually grayish in color, and almost sour in taste.
I usually reserve homemade for making soup in which chicken has the starring role. For other soups, and recipes needing addition of stock, I like Better Than Bouillon, especially if I can find the lower sodium version. I never add salt to anything containing BTB. It's a lot more convenient than lugging cans or tetrapaks of broth, and takes less storage space.
Lots of good tips so far, but I find that stock made from chicken, raw or roasted, is rather bland. Try using turkey necks. It's dark meat so you get more flavor, plus it has lots of bone and connective tissue to make gelatin. Roast first or sear in a pan for deeper flavor, or use raw.
Thank you for all your suggestions; I appreciate them. There have been many requests for my usage intentions. I'm really just looking for a product that will satisfy "add chicken stock" when it pops up in a recipe such as risotto, soup, stews, and such. I have no specific use in mind. Also, to clarify, when I mentioned cooked carcass's, I was referring to what's left over after roasting or frying a bird, or perhaps buying a cooked bird from the deli. I realize that roasting a raw carcass is good but I rarely have need to bone a raw chicken. Maybe I should look for recipes that call for one!
Wait a minute guys. I think after reading all your replys a couple of times, you're answered my questions. Hannaone's recipe looks especially interesting; because of the ginger and garlic, I think I'll make it for Asian dishes only. Has anyone had success with Alton Brown's recipe?
For white chicken stock I like to use carcasses and wings, or at least wing tips. I buy chicken as a whole and disjoint it (use thighs, drumsticks and breast portion for other dishes). Then the (raw) carcass with back meat and wings go into the freezer or stockpot.
Carcass and wings have a good ratio of bones, meat and skin.
As ipsedixit said, feet and neck are fine, too. For brown use the same stuff, but roast before.
Agreed with hanna - depends on what you're using it for. Roasted carcass will have deeper, roasted, complex flavors. Whole raw bird will have very bright and very pure chicken-y flavors. Raw carcass is cheaper than whole bird and can have more gelatin (by weight of bird/bird parts used) than whole bird, especially if you add the wings to the carcass.
Whole raw chicken ... this is true in Chinese cooking as well.
However, when the Chinese use whole raw chicken it's usually made into what Americans would consider "chicken soup" and not stock. In other words, the concoction made with the whole chicken is consumed directly, and not as a base for other soups or dishes (as is typical with stock).
Is this also the case in Korean cooking?
Here is an example of making both broth (for soup) and stock (for stews or braises)
The first step results in a clear light broth used mostly for soups.
The second step yields a heavy stock that can be used for various stews and braises.
There is a third type that yields a milky broth/stock used in either soups or stews, instead of the eight hours for the stock, the cooking time is about 2 1/2 hours.
Dak Jangguk - Heavy Chicken Broth
1 3 pound chicken
12 cloves garlic
1 ounce ginger
6 medium green onions
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 cup rice wine
3 quarts water
4 ounces daikon radish
Cut chicken to fit your stock pot.
Place the chicken in a clean sink, large pot, bucket, or other container.
Add ice cold water until chicken is covered and soak for about one hour.
Cut peeled garlic in half from top to bottom.
Cut the green onion where the green pales into the white. Cut the white portion in half lengthwise. (Reserve the green for other uses)
Cut the ginger (and daikon) in roughly 1/8 inch thick slices.
Bring three quarts of water to a full rolling boil over high heat.
Add chicken, return to a full boil, and boil for about two minutes.
Remove from heat, pour off the boil water, and rinse chicken in cold water.
Place the chicken into the stock pot and add 3 quarts fresh water.
Add ginger slices.
Bring to a full boil and cook for 10 minutes.
Skim foam as needed.
Reduce heat to medium low, add the rest of the ingredients, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes.
Carefully remove the chicken from the pot and set aside to cool.
Remove the meat from the bones and reserve for other use.
Strain the broth through a cheesecloth lined sieve, and discard the collected solids.
Note: At this point you may use/save the broth as is for clear broth and continue the next steps with three quarts of fresh water, or for a more flavorful heavy stock continue with the clear broth.
Return the chicken carcass (bones) and the broth (or 3 quarts fresh water) to the stock pot.
Bring to a simmer over medium low heat, cover, and cook for 8 hours.
Remove from heat then carefully remove and discard bones.
Strain the stock into an airtight container(s), and refrigerate overnight.
Remove the layer of solid fat from the stock the next morning.
Store the stock for up to one week in the refrigerator, or freeze for later use.