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Amateur Chicken Stock Question

I don't understand where you're supposed to get the bones. Do I not throw Uncle Louie's chicken leg after he finishes eating it (disgusting) and save it for the pot? Do I buy a whole chicken and also use some meat from the chicken? And what's this I'm seeing about "don't use the liver?" There's no way I would recognize a liver if I saw one.

Whenever you watch of vid of someone making the stock, this step is always skipped.

Thank you for your time,

El Bandito

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  1. There are lots of ways of making chicken stock, but all involve bones. Some ways involve simmering a whole chicken in the pot (if there's a liver in the packaging, it will be in a pouch inside the body cavity; remove any pouches, and rinse away any obvious clingy organ tissue from within).

    I most often make stock mainly from chicken backs: whenever I see a good price on whole chickens, I cut the leg quarters away, then maybe remove wishbone and take off the breast meat (sometimes I leave the breast bone in, and then I'm left with chicken back and wings). Chop or break the leftover parts a bit, and you've got good stock starter. Simmer for 2-4 hours in water to cover the amount of bones you have, plus an onion cut in half (unpeeled) and maybe a dozen whole black peppercorns. Strain the liquid in a fine strainer.

    Some butchers will sell you chicken backs, by the way.

    Roasting or not roasting the chicken bones before the stock depends on what you want: I generally do not want the roasting flavors in my stock, so I avoid it. But it all depends on what you're aiming for. I've sometimes made a stock/broth from rotisserie chicken leftovers, a home-roasted bird, or the taken-home carcass of a restaurant bird.

    1. I save in the freezer bits and pieces of the chicken I don't use. Perhaps I cut off the wing tips or cut out the back when I butterflied a chicken. Or I'll save the carcass from a whole roast chicken, either one I bought or one I cooked myself. You can also just buy wings, legs, or whatever's cheap or on sale. If you live near a Chinatown, you can often buy raw carcasses for very little money. I've even been known to buy a whole chicken specifically to make stock, but I don't do that often. I wouldn't save Uncle Louie's chicken leg, although there really probably nothing wrong with doing so.

      The liver, if your chicken comes with one, will be in the cavity along with the heart and the gizzard, sometimes in a little paper bag. There may also be a neck in there, and if so, that goes into the freezer with the rest of pieces I'm collecting for stock. It's really a shame to toss the liver out, but if you're not going to save them until you have enough to make chopped liver or a chicken liver pate, toss it. You'll graduate to saving, and savoring, it at some point.

      1. I typically use necks, backs and wings. There's a lot of good stuff left after the butcher cuts off the chicken breasts (and you can poach the breasts and add them back to the finished soup).

        1. I second the backs. Thighs are always a good option too.

          And the livers look like the stuff on the left:

          1. "Do I not throw Uncle Louie's chicken leg after he finishes eating it"

            I suppose you can do it this way if you want to. Who am I to say no to that.

            "There's no way I would recognize a liver if I saw one."

            ....can't you look up wikipedia for liver? Here is a picture:


            In short, there are two main ways of making chicken stock. The most common method is to make stock from a deboned chicken. First, you debone/break down a chicken for the meat. After that, use whatever leftover (bones and few pieces of meat) to make stock. The less common method (still common method) is to make the stock from the entire chicken.

            1. One approach is to buy a whole chicken (5 lb is a nice size for this), and cut it up into major parts:

              - thighs and legs get used for braised dishes. It is easy to cook these parts to the point that the meat comes right off the bone, so you can later use the bones without worrying about who has chewed on them.

              - wings can be used like the legs. The outer segment is all bone and skin, so I cut it off and put it in the stock pot

              - the back doesn't have enough meat to serve as it is. This goes in my stock pot. Lots of skin and bone there.

              - breasts don't need as much cooking as the thighs. They don't have a lot of bone, so it does not much matter whether you bone them or not.

              So the wing tips, backs, neck, gizzards and heart (if any) go in the stock pot right away, along with any extra scraps of skin and fat. I usually add the bones from the cooked pieces late, but that's not necessary.

              1. I prefer my chicken roasted first (either bought or home roasted) then de-boned. I always use some apple cider or red wine vinegar in my stock water, it's supposed to allow the bones to give out more calcium and it does make the broth more gelatinous. I put the carcass in the crock pot and let it go on low for 24 hours.

                Any meat left in the stock is useless and is given to the dog. I don't use any bones that were on anyone's plate, but a nicely roasted chicken should be very easy to de-bone.

                1. Ask your butcher for a grab bag of wings, neck, back, feet.

                  1. I wait until I've roasted a whole chicken. I make several meals out of that chicken by serving half the breast meat the day I roast it (I'm usually cooking for just 1 or 2) then removing most of the meat off the bones to add into stir fries, fried rice, soup, or whatever. The bones go into the freezer until the next time I find thighs or drumsticks cheap. Then I make stock!

                    I toss the bones from the roast chicken and the thighs/drumsticks into the water with onion, carrots and celery and simmer till the chicken meat is just perfectly poached and then pull most of the meat off the bones to use for cooking. This meat is then the basis for other meals while the bones with what remaining meat clings to them go back into the stockpot. I barely simmer this for 8 or so hours, fish out the large chunks of everything then strain through a few layers of cheesecloth or even muslin to get an absolutely clear stock. Put this stock in the fridge in as deep a bowl as you can for several hours. All the fat rises to the top and solidifies making it easy to remove leaving you with pure chicken stock.

                    Another thing I've done is just taken two whole chickens, skinned and cleaned them and simmered them till the meat is done. Then I remove most of the meat to use in cooking and put the bones back into the stock to cook further.

                    One thing to note - I never salt my stock when I make it because my usual method of storage is to boil it down to a thick glaze to make it easier to store. If I salted the stock the glaze would be entirely too salty if I wanted to use it unconcentrated. So I always salt later when diluting the stock to make whatever dish it is going to end up as.

                    1. You can buy packages of bones (backs, wings, necks, etc.) at any of the larger Asian markets (e.g., Ranch 99, Marina Market, New May Wah in SF). Mexican markets often carry bones, too. If they are not displayed, ask the butcher.

                      I save bones from the unused parts of whole chickens, and supplement them with the store-bought bones. I do not use the bones that have been gnawed on. :-)

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