Cooks Illustrated has a one hour stock making method which is spectacular.
Yes, you read right. One hour-- from start to finish. And it's fantastic. Turns into gelatin overnight in the fridge and everything. because the legs are hacked into small 2" pieces, it benefits from a lot of contact with bone and marrow, adding a wonderful body and flavor in a very short period of time.
I prefer the "Asian chicken stock" version (I most often make wonton soup from it) which substitutes green onion and ginger for the onion and bay leaf, smashed with the butt end of the knife and added a minute before the boiling water is added.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped medium
4 pounds whole chicken legs or backs and wingtips, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 quarts water (boiling)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 bay leaves
1. Heat oil in large stockpot over medium-high heat until shimmering; add onion and cook until slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer onion to large bowl. Brown chicken in two batches, cooking on each side until lightly browned, about 5 minutes per side; transfer to bowl with onions. Transfer cooked chicken to bowl with onion. Return onion and chicken to pot. Reduce heat to low, cover, and sweat until chicken releases its juices, about 20 minutes. (At this point you will discover an incredibly dense, fragrant chicken concentrate has formed). Increase heat to high; add boiling water, salt, and bay leaves. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low; cover and simmer slowly until stock is rich and flavorful, about 20 minutes, skimming foam off surface, if desired.
2. Strain broth and discard solids. Before using, defat stock. After stock has been refrigerated, the fat hardens on the surface and is very easy to remove with a spoon. To defat hot stock, we recommend using a ladle or fat separator.
A couple more things to consider:
If you go really big like 16 quart the pot can double as your lobster pot.
Make sure it will fit in your fridge.
A Chinese spider is useful for removing the solid parts before straining.
You will need a colander lined with cheesecloth that can be suspended above a large bowl to strain the stock.
More great advice, thanks.
While we're on the topic, I have a question about vegetable stock:
Seems like the basic way to go is to sweat veggies for a long time, add water and simmer for about 40 minutes, then discard the vegetables. But why the last step? Don't you basically have vegetable soup at this point? Why not just eat the veggies? Are they just (ideally) so stripped of flavour and nutrients at this point that they are not worth eating?
great tip from Alton Brown -- use one of the vegetable steamer inserts that opens up like a flower. Invert that on top of all the meat/veg/herbs in your stock -- it will weigh everything down and keep it under the surface of the water, and makes it easier to skim the protein scum.
And yes -- just enough of a simmer that a handful of bubbles are making it to the surface.
I make stock in a 6-qt slow cooker. I put 3-4 leg-thigh combinations, depending on size, in pot with an onion or two cut up and a few ribs of celery cut up, plus salt, and I fill the pot with water within an inch of the top and cook in on Low for 12 hours. I put a large mixing bowl in the sink then set a colander in this and pour the stock into the colander. What stays in the colander gets tossed. What goes into the bowl is stock. This yields 5-6 pints.
A few more tips:
Water can make a surprisingly big difference. Even here in the Northeast where the tap water is pretty good, I usually begin with distilled or at least filtered water.
Use a stewing hen if you can get one; this is a more mature bird than the ones which are slaughtered young for tenderness. Noticeably more chicken flavor.
Cut the bones in half so water can get at the marrow. If you don't have kitchen shears, garden pruning shears work fine for this. No need to actually smash the bones as some folks used to recommend.
Asian secret for richest stock- chicken feet add more color, more flavor, and most importantly lots of gelatine.
And, as Chefjimjam & others have said, simmer!
Remember the old saying, "Soup boiled is soup spoiled."
Wow, thanks for all the great responses and extra info. Just what I need for my upcoming stock-making adventures.
I think I'll be going with the 8qt version of this: http://www.chefscatalog.com/product/2... . Or maybe even the 12qt, I'll have to take some measurements of my kitchen first.
You shouldn't worry so much about the yield of the stock, as the size of the pot. For classic stock making, you need space to fit 1lb of Mirepoix per 5lbs of meat/bones. A chicken stock will simmer for 3 hours to extract marrow, gelatin and collagen(contained in the meat, which will produce a gelatinous golden stock when cold. For home, I have an 8qt pot to allow 1" of water above the mix.
The reason you get a bigger pot is to skim some fat and impurities from the stock as it SIMMERS, not boils. If bones and veggies stick out, you get uglier stock, but the flavor will be the same.
Roast the mirepoix with a little tomato paste for a roasty dark stock, or not for a golden hue. Add in a bunch of thyme, some peppercorns, and bay leaves. 3 hours is what you aim for to extract all available love. You can always reduce after chilling to intensify it. Also, leave a little fat on to protect the stock.
Pressure cookers will make a decent broth quickly, but for classic, clear stock you need to simmer uncovered.
Depends on how strong you want your stock to be.
Depends on what parts of the carcass you are using.
Depends if the bird is roasted or not.
Depends on the type of bird.
Lots of factors.
Don't sweat this too much. Buy the biggest stock pot that you (1) can physically handle comfortably and (2) fits on your stovetop and (3) fits in your cabinet.
One 5 lb bird cooks whole in my 6qt pressure cooker. But if I break the bird up, saving the dark meat for one dish, the boned breasts for another, the back, wing tips, and breast bones fit nicely in a 3qt sauce pan. A quart of stock is a good return on the bones of one such bird.
Depends on the chicken carcass and how strong you like your stock to be.
Very roughly: an uncooked carcass from a 4.5 pound bird will yield roughly 4-5 cups of medium concentrated stock. That's probably just a little lower yield than ferret's rule of thumb, but I probably make stock just a bit more concentrated than he/she does.
Carcasses left from cooked birds yield a weaker stock and have to be cooked down more for a comparable effect.
If you're getting into stockmaking now, you might also consider a pressure cooker (especially if you already have one). It gives excellent results and is far quicker than traditional methods.
CBRD - really! i had no idea that using a cooked bird meant you get a weaker stock. first, let me say that i am almost completely ignorant of the science of this, and i'm very much an amateur home cook. but i guess i thought it was like when you roast beef bones to make stock, that the cooking of the bones adds to the depth of flavor. would you mind giving me a quick "chicken stock for dummies" lesson on this topic? thanks!
and also thanks for that tip about the pressure cooker. i did not know that either. i love my pressure cooker.
I'm going to speak here from my experiences, not from anything I that has been verified by McGee or the food science guys:
Your thinking is right. As you say, cooking the bones definitely adds depth of flavor. The resulting stock might be slightly less gelatinous than a stock from raw bones, but if there is a difference it's muted.
What I was referring to is cooking a whole chicken and then using the carcass for stock (some people do that). It seems to me that you lose gelatin and flavor when you cook a whole bird and then use the bones for stock. Some of the gelatin and flavor from the bones seems to 'leak' out into the meat and juices, which are then mostly eaten and don't get into the stock. Obviously, since the bones themselves aren't browned, you don't get that nice rich, dark flavor and color.
I suspect that with bones that were removed from a raw chicken and then roasted, flavor and gelatin don't really have anywhere to go, and they still tend to make it into the stock pot. You probably lose some of the gelatin to fond from the roasting pan, but it's still not as much as if you had cooked the whole bird and then used the bones.
Definitely give the pressure cooker a try. A batch of stock takes maybe an hour and a half (you have some wiggle room, btw, and even shorter times can give good results). Try to keep the PC from venting as much as you can while you cook the stock. The bones don't even need to be fully submerged. The results are so good and so much quicker that I can't see myself cooking a stock traditionally ever again.
DId you buy the chicken primarily to make stock, or is stock a way of using parts of the chicken that don't work well in other recipes (or are left over from other uses)?
I nearly always do the latter. And the stock is rarely served alone. It goes into a hearty soup, or by the spoonful into sauces or other dishes. It's a step in making best use of my food dollars, not an end in itself.
If by carcass you mean the backbone, wings, thigh and drumstick bones with most meat removed, you woudn't need more than a 3qt saucepan to make stock with one carcass. I'd figure on a quart of finished stock per 3lb chicken (whole uncooked weight). That is, if you want the stock to be rich enough to go gelatinous in the fridge.
You gould get a bit more if seeking a thinner stock (broth), which can be useful for many things, like light soups or rice or a base for cous-cous.
If I were shopping for a stock pot, though, I'd look to 8qt minimum. Many uses, such as boiling pasta water, larger stock recipes, chilis, etc.