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Making Chicken Stock from carcass?

emmeisix Sep 13, 2012 07:11 AM

Ok, I am new at this and I'm worried I did something wrong.

On Monday night I made a roast organic chicken... it was delicious. The cavity was stuffed with onions and celery and I coated it with a bit of wine, olive oil, and fresh herbs.

After dinner, around 9 PM I decide to make stock from the carcass. I put it in an enameled pot along with onions, celery, carrots, a chopped up leek, garlic cut in half and herbs, 2 Tablespoons of vinegar, salt + 15 cups of water. It really didn't start boiling until 10 PM.

My intention was to let it simmer on low overnight, but this is a new apartment and I'm new to having a gas stove. I found I didn't sleep very well worrying about it! Finally around 3 AM I went in and turned off the burner (the lid was on).

Around 6 when I got up for work, the pan was cooled enough to touch (it was quite warm). I turned it on high again and boiled for about 30 minutes, then turned it off, strained it into a bowl and put it in the fridge.

I forgot to do anything with it Tuesday night but Wednesday morning first thing I portioned the stock into jars and froze them.

So the problem? I just made a pot pie with some of the frozen stock, and I thought it tasted a little odd. It's not that it tastes spoiled, just very "chickeny"... there is a kind of weird taste in the background that I don't care for, almost instinctively. I'm wondering if it is from the leek? Or maybe the 3 hours off-heat is enough for it to spoil (considering it then went back to boil, though?), or could it just be that stock from a carcass will taste different?

So, should I eat the pie anyway? I'm kind of poor so I hate to throw it out, the only reason I would is if it was really spoiled...

  1. Gio Sep 13, 2012 07:22 AM

    Everything you did was OK ... except adding the vinegar. How did you happen to do this? That was your off taste. I've been making chicken broth practically forever and never added vinegar... BTW: If you have a slow cooker chicken broth can be made overnight safely and the outcome is delicious,

    28 Replies
    1. re: Gio
      emmeisix Sep 13, 2012 07:34 AM

      Oh, great idea! I do have a slow-cooker. I will do that next time... I kept having visions of the flame getting blown out and us all dying from natural gas inhalation (ok not very realistic, but...)

      I added the vinegar on a recommendation from a cookbook. The claim was that it would help get minerals out of the bones and make a healthier stock. Maybe I will cut that down or eliminate it next time...

      1. re: emmeisix
        ipsedixit Sep 13, 2012 07:44 AM

        The vinegar did not create the off "chicken-y" taste.

        It was most likely the chicken.

        1. re: ipsedixit
          w
          Willa Sep 19, 2012 07:36 PM

          I make chicken stock every couple of months and keep it in the freezer. Sometimes I cook it for a couple of days in a huge stock pot. I may let it cool. Strain. Add a few more chickens (my double or triple chicken stock) and simmer another day. It has to cool before it goes in the fridge and it takes a while. Three hours off the heat is very unlikely to be a problem. (Two days of forgotten turkey stock in the garage during a mild November would be a huge problem, as I learned last Thanksgiving when I tried to boil the scary looking bubbling liquid and use it for gravy. No I did not serve it.) The vinegar could certainly be a problem. My biggest issue is using a cooked carcass for the stock. It just doesn't produce much flavor. If I used a carcass, I would add a lot of chicken parts, wings, thighs, feet......and then why bother with the carcass? Turkey carcasses are different. They have more flavor. As to your question about the leek. I love leeks in my chicken stock but once I added too many of them and the flavor was just not great.

        2. re: emmeisix
          Davwud Sep 13, 2012 09:16 AM

          Slow cooker is the only way I make stock now. It's so easy and worry free.

          I let mine go 24hrs.

          DT

          1. re: Davwud
            c
            chinaplate Sep 13, 2012 09:26 AM

            Really? I did this once and got a grey bland stock. Smelled perfect but I think the lack of evaporation made for a watery not super exciting outcome.

            1. re: chinaplate
              Davwud Sep 13, 2012 10:57 AM

              You can always concentrate it after.

              DT

          2. re: emmeisix
            Ruthie789 Sep 14, 2012 07:48 AM

            Keep a look out for bargains on the stock pot. I got mine for $20.00 and it is so handy to have. Add some yellow onions with the skin on next time to your broth and you will get a golden broth. Your chicken might have developed a smell from being exposed to air, oxidized perhaps which does put on off smell on food.

          3. re: Gio
            ipsedixit Sep 13, 2012 07:38 AM

            Adding vinegar is quite common in making stocks. It helps dissolve the gelatin and leach out more minerals (e.g. calcium) from the bones.

            1. re: ipsedixit
              todao Sep 13, 2012 08:12 AM

              Learn something new every day ... Tnx

              1. re: ipsedixit
                EWSflash Sep 13, 2012 08:28 AM

                Would adding citric acid do the same thing?

                1. re: EWSflash
                  ipsedixit Sep 13, 2012 08:34 AM

                  Squeeze of lemon, a bit of wine, or vinegar all work. Even vodka.

                  1. re: ipsedixit
                    EWSflash Sep 13, 2012 08:50 AM

                    Then citric acid should work, right?

                    1. re: ipsedixit
                      FoodFuser Sep 13, 2012 09:02 AM

                      You've moved into two different solvents there, ipse. One is acetic acid acid, the other is ethanol. Both have their place in my stock extraction.

                    2. re: EWSflash
                      FoodFuser Sep 13, 2012 08:57 AM

                      Save the citric acid for dry applications. Vinegar is cheaper.

                    3. re: ipsedixit
                      chefj Sep 13, 2012 03:44 PM

                      I have never heard of this in 35 years in professional kitchens.

                      1. re: chefj
                        s
                        sr44 Sep 13, 2012 03:51 PM

                        I read about it in Adelle Davis's cookbook. She thought the vinegar would evaporate.

                        1. re: sr44
                          chefj Sep 13, 2012 04:03 PM

                          It may. I was just surprised that I had never heard of it in all those years.

                        2. re: chefj
                          Karl S Sep 13, 2012 05:25 PM

                          Well, I've heard and read it in many recipes and health columns for at least 20 years, FWIW.

                          1. re: Karl S
                            emmeisix Sep 14, 2012 08:36 AM

                            Yes I have never read it in a "gourmet" type cookbook, but it is mentioned in several of my diehard-whole-foodist type cookbooks. I'm not sure high mineral content adds to the flavor in a obviously positive way so maybe it's not as interesting to chefs?

                            1. re: emmeisix
                              ipsedixit Sep 14, 2012 08:38 AM

                              Many chefs, esp. in professional settings, make stock with an eye towards consumme, so they really care about appearance and clarity. Trying to leach out as many minerals as possible from bones, etc. sort of defeats that purpose.

                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                Karl S Sep 14, 2012 09:38 AM

                                Yes. Though I can still produce a reasonably clear consomme with via the raft method even though I included vinegar in the stock pot.

                                Also, some diehards will make a second batch of stock from the same set of bones. and the vinegar not be the best thing to add the first time if you want two shots at those bones.

                          2. re: chefj
                            w
                            Willa Sep 19, 2012 07:44 PM

                            I have never heard of using vinegar in stock either, and chicken stock is my big thing. I read about it all the time. Have been making it since my son was little and I had to work so much I felt like a terrible mom. I have used lemon zest or a little juice. I like that flavor but didn't know there was any reason for the acid. Why necessary to dissolve the gelatin? It dissolves when you heat the stock up again. I like adding chicken feet to my stock because of the added gelatin. And by the time my stock is done, I don't think there are any minerals left in the bones. I would not add vinegar. Ruthie is right about leaving the skins on the yellow onions for a deeper golden color. Browning some of the poultry parts before adding to the stock does that as well. She is also right about bargains in stock pots. For some reason, my huge All-Clad stock pot was only about $45. All-Clad sautee pans can run over $200!

                            1. re: Willa
                              Karl S Sep 20, 2012 06:59 AM

                              You could use any acid: it helps leach more minerals from the bones than without. White vinegar is usually recommended because it has the least noticeable flavor of an acid (other than tasting acidic), but you can use lemon juice.

                        3. re: Gio
                          LindaWhit Sep 14, 2012 10:02 AM

                          Slow cooker - YES. I've been doing this for several years and it's way easier. Sauté your mirepoix, dump that onto the chicken carcass(es) or other chicken bones, add a bouquet garni bag (I use a large bay leaf, cracked peppercorns, and some thyme leaves), fill with water, and let it go on low, covered, for 24 hours. Strain it into a large bowl, let it cool, skim the layer of fat that has risen to the top, and then spoon it into small 1- or 2-cup containers for freezing.

                          And I'd skip the vinegar as well. Have never heard of adding that. Try it once without, emmesix, and see if it's more to your liking.

                          1. re: LindaWhit
                            s
                            sedimental Sep 14, 2012 11:40 AM

                            This is almost exactly as I do it...same seasonings and the slow cooker for 24 (or more) hours. Except-

                            I use vinegar in mine for the added health benefit. Just a splash of natural apple cider vinegar, it doesn't take much. You don't taste it in the finished stock whatsoever. This is certainly for health reasons, not taste. Adding egg shells with the vinegar too -will add calcium to the stock with no taste difference as well.

                            Another benefit is the stock "gels" much better (thicker) than without the vinegar, IME. Put a splash in your crock next time Linda and see if you notice any difference.

                            1. re: sedimental
                              LindaWhit Sep 14, 2012 11:50 AM

                              Interesting, I've never had a problem with the stock "setting up" as it cools. It's always a loose Jello-like gel that I get after it sits in the downstairs fridge overnight. Allows me to skim off any fat that's risen to the top while cooling, and then it scoops out with a ladle to put into my freezer containers.

                              But I will try the apple cider vinegar next time. When you say "natural", how is that different from a store-brand of apple cider vinegar?

                              1. re: LindaWhit
                                s
                                sedimental Sep 14, 2012 12:00 PM

                                Yes, the stock sets up either way, but I think it is thicker with the vinegar. I might just have to do an experiment :)

                                I just buy the Braggs brand of vinegar- organic, cloudy, unfiltered kind (that you have to shake up) all that is in it is organic apples and water. I just prefer it (taste wise, health wise- and I like the company). I haven't used regular filtered store brands so I am not sure if they are as neutral taste or not. Might not make a difference but sometimes certain brands taste stronger than others.

                                1. re: sedimental
                                  Gio Jan 7, 2013 04:16 AM

                                  Thanks for mentioning this Sedimental. I always have the Bragg's apple cider in the pantry so I suppose I should try it in my next batch of stock. I made chicken stock 2 nights ago my usual way... like Linda's... and it gelled perfectly, as always, but the vinegar and egg shells are alien yet interesting additions for me.

                        4. todao Sep 13, 2012 07:46 AM

                          Except that I too don't see why you'd include vinegar in your chicken stock, I disagree almost entirely with the statement "Everything you did was OK.
                          Because I don't how much time elapsed between "after dinner" and "10PM" I can't say whether or not you waited longer than you should have to start the stock. You don't want to delay starting stock from a carcass very long if you wish to avoid the development of bacterial contamination.
                          Turning off the burner at 3AM and leaving a pot of stock for sit, covered, for three hours suggests a breeding ground for a lab experiment and depending on what might develop in that environment you're fortunate not to have become ill. Once food temperatures fall below 140 degrees you risk the production of bacteria that can prove dangerous. I'm acquainted with a cook who forgot a covered pot of chicken stock on the stove (burners off) in the morning and by 5 o'clock that evening it was impossible to lift the lid without gagging from the odor of the contaminated stock.
                          As for the undesirable flavor, could be the leeks but not everyone tastes foods in the same way so that's not identifiable.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: todao
                            emmeisix Sep 13, 2012 08:01 AM

                            Well, I haven't eaten the stock yet. Dinner was late in the day, and basically as soon as I ate (20 minutes after it came out), I cleaned the chicken (it was still really hot and kind of hard to do) & started the stock. It just took me a while to chop everything and bring it up to boil.

                            I guess I'm more worried about the 3 hour period. Starting from boiling, it would take (guessing) an hour or so to drop below 140... so is 2 hours at conducive temperatures enough to spoil? I kind of doubt it, given the usual food safety guidelines...

                            I guess it would help if I knew what soured stock smelled like... maybe I should leave some out on purpose. :)

                            1. re: emmeisix
                              emmeisix Sep 13, 2012 08:18 AM

                              Well, I ate some of pie and it was pretty darn good! I will let you know if I get violently ill later.

                              1. re: emmeisix
                                Davwud Sep 13, 2012 09:19 AM

                                If the pot was simmering with the lid on and you just turned it off and didn't take the lid off, it should have been sterilized. If it's a tight fitting lid that is.

                                Two weeks ago I made a huge pot of red beans and rice. The pot was way too big for my fridge so I brought it up to a good simmer, lidded it and turned off the heat about 5 minutes later. I didn't touch it for 2 days. It was perfectly fine.

                                DT

                          2. meatn3 Sep 13, 2012 08:02 AM

                            Provided the carcass and broth were kept within the safe zone, I think it was the use of the vinegar to soften the bones.

                            Have you had bone broth before? It has nutritive value but the taste is different than regular broth - more mineral flavor. You can achieve this without vinegar with a long slow simmer. I find the bones become very soft after 12+ hours in a slow crock pot.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: meatn3
                              emmeisix Sep 13, 2012 08:18 AM

                              Yeah, that may just be it. Also the stock was very thick from all the gelatin, and cloudy... it was definitely different than what I have gotten from boiling a chicken with an onion, for example.

                              1. re: meatn3
                                ipsedixit Sep 13, 2012 08:23 AM

                                But why avoid the vinegar? Any taste from the vinegar is cooked off by the time the stock is done. Vinegar simply speeds up the process.

                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                  meatn3 Sep 13, 2012 08:58 AM

                                  Just troubleshooting! I have been able to taste a very slight difference in flavor with vinegar - not enough to change the flavor substantially. At this point I'm leaning towards the mineral flavor being what emmeisix noticed.

                              2. r
                                rasputina Sep 13, 2012 08:44 AM

                                What herbs did you use?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: rasputina
                                  emmeisix Sep 13, 2012 08:59 AM

                                  Rosemary and Thyme, fresh (in the broth). For the chicken, I used the same plus dried Marjoram.

                                2. b
                                  Bkeats Sep 13, 2012 09:36 AM

                                  The stock is fine. There was an article about leaving stock out. Here's the link.

                                  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/24/din...

                                  Based on what you did and comparing to what the writer did, you're fine. I know others will pipe in that you should never take any risk and throw the stock out.

                                  I think though that you put in a lot of things that could have introduced unusual flavors to the stock. Onion, celery, leeks are typical. Vinegar is not typical. I just use a really long cooking time to extract everything. Rosemary isn't a usual herb. 15 cups of water is a lot for one chicken carcass. A entire head of garlic seems like way too much. A roiling boil will make stock cloudy. Low simmer will make for a clearer stock.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Bkeats
                                    emmeisix Sep 13, 2012 10:45 AM

                                    Good points. I did not know about the rolling vs simmering. I think next time I will do the crock pot, with less water (lower boil, less to boil off anyway), and skip he vinegar. So far, not sick, by the way. :)

                                    1. re: emmeisix
                                      b
                                      Bryan Pepperseed Sep 14, 2012 04:11 AM

                                      I use the crock pot all the time. Works great for me, but not all crocks are the same.
                                      Sometime before doing your next batch you might want to do a trial run with just water in order to determine what settings yours requires to a) get the temperature out of the danger zone in the proper amount of time and b) maintain a multi-hour simmer once out of the danger zone.
                                      if you have one of the newer crocks that run hotter than the old ones, you may end up having to prop the lid a bit to keep it from boiling or search the web to learn about alternative methods of crock pot temperature control.

                                    2. re: Bkeats
                                      team_cake Sep 13, 2012 05:40 PM

                                      I think BKeats has a point about the rosemary. Rosemary is a wonderful herb with roast chicken, but I'd be hesitant to simmer it for hours in a stock since it can get a soapy taste if overdone. If the OP doesn't think it's an off taste from the vinegar, I'd guess there was too much of a good thing -- rosemary.

                                      1. re: team_cake
                                        emmeisix Sep 14, 2012 08:34 AM

                                        That is very possible... "soapy" sounds very close to the off taste. I will definitely omit from the broth next time. Fortunately the taste was mild enough that it you couldn't really taste it in the pie. :)

                                        1. re: emmeisix
                                          greygarious Sep 19, 2012 11:48 PM

                                          Leeks can taste soapy, too. But having been disappointed with cooked bone stocks, even when there's a good bit of cooked meat on them, I now always add raw chicken when making stock. Without it, though the stock gels well, it is gray, weak in chicken flavor, and minerally-tasting (and that is without vinegar, which I have never used in stockmaking),

                                    3. b
                                      Brandon Nelson Sep 13, 2012 11:28 AM

                                      If you want very clear stock don't boil it. Boiling makes for cloudy stock.

                                      adding a little vinegar is fine. It will add to the depth of flavor. Don't use so much that the finished product tastes sour. It is quite common for asian chicken stocks to have some sort of rice vinegar.

                                      Next time cool the stock and get it into the fridge sooner. The recurring mention of bacterial growth in an environment between 40 and 140 degrees is a real concern.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Brandon Nelson
                                        w
                                        Willa Sep 19, 2012 07:51 PM

                                        Actually, if you put your stock pot off center on the burner, so that part of the pot is not on the heat, you can get the gently simmering stock to come up on the hot side of the pan and sort of roll over the ingredients down the cooler side of the pot, without boiling. Boiling will ruin the clarity.

                                      2. Karl S Sep 13, 2012 01:05 PM

                                        The problem was the boiling, rather than a bare simmer, for that length of time. I always add a bit of vinegar to my stock for the customary reasons, and it does not produce an off flavor, though I add just about a T for a gallon of water.

                                        1. t
                                          thistle5 Sep 13, 2012 01:43 PM

                                          I usually use the chicken/turkey carcass, covered w/ cold water, sometimes onion/ celery, a shot of vinegar, s&p, in a slow cooker for 5-10 hours, chill/cool quickly, skim, & freeze, unless I'm going to use it in the next day.

                                          1. s
                                            sandylc Sep 13, 2012 06:58 PM

                                            Potential issues: vinegar, garlic, boiling too hard, rosemary (can be nasty if boiled hard), leaving it out too long.

                                            I'm surprised no one has mentioned the garlic.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: sandylc
                                              emmeisix Sep 14, 2012 08:35 AM

                                              Is garlic non-standard? Too much?

                                              1. re: emmeisix
                                                s
                                                sandylc Sep 14, 2012 09:18 AM

                                                Others here may know more, but I have made stock for many years and have never put garlic in it...this seems to be too overpowering for delicate chicken stock. I don't think you will typically see it in stock recipes, either. I'm sure someone here will correct me if I'm wrong on this ;-( !

                                                One other thing - did you include the pan juices in your stock? Sometimes when we decide to eat our lovely pan juices with our chicken, the stock suffers from lack of flavor that these juices would have contributed!

                                                1. re: sandylc
                                                  Karl S Sep 14, 2012 09:42 AM

                                                  I normally use garlic in chicken stock, but then again even without garlic I find chicken stock to be the least delicate of the standard meat stocks in the sense that it has the most identifiable flavor. I normally dilute it with another stock before using it if I don't want the chicken-ness to be too forward.

                                                2. re: emmeisix
                                                  b
                                                  Bkeats Sep 14, 2012 09:48 AM

                                                  Too much. I don't know of too many recipes for anything that would require an entire head of garlic. I usually add 2-3 cloves.

                                              2. l
                                                LJS Sep 14, 2012 10:02 AM

                                                I am another advocate of the crock pot and avoider of both vinegar and garlic.

                                                I save up ALL my chicken bones and scraps, both raw and cooked, in the freezer and pop the lot into a large crock-pot/slow-cooker when I have enough.

                                                I add 1 or 2 chopped carrot(s) and 1 halved onion, a few peppercorns and a bay leaf. Oh, and cold water to the top of the bones. I never bother to thaw the carcasses/bones/scraps.

                                                I am intrgued by one posters idea of keeping it going for 24 hours...my maximum so far is over night, so perhaps 12-14 hours...and that is perfect. A nice, strong stock, but not overwhelmingly 'chickeny' so it can be used for rice, soups, stews of the poultry or beef, lamb or pork variety.

                                                I simply strain out the solids and pop the broth in the fridge so I can de-fat easily.

                                                For years, I used the stove-top method, with twee little bags of herbs or persnickety parcels of parsley, rosemary, and thyme attached with kitchen twine. I checked religiously for simmer versus boil. Complete waste of time (and thyme, come to think of it...).

                                                I am not a huge fan of slow-cookers overall, but this they do brilliantly!

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: LJS
                                                  Karl S Sep 14, 2012 11:25 AM

                                                  I only use a pressure cooker nowadays (which, if one wants to sustain a boil, is the better approach because you're only doing it for 30-45 mins). In addition to peppercorns and bay, chicken stock gets a clove; beef stock gets an allspice berry. Chicken stock also gets a parsnip, less carrot; generally, the chief problem with most stocks is too many carrots.

                                                  1. re: Karl S
                                                    l
                                                    LJS Sep 14, 2012 11:44 AM

                                                    Too many carrots?!? What an idea--I am shocked!!!

                                                    No, seriously, I see what you mean...will try the parsnip (a much over-looked veggie that I grow in my own garden) and I do love cloves.

                                                    I will trade you a tip, Karl...if you ever make spice cookies or cake, do not use jarred ground cloves, but freshly grind (mortar and pestle) your own...makes a world of difference to end result.

                                                    I do not own a pressure cooker...but my daughter does, so I will borrow hers for a stock-making trial and see if it is worth getting over my lingering fear of PC's blowing up...they used to when I was a kid.

                                                    1. re: LJS
                                                      Karl S Sep 14, 2012 12:00 PM

                                                      Yes, indeed, too many carrots. This is especially true for vegetable stocks (which also can suffer from too many mushrooms), but also chicken stocks are a likely victim. No more than 2 large carrots for the stock made in the typical stovetop quantity. Period. If you want more for soup made later, add them then, but not when making the stock. And I do include celery, but again not too much. People go to town with carrot because they want the color it gives (onion skins should suffice with that on the vegetable end of things), but too many carrots make stock unbalanced in flavor. I do crush whole cloves when I want the most vibrant flavor, but where clove needs to be subdued, pre-ground actually can work better. I am not a BIGGER! BOLDER! FLAVOR! kinda guy because I am something of a supertaster.

                                                      Clove doesn't work as well in beef/veal stocks, but I find a single allspice berry can round out the flavors nicely, even though I don't recall ever seeing that in a cookbook or recipe: I have certainly seen cloves in chicken stock recipes (that and the parsnip as well as garlic are common in Jewish-American chicken soup protocols), but it didn't translate to beef stock, so I wondered if something would, and the single allspice berry was a happy find in that regard. I am sure professional chefs would be horrified.

                                                2. paulj Sep 14, 2012 01:02 PM

                                                  I question the use of 15c of water with one carcass. I use enough water to cover, usually getting about 1 qt of stock per carcass. I end up judging the quality of the stock by the consistency of the gelled stock - the stiffer the better.

                                                  With less water the process of bringing it to a boil, and later, cooling down, is quicker.

                                                  Why should a 'chickeny' taste be wrong in chicken stock? What are you comparing it to? Other homemade stock, or store bought?

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: paulj
                                                    w
                                                    Willa Sep 19, 2012 09:57 PM

                                                    No garlic. No vinegar. Be careful not to add too many leeks. And don't add too many carrots. Careful with the rosemary. Turnips and parsnips have strong flavor as well. You can even screw it up if you add too much parsley or celery. But you need all of those things (except the garlic and vinegar, for my recipe). Just today I learned the value and elegance of the single allspice berry. No kidding. My sister brought me some of her soup because I was working and had no food. It was light and just delicious. Almost like a Pho. What was that flavor? I had to know. The allspice berry added an intriguing but subtle flavor and fragrance that made the soup irresistable.

                                                    I poke a few whole cloves into one or two yellow onions, with skin attached for flavor and color. No boiling. I don't like a cloudy stock. Lots of chicken parts. Necks are great. Go to the asian market for this stuff. Very plentiful and inexpensive. A few turkey parts add delicious flavor. Chicken feet. People disagree about how rich the stock should be. I like it really rich and a deep golden color, very clear, and gelatinous when cooled. So I slow simmer a giant pot (one of my favorite possessions) of poultry parts and whole birds, veggies, good water, herbs, whole peppercorns, one or two allspice berries -- at least a day. Depends on my other activities. Two days is the norm for me.

                                                    The process of making chicken stock is therapeutic for me. If I am working at home drafting or preparing for court, my stress level is greatly reduced if I am simmering stock while I work. Yes! This is what aromatherapy is all about! I love watching all of the parts and pieces in the pot relax, fall apart and come together. The fragrance is gentle but morphs each day as the flavors meld. I am calm. From time to time I leave my work to tend to my soup stock. I skim any foam off the top (pitch it) and skim the clear chicken fat floating on top to use for matzo balls or other recipes. Don't take all of the fat. Little beads of oil from the dissolved chicken fat float on top of the stock and glisten under the light. The ingredients underwater slowly become unrecognizable. The color is clear and golden. I let the pot simmer while I sleep. Very low simmer. Nice dreams.

                                                    After a day or two, when I am good and ready, I strain it a few times through cheesecloth layers in a strainer that is placed inside of a SECOND BIG POT. The second pot is an obvious but important step. Once, my teenage son watched in horrified disbelief, so shocked he could not speak, as I hoisted the heavy pot confidently, showing off like a pro (look what your mom can do besides practice law), and poured the precious stock into the strainer and right down the drain. It all happened so fast. Poor boy had been waiting days for his steaming bowl of soup. He simply could not believe I had done such a stupid thing. Indeed.

                                                    Back to the stock process. I have successfully strained my stock into another vessel. All of the chicken and veggies in that first step are mush. I throw them out. Then I bring the stock back to temperature, slowly. Add one or two brand new, room temperature whole chickens to the broth. Oh, yes -- I salt the chicken meat before it goes in the pot this time. The meat will be used for soup or otherwise, and the salt will give it flavor it will not get if you salt it after it is done. Maybe more veggies, if you think so. Those chickens cook only until the meat is perfectly done but not dry. The bones should be relaxed and loose. You might have to take the birds out in quarter pieces because the thighs and legs might fall off as you pick up a boiled chicken. Yummy. I fish them out of the stock and let them cool in a big pasta bowl until they can be handled. It's time to pull the meat of the bones. My son loves to help me at this stage because perfectly boiled chicken is so good to eat all by itself. (clean hands, yes). I freeze the stock in pint and quart-sized containers.

                                                    But first, I leave some of the stock out of the freezer for fresh soup. When I assemble the soup, I cook sliced carrots and celery in the stock. The cooked chicken pieces go in at the end. We like big pieces of meat that we have pulled off the bird. Not diced breast. Noodles cook separately and go in at the end, in the individual bowls to taste. If you add them to the whole pot, they suck up the stock and get soggy. Finely chopped fresh parsley as a garnish. Sometimes, I like to chop sugar snap peas into 1/4 inch pieces and throw a few on top of the hot soup, as a garnish. They turn bright green and need no further cooking. Fava beans are really delicious in the chicken soup too, but more work.

                                                    The rest of the stock is a base for about anything that calls for stock or flavor. You can always thin it out if you don't like a deep, rich chicken broth.

                                                    My son is grown up now. He thinks I should market and sell my chicken stock. Or open a little store-front restaurant -- Soup and Pie. Chicken noodle and matzo ball soup. Alternate other available soups. White bean, chicken and poblano chili. Cream of cauliflower soup with fresh nutmeg. Chicken consomme with tiny vegetables and fresh morels in season. Puree of carrot or beet soup with orange zest. Wild turkey and wild rice soup. Curried pumpkin soup. Cream of spinach soup with tomato and ricotta dumplings. Split pea. Spring pea soup garnished with creme fraiche. Hot and sour soup. Tom Ka Kai. Chicken and wheatberry soup with ditalini pasta and parmesan cheese. Soba noodle soup. Vegetarian options, such as a beautiful tomato soup with tomatoes from my garden. Throw in a thai curry of the day. Or, a stew. Chicken pie. Not all of these at once. Every day is different and manageable. Always, a good, chewy bread and butter. A simple salad.

                                                    Speaking of pie....Michigan sour cherry pie with lattice top crust. Rich and creamy Valhrona chocolate pie.....ummm. Custard pie. Alsatian apple pie with custard apple filling. Brown butter and walnut pie.....Black raspberry and black bottom pie. Strawberry rhubarb pie made with Michigan fruit in season. Perfect Michigan blueberry pie.

                                                    And I dream on. Back to work.

                                                    1. re: Willa
                                                      j
                                                      Jerseygirl111 Sep 19, 2012 11:55 PM

                                                      I was hypnotized by your post. I could read it aloud to a baby I was rocking to sleep...

                                                      1. re: Jerseygirl111
                                                        w
                                                        Willa Sep 20, 2012 12:12 AM

                                                        Not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.....writing about it relaxed me to the point of desperately wanting to sleep -- but I have work to do before morning.

                                                        1. re: Jerseygirl111
                                                          LindaWhit Sep 20, 2012 05:58 AM

                                                          Like Tom Selleck reading something in Sports Illustrated to the baby in "Three Men and a Baby":

                                                          Peter Mitchell: [reading a review of a boxing match in a hushed, storytelling way] The champ caught Smith with a savage left hook...

                                                          Michael Kellam: What are you reading her?

                                                          Peter Mitchell: [responding to Michael in same tone] It doesn't matter what I read, it's the tone you use. She doesn't understand the words anyway, now where were we?

                                                        2. re: Willa
                                                          j
                                                          Jeweliana Jan 6, 2013 04:53 PM

                                                          Oh my goodness. I wouldn't say I was so much hypnotized as mesmerized by the idea of all those delectable soups and luscious pies -- I could see them in all their dreamy perfection, and wanted to visit this imaginary soup and pie cafe immediately.

                                                          And that's considering that I'm a fairly serious soup and dessert maker myself, who makes some of the ones you've mentioned as well as a great wine-laced ribollita, red posole, winter borscht, moroccan lamb harira, lentil with spinach, smoky black bean, corn chowder with multicolored peppers, and on and on...

                                                          ...and then, of course, there was the description of your pies...(pulls herself together to continue typing)

                                                          Susan, are you writing a cookbook anytime soon? Are your recipes going to be available to those of us who are left staring blankly at the computer screen?

                                                      2. t
                                                        Tudor_rose Sep 20, 2012 07:24 AM

                                                        I make my chicken stock from air chilled chicken backs which I obtain at Whole Foods for very little money (in comparison to their other air chilled parts). I also add a few whole cloves of garlic, a sliced in half small unpeeled onion, and a carrot. I use a pressure cooker, which gets the whole thing done in about an hour. I pressurize it for 40 minutes, and let the pressure release itself which takes another 20 minutes. I then strain, and I get a nice gelatinous stock. I freeze and use for later use. Chicken stock is the greatest thing, and nothing sold in the store compares. I used to use whole carcasses, but they take up too much space in my pressure cooker, and the backs are just perfect. They contain bone, skin and meat. I obtained the best chicken stock using the backs. It takes about three backs to make a gallon of stock. Do not add salt, since you may need to add this to another recipe, and you don't want to have to adjust the salt later. I also get a nice fat layer on top of this stock which can be thrown away or used for a roux, or something else.

                                                        1. p
                                                          Puffin3 Jan 7, 2013 05:31 AM

                                                          Making stock from a chicken carcass, as has been mentioned already isn't going to give you much flavor. "Boiling" for hours with vinegar added doesn't sound right IMO. Celery will add a bitter note to any stock. Salt and vinegar in boiling water?
                                                          I think you ought to rethink your approach from the beginning next time. It feels like you were a bit 'rough' in your approach generally.
                                                          There's a beautiful scene, if you're a 'foodie', in the movie 'Tampopo'. where she makes her soup stock in her noodle shop. She puts some raw pork bones and a raw whole chicken and a hand full of large spring onions in a large pot to simmer for hours. Later in a nightmare she sees that she has fallen asleep and allowed the stock to boil which basically ruined the stock.
                                                          Never 'boil' any stock. Start with cold water and 'bring to a boil' then turn down the heat to allow a slow simmer. If you slide the stock pot just off the burner a bit you'll set up a vertical 'convection' that will move whatever needs skimming to the cool side of the pot making skimming more effective.
                                                          I'm an 'Escoffier' fan and I follow his stock/sauce recipes to the letter. For me it's fun. I can go to a lot of websites and recipe books for advice on making a stock but it's like if I have a chance to drive a Ferrari or a Chevy I'll go with the Ferrari. IMO Escoffier is the Ferrari when it comes to making classic stocks/sauces.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: Puffin3
                                                            paulj Jan 7, 2013 09:31 AM

                                                            The 'dont boil' business has more to do with clarity of the stock than its flavor. Some people like to make their stock in a pressure cooker.

                                                            1. re: paulj
                                                              chefj Jan 7, 2013 04:41 PM

                                                              And the Pressure Cooker Stock is very clear.

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