Chicken stock - here's what I have; what now?
First, keep in mind that the stock will be used to replace water while cooking, such as when cooking rice. It will not be the base for soup.
I have the carcasses of 4 roasted chickens, the giblets bags from 3 of the chickens, a few carrots with their green tops, half an onion, 2 small garlic cloves, salt, peppercorns, bay leaves, and some fresh herbs--savory, lemon basil, and rosemary.
1.) Do I need anything else or more of what I already have--celery, leeks, parsley, more onion or garlic? Do the herbs I have work for stock? How much do I need for the number of carcasses I have?
2.) Should I use the giblets, and if so, all of them or do I remove the liver? Should I cook the giblets first, and if so, how--roast, pan fry?
3.) How much water do I use--enough to cover everything, or a certain measured amount? And how long should I simmer?
Most recipes I've read require using a whole or parts of chicken and give conflicting advice, so I'm hoping you can help me. Thanks.
Others may have differing opinions, but I would leave the giblets out of your planned stock, as their flavor is very strong and distinctive. Also, I'd go to a full onion. Haven't ever used lemon basil, so have no opinion on it. The rest of the herbs seem fine, although I'd add thyme if you have it.
I agree, the giblets absolutely ruin a good stock. "Strong and distinctive" is a very diplomatic way of putting it. :) If you like them, cook them separately and add them to a finished dish.
I would skip the lemon basil as well. If you want it in your finished dish, add it then (I actually feel that way about all of the herbs since a more neutral stock is more flexible and useful.)
I'm good with the giblets -- I almost always add them, because we like the flavor. Don't bother pre-cooking.
Herbs sound good -- rosemary can go in at beginning, but I'd hold the savoury and lemon basil until the last minute - they're too delicate to hold up to the long cooking.
I'd use 2 of the carcasses - -that will make a LOT of stock. Freeze the other two.
I agree to up it to a whole onion (if a half is all you've got -- oh well...this isn't a precise science)
Throw it all in the biggest pot you have, add water to cover, and let it simmer as long as you have patience to let it go -- 3-4 hours at a minimum. I use a steamer basket, opened out and inverted over the whole mess to keep everything submerged.
Stock is one of the easiest things out there to make -- bung it all in a pot, cover it with water, and simmer for hours.
I agree in part. I'd use all the carcasses, and the giblets (not cooked separately) without the livers. Liver affects the flavor and color. I save the livers to dice and saute as part of chicken stuffing. If you have more onion, use it. If you have a pressure cooker, use that; water to cover solids, whether in a PC or regular pot.
Here's more advice to confuse you. I detest the flavor of onion that hasn't been sweated in a little oil before using to make stock, so I always do that first. I also brown the carcasses before adding the water, but you don't have to do this. It just adds a nice flavor if you do.
After that, cover the carcasses and veggies with water (don't add any fresh herbs at this point), toss in some salt and simmer, skimming the foam off for the first 1/2 hour of simmering. Then keep simmering until it tastes like chicken stock. Don't add water or it will dilute the flavor. You can always do this later depending on how you want to use the stock.
I always hack the bones up a bit with a cleaver so more marrow and gelatin are released. I'd skip the herbs, too. IMO they'll make the stock too "specific" and lose their brightness in all that cooking. I've also noticed if I cook lemon basil in with certain grains, they often ends up tasting soapy.