Get Baked Basics: Chicken Stock

Hey-o. So how’d your cornish game hens turn out? Phenomenally, I trust. I bet afterwards you were standing in your kitchen, staring disdainfully at a heap of vegetable trimmings and hen carcasses, thinking “What in the name of Peggy Olson am I supposed to do with all this shit now, huh? Thanks for NOTHING, Autostraddle!” WELL. Rather than filling your compost bin with refuse and tears, you would be wise to take all of that mess and make a bangin’ chicken stock!

Homemade stock is easy, it’s cheap, and it’s infinitely more delicious than anything you can get at the store. I saved the vegetable trimmings and bones from the hen earlier this week, and also had a chicken carcass leftover from a delicious Greek lemon-chicken stew that I made using this buzzfeed recipe. To supplement all this, I picked up a chicken spine at Whole Foods earlier tonight for under a dollar. I think it’s nice when all the different birds can end up in the same stock together.

get baked stock ingredients

Ingredients

Chicken carcass and bits, blanched and refreshed
1 medium onion, studded with 2-3 whole cloves
Whites of 2 leeks, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
2-3 celery stalks, chopped
2 cups button mushrooms, chopped
1 bouquet garni (leek leaf, bay leaves, thyme sprigs, parsley stems)
2 1/2 quarts of water

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Start by ensuring your chicken bones and bits are all ready to go. If you want to be extra diligent, blanch them first by tossing them in boiling water for a few minutes (I did not do this). Throw them in your biggest sauce pot and add your chopped carrots, celery, mushroom, leeks, and bouquet garni. Peel your onion and stud it with 2-3 whole cloves and toss that in.

get baked studded onion

sputnik

A “bouquet garni” is a seasoning bundle that consists of a bay leaf, 2-3 thyme sprigs, and a few parsley stems wrapped in a leek leaf and tied with a string.

get baked bouquet garni

a “garnished bouquet,” as it were

Cover the whole mess with 2-3 quarts of cold water. Bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, skim the surface of the stock to remove impurities. Lower the heat to a simmer and monitor, skimming the surface as necessary, for 1 1/2 hours. Contrary to what you might think, stock isn’t better the longer you leave it; you shouldn’t leave this stock on for more than 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

stock timelapse

Prepare an ice bath. When your stock is ready, turn off the heat and strain it through a wire mesh sieve into a large bowl over your ice bath; this will lower its temperature quickly and reduce the risk of bacteria.

get baked pouring

this was as awkward as it looks

Once cooled, separate it into containers. It will keep for about a week in the fridge and about a month in the freezer. Use it in any recipe that calls for chicken stock and be amazed by the difference!

get baked ladling

bcw has written 15 articles for us.

20 Comments

  1. I just came to commend you on your stock photography tagline. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
    I’m now curious as to whether there actually is, a “stock” category, in stock photo libraries. I very much hope so…

  2. MARNI I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU MADE ME STOCK. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

    is this the awkward moment where i tell everyone that my secret dream is for my girlfriend to grow up to be just like marni? i think it is. guys, i have a confession: i am really hoping my girlfriend grows up to be just like marni!

    also i have a teeny tiny question that, unlike my question on the cornish game hen get baked, does not require an entire follow up post, but — this bouquet garni thing? is it something we manually put together? or can one purchase it? is this so dumb? i’m sorry i thought i was a good cook but then i read your get bakeds and i realized i have so much more to learn.

    also also also — thank you for including photos of yourself cooking. because duh.

    • Yes, plus more veggies! You can use all kinds of different vegetables to make veggie stock, substituting or adding whatever you like, varying by season – funky mushrooms, tomatoes, etc. Use lots of onions. Veggie stock doesn’t need as long so bring everything to a boil over high heat, simmer/skim for 45 minutes before straining over an ice bath.

      I haven’t made a lot of veggie stock but this is what I used the one time I did (it’s from this awesome book called Sauces by Michel Roux (also what I used as a reference for the chicken stock):

      3 carrots chopped in rounds
      Whites of 2 leeks thinly sliced
      2 celery stalks thinly sliced
      1/2 very thinly sliced bulb fennel
      1 heaping cup sliced shallots
      2/3 cup thinly sliced onion
      2 unpeeled garlic cloves
      1 bouquet garni
      1 cup dry white wine
      2 quarts water
      10 white peppercorns, crushed and wrapped in cheesecloth (add these only during the last ten minutes of simmering)

    • ok i’ve always felt really confused and weird about freezing things like this in ice trays, which i realize is silly now that i’m typing it out, but i’m wondering — after they freeze, do you pop them out and put them in a ziploc bag or something? how do you keep them from smelling up the entire freezer/fridge? teach me your ways!

      • You’ve got the basic idea down, freeze in trays until solid, pop out and store. We usually do a portion in Ziploc bags for easy access and vacuum deal the bulk (not necessary but we’re pretty “enthusiastically domestic”). Same method works for lots of things like pureed Chipotle peppers, pesto, fresh herbs in olive oil really anything you can cram in an ice cube tray. We find having affordable sodium free flavour shots on hand really helps take the blah out of just about everything we cook.

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