Basic Chicken Stock
"Mastering Stocks and Broths: A Comprehensive Culinary Approach Using Traditional Techniques and No-Waste Methods"
“This basic chicken stock should be light in flavor and texture. It is intended as an all-purpose base—you can even use it in place of vegetable stock. If you require a richer white chicken stock, simply reduce the liquid until it attains a deep yellow-orange hue.” –Rachael Mamane in her 2018 Beard Award–nominated Mastering Stocks and Broths: A Comprehensive Culinary Approach Using Traditional Techniques and No-Waste Methods.
- 6 pounds chicken bones (necks and backs), preferably pastured
- 1 pound chicken feet, preferably pastured (optional)
- 4 quarts filtered water, cold
- Water for rinsing and/or blanching
- 2 quarts ice cubes
- 1/2 pound white onions, cut into large dice
- 1 pound leeks, dark green parts removed, cut into large dice
- 1/2 pound carrots, cut into large dice
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 8 black peppercorns
- Sea salt to taste
Rinse the chicken bones and chicken feet under cold water until the water runs clear. Make sure that all visible blood is removed from the bones. Check the bones to locate and remove any organs that might still be attached. The rinsing of blood and removal of organs will help eliminate proteins that could cloud your stock.
If the water does not become clear from rinsing, blanch the bones before proceeding. To do this, place the chicken bones, not including the feet, in a large stockpot, and add enough cold water to cover the bones by a few inches. Turn the heat to medium-high, and slowly heat the liquid. Using a fine-mesh strainer, skim any scum that rises to the surface. When the liquid starts to ripple, before it breaks into a boil, remove the pot from the heat. Do not boil the liquid; boiling in this first stage will extract flavor that should be preserved for the long simmer.
Drain the bones in a large colander and rinse under cold water. Thoroughly clean the same pot. Return the bones to the pot and add the chicken feet. Top with filtered water. Heat the pot over medium-high, and slowly bring the liquid to a tremble, skimming as soon as scum appears. When the liquid ripples, reduce the heat to medium-low and maintain a simmer, or smile. Never let the liquid boil as impurities will be sucked to the bottom of the pot and emulsify into the liquid during the long simmering time.
Continue to skim as necessary while the water is rising in temperature. When the liquid comes to a gentle boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, add the ice and skim to remove the thickened fat. Continue to skim while the bones are simmering; the first hour of simmering is when most of the impurities will be apparent. A well-skimmed liquid will prevent impurities from emulsifying the stock. Simmer for 2 hours, skimming often.
When the bones have completed their initial simmering time, add the onions, leeks, carrots, thyme, parsley, bay leaves, and peppercorns to the pot, and slowly return the liquid to a simmer. The aromatics will rise to the top, making it more difficult to skim, though it is important to continue the clarifying process. Skim by capturing particles that gather near the bubbling part of the liquid, leaving the vegetables to simmer mostly undisturbed.
Simmer until the vegetables are cooked through but not broken down, skimming often, about 90 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the pot on the stove to rest, about 10 minutes. Any floating particles will settle to the bottom of the pot during this resting period.
Set a fine-mesh strainer over a container large enough to hold the liquid contents of the pot. Line the strainer with cheesecloth. Carefully ladle the stock from the pot into the strainer, stopping short of, and discarding, any cloudy stock toward the bottom of the pot. Periodically remove the solids that accumulate in the basket to minimize impurities that could be forced through the strainer. Taste the stock and season it with sea salt.
Chill the stock in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally to expedite the cooling process. Refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze in smaller containers for longer storage.
Recipe adapted from Rachael Mamane's book Mastering Stocks and Broths: A Comprehensive Culinary Approach Using Traditional Techniques and No-Waste Methods (Chelsea Green, 2017) and are printed with permission from the publisher.