Chicken stock? Or chicken broth? When I set out to write this post, I realized that I had no idea what the distinction was (if any). I figured that if I didn’t know the answer, you may not know the answer either. So let’s fix that right now, shall we?
I could bore you with all the different “opinions” out there as to who believes what is what in the stock v. broth debate. And yes, there is debate. But lemme make it real simple for you:
Broth is the result of cooking meat and vegetables for a few hours in water. Stock is the result of cooking bones, skin, and other meat scraps, along with vegetables, for a few hours in water. I’ve seen some sources say that broth is seasoned, whereas stock is not. If that’s the case, then the recipe that follows is a stock/broth hybrid.
So why chicken stock/broth?
I like to buy pre-made, roasted chicken from the supermarket. It makes for a quick and relatively healthy protein for a meal. And it lasts a while between myself and the husband. But what are we left with after finishing the edible and usable meat? Skin and bones, and some little bits of meat that aren’t exactly palatable, but full of chicken flavor.
I also find myself buying a whole stalk of celery, only to use two or three ribs for a recipe at any given time. So the unused celery sits in the back of my fridge, forgotten. Until I think “oooh, I’ll have some celery with peanut butter!” Then I go to the fridge and remember that I bought that celery 2 weeks ago. And now it’s spongy and wilted. What a waste.
Same goes for carrots. I always buy waaay too many. I don’t know why I do it. It’s a sickness. Either way, I forget about the carrots until I need them only to find that they’ve become slimy or they’ve cracked beyond recognition. I have the same problem with parsley, and fennel, and herbs.
Instead of letting the celery, carrots, fennel, and herbs go to waste, I wash them, cut them up and freeze them for use in a stock/broth in a one gallon freezer bag. I also freeze the chicken carcass on its own in a gallon freezer bag. Once my veggie bag is full, I get to making my stock/broth.
When freezing your veggies, make sure you prep them first. By that, I mean wash them, remove the inedible parts (like the stem of the carrots, the root ends of the celery), and cut them into 1-2 inch pieces. The stock is not supposed to be a garbage disposal of veggies. They still need to be good. So don’t grab that 2 week old stalk of celery sitting in the back of the fridge and add it to your stock bag. It will NOT taste good.
Why, you ask? Because when we freeze food, we’re trying to maintain the flavor quality that exists at the time of freezing. You’re freezing the goodness that already exists to preserve it for later use. And this is especially so when you’re freezing veggies to make stock/broth. Those veggies are meant to flavor the water. I’m pretty sure you don’t want to “flavor” your water with old, flavorless celery.
Making this stock/broth will take a while, but it’s mostly passive. You’ve already done the hard work of cleaning the veggies and cutting them up before you threw them in the freezer. All you have to do now is grab a stock pot, water, and a couple of fresh ingredients and let that simmer away for a few hours.
Special tools: you will need a 6-8 quart stock pot. It’s a necessary kitchen tool for soups, stews, and stocks. You’ll also need a colander and a strainer, and a large bowl or another stock pot to strain your liquid into.
Got your special tools? Let’s get at it.
Homemade Chicken Stock/Broth
Makes 3 quarts
- 1 roasted chicken, meat removed
- Few ribs of celery and their leaves (about 8) (frozen)
- Few carrots (about 5) (frozen)
- Bunch of parsley (frozen)
- Fennel stem and fronds (1-2) (frozen)
- 2 white onions, peeled and quartered
- 1 head of garlic, sliced in half crosswise
- 4 quarts of filtered water
- ½ c. dry sherry wine (optional)
- 2 bay leaves (optional)
- Salt (optional)
First, you’ll notice that I don’t have exact measurements on the frozen veggies. That’s because I’m just collecting what I want to keep from going bad over the course of a few weeks. Sometimes there will be more carrots, more celery, etc. It doesn’t have to be an exact science.
I also didn’t freeze my onions or garlic. That’s because they keep well out of the freezer and I usually have some on hand at all times.
I wrote that some ingredients are “optional” because they are seasonings for the stock. If you want to keep it plain, don’t add those. I like sipping on stock/broth for a meal, so I like to flavor mine.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to use fennel stems and fronds. I happen to like the flavor. The requirement though is your “mirepoix” which consists of carrots, celery, and onion.
Throw all of your ingredients in the stock pot, covered, and set on high until it boils. Because you have a lot of frozen ingredients, it will take some time to reach the boiling point. But it will get there, I promise.
Once it boils, uncover it and let it simmer for 4 hours. No need to watch it intently, but keep an eye on it. I set a timer every hour to stir it around and see how it’s doing.
After about 4 hours, you’ll see that the liquid will reduce by about ¼. Turn off the heat. Place the colander over your bowl or another pot for straining out the solids. Using a slotted spoon, start scooping the solids into the colander. Once the solids are mostly out, start carefully pouring the liquid into the colander with the solids. Once the liquid is drained into the bowl or pot, set aside the colander and toss out the solids.
Place your fine mesh strainer over the original stock pot you used to boil the stock/broth. Carefully pour the liquid through the strainer into the original stock pot. Divide the liquid evenly among 3 individual quart containers. Allow to sit for about a half hour and skim the fat at the top. Then cover and freeze; or place in the fridge for immediate use.
Please try this out and let me know how it works out for you. Mine turned out delicious!