Comprehensive Chicken Stock Guide
Chicken stock is one of the most important recipes you can master as a cook. It is versatile, inexpensive, and there is nothing quite like the aroma of chicken stock simmering on the stove. It is your base for many dishes and I always ensure that I have some on hand as it freezes very well.
Chicken stock is easy to prepare and doesn’t take as long as beef stock. The difficulty in making chicken stock isn’t the process, but the preparation required in advance. Buying whole chickens, breaking them down and saving the bones is cost-effective and useful, but can take up much more time than most people have. Making a plan of action on a week-to-week basis can help you keep on top of your chicken stock supply.
Recommended Tools and Resources
Before you venture out to start making chicken stock, it is important that you have the proper tools and equipment. I have a list of recommended products from Amazon that I have hand-picked. Whenever you click through these links and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no cost to you. If you choose to use our links, thank you for your support.
The backbone of any good kitchen is a proper stockpot. It does not have to be expensive to be great.
Don’t forget that after the stock is done, you will need to transfer it to another pot. That means you will need two of similar capacity. To see our recommended product on Amazon, click here.
At the end of cooking, you will need to strain out the mirepoix and chicken bones. Having a proper strainer is a necessity. We recommended a chinois and you can check out our recommended product on Amazon by clicking here.
What Are Some Uses for Using Chicken Stock?
The versatility of chicken stock makes it a suitable substitution for water in almost every circumstance. Use your chicken stock in a variety of ways including
- As a soup base
- Deglazing a pan
- Thinning or thickening a sauce
A great tip for using chicken stock is to have it in a sauce bottle so it is easily accessible. I use it when pan-frying food to give it flavor and to deglaze. I use it primarily to avoid the use of water in whatever I am cooking. This is why I enjoy having
Combining chicken stock and tomato paste is a great way to enhance your tomato sauces. Using chicken stock in place of water when making rice can make a huge difference. Chicken stock is also used in rice pilaf and risotto.
The problem many people have with stocks is they take too long and they take up way too much space in the freezer or fridge. While valid concerns, you should always plan ahead if you have a big meal to cook for friends and family and set time aside to prepare your desired amount of stock required beforehand.
Chicken stock is used in so much. A good (chicken) stock is the base for a great soup, gravy, sauce, and general flavor. You can use it in place of water for many recipes to add depth and character to your meals. Learning how to make chicken stock isn’t hard.
Sourcing Chicken Bones for Chicken Stock
Many things in the culinary world are borne from necessity and availability. Stocks are no different and although the times have changed and what we use on a regular basis is different, there is still a good precedent for using stocks regularly.
Sourcing chicken bones for a stock can be difficult if you are new to making stock. Stocks came about as a thrifty way to use leftover parts and food trim. Chicken stock should still be viewed in this manner rather than something grandiose or central to your focus.
Creating Your Own Supply of Chicken Bones
Many of the expensive cuts of chicken found in grocery stores are only expensive because of the labor involved in breaking them down and removing things like the skin and bones. A great source of chicken bones is buying whole chickens or partially broken down chickens and finish the processing yourself. Not only is this cheaper, but it provides a healthy supply of chicken bones that you can use right away.
Finding a Chicken Bone Supplier
Another option is to seek out a butcher or grocery store meat department to see if they are able to sell you excess chicken bones. They should be available to be had for cheap, as they would likely just throw them out. I enjoy building a good relationship with my butcher as it is beneficial for both parties.
How to Cool, Store and Freeze Chicken Stock
Before you get too excited and begin venturing into making your first chicken stock, it is important to understand the logistics of cooling, storing, and freezing the chicken stock.
Cooling Chicken Stock
When the chicken stock comes strained hot off the burner, you want to avoid putting the stock directly into the fridge as this can cause the chicken stock’s flavor to spoil. You want to bring it to room temperature as quickly as possible and then store it in the fridge or freezer.
The best way to achieve this is with a water bath. This means to place the stock and container into a bath of cold water. This will cool down the chicken stock quickly while minimizing the amount of time it stays in the danger temperature zone.
Once the stock has achieved the proper temperature, portion out and get ready to store.
Storing Chicken Stock
Chicken stock can be kept in the fridge for quite a while, but I would avoid holding a stock for more than five days as bacterial growth can occur and spoil the flavor. You can stretch a stock out by bringing it back up to temperature (boiling) for a few minutes as this will kill off any harmful bacteria.
Freezing Chicken Stock
Chicken stock freezes very well and does not lose flavor or consistency. You can keep chicken stock frozen for up to 12 months in a properly sealed container. I prefer to keep my chicken stock frozen in 1 liter/1 quart batches using freezer bags (click here to see it on Amazon).
Freezer bags work very well as they take up little space, are inexpensive, and quick to defrost. They take a bit of skill to master, but if left undisturbed they do not leak once frozen.