Chicken stock is one of the most utilized ingredients in the kitchen. Not only is it the base of chicken soup, it is a foundation in so many recipes including those for sauces, stews, side dishes, and so much more. Chicken stock can be your flavor builder, like in a simple gravy, or the focus of the recipe, like in chicken soup. Nowadays many people rely on the canned chicken stock or bouillon cubes, but these products are often laden with sodium and MSG, and they lack the flavor of homemade. Instead make your own chicken stock at home -- it's not only healthier, it's more flavorful!
Chicken Stock Basics
Making chicken stock is not as hard as you may think. It's easy, because all you have to do is simmer some chicken and vegetables until they've released all their flavor. If you have some parts leftover from a whole chicken, be it the wing tips or backbone, and you have a few carrots, celery and an onion in your refrigerator's vegetable drawer, you have the ingredients to make stock. Get the Homemade Chicken Stock recipe.
Watch the video below to learn how to make chicken stock.
Classic Chicken Stock vs. Brown Chicken Stock
Basic stock is what you'll use most in your cooking. It's basically that pale yellow or golden broth that works as soup or goes into other recipes, made with bones of a chicken that haven't been roasted or browned. Brown stock is made with chicken bones that have been roasted -- you can even use the remnants of a roasted chicken dinner to make it. As a result, brown stock has a deeper flavor and darker caramel color than classic white chicken stock. (It's best used for making sauces.) See how brown chicken stock is made here.
Chicken Broth vs. Chicken Stock
Stock is made mostly with chicken bones that have some meat attached, but broth is made with mostly the meat.
Stock has a much more complex flavor and is clear and yellow or golden in color, whereas broth is weaker in flavor and lacks color -- sometimes it's even cloudy.
Chicken Stock Tips
Don't salt your stock. If you plan on making a big batch of it to use later, don't salt it. You'll want it to have a neutral taste, so you can season the recipe you're adding it to. Otherwise you run the risk of oversalting, which is a tendency that's greatest when you use store-bought stock that's high in sodium. When you've got leftover stock, or if you're making a big batch, freeze extra portions. Pour 1 cup of cooled broth into a resealable plastic bag and freeze on a tray so it freezes flat. This way you can organize the stack of bags easily in the freezer. And you always have a cupful of broth at the ready.
Do you prefer to buy or make chicken stock? Leave a comment below.