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Published on June 12, 2013, by in chicken recipe, Recipes.

Ok, so you have successfully made Grandma Shirley’s Secret Chicken Recipe, now what do you do with the bones? You could just throw them in the compost pile, they will end up there eventually anyways, but why not get some more use out of them first? Why not make chicken stock?

If you have made the investment in a pasture-raised chicken why not get all you can out of it? The bones of a my chickens are stronger and more full of nutrients than your average chicken bones. Don’t believe me? Do a very scientific test, try to break them. They are so much harder to break than a store-bought bird.

Making chicken stock is easy

I screw things up all the time. I will be the first one to say it. The only difference is that I usually do it with flare and I look for the best in the situation. Most good inventions were probably discovered by accident. I am sure if you traced the origins of stock back through time, people were just boiling the bones (and whatever else) to get any last bit of nutrition out of them.

It is hard to screw up making stock. You put a bunch of scraps in a pot, cover it with water, and let it simmer for a while on the stove top. There are certainly a few things you want to be careful of, and I will cover all of those in the directions below.

Most of the “you must not do this” advice is for perfectionists. If your stock comes to a boil you will be fine as long as you turn it down, if you don’t have a good strainer you’re still fine. There is a lot of info on the web about making the “perfect chicken stock” which you can Google. I just want to get your foot in the door with this post and give you the basics. I know a lot of my CSA members are families, working moms, or simply just people on the go. Stock takes a little longer than roasting a chicken, but it is largely a set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing.

After the pictures, stick around because I will highlight some of the things I use stock for that you might not have thought of. Stock is definitely worth taking the time to learn how to make.

Making chicken stock couldn’t be easier!

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Roast your chicken, enjoy your dinner, and save all the scraps. If you’re not serving it to company you can keep all the scraps from what you ate off of too. You’re about to put it in hot water, you’ll be fine. Put everything into a large pot. You can add herbs, onion, garlic, vegetables, spices, or whatever you think might be a good addition. Cover all your scraps with water and put it on the stove on high heat. Right before it is about to boil go ahead and turn that heat way down to a slow slow simmer. Not a rolling boil. If you boil it do not fret. All boiling does is emulsify some of the fat into the broth and make it a little cloudy. I would still eat it, and in fact have. It’s still delicious. Quick tip: I have started adding a tablespoon or two of Apple-Cider vinegar to my pot, it helps leach the minerals out of the bones. You never taste the vinegar when it’s done.

take chicken stock bones out of broth

Let it simmer for three hours. That’s right three hours. You can go a little more, or a little less, but you want the minerals and goodness to have time to be leached out of the bones. During this time the water should NOT be boiling. Like I said it’s OK if it starts to boil, but turn that chicken down immediately. You’re keeping the water just before boiling. Every once and a while, while your stock is there cooking away take a spoon and skim the layer of fat at the top. This will give you a more clear and pretty looking stock. Not to mention is cuts the fat. I have both done this and not done this. I recommend getting the majority of it, but don’t drive yourself insane. You can always wait until it cools in the fridge and skim it off then. By that point it’s a hard jelly and easy to get rid of.

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I have this nifty spoon that I use to take the bones and big pieces out before I strain it. Any slotted spoon will work fine. Getting all the chunks out before it heads to the strainer will help you keep the strainer from clogging and it will give you a cleaner stock.

Note: You can add salt at any time during this process. Don’t over-do it. You can always add more salt, you cannot always take it out. I just leave it out and add it as needed when I know what I am going to use the stock for.

straining chicken stock with a paper towel

I would love to show you a picture of my super fancy strainer. I have a cheap metal strainer that I bought at a hardware store 8 years ago and a paper towel, haha. They work great. I use the paper towel to get all the little tiny bits that would easily fit down the larger strainer holes. You can use cheese cloth if you have it, that works too. Word to the wise, don’t pour all the stock out at once. It is slow going straining through the paper towel, especially once it starts collecting things. If you go for broke and pour it all on there at once you will overflow and the sides of your paper towel will fold over and it’s horribly annoying. Note: Hearts on the paper towel because I love chicken stock.

straining chicken stock

I strain my stock into a larger bowel. I didn’t have an “official” way to do this, but I am a farmer, I got creative. I balanced the strainer on the edge of the bowl and on a spoon. It is a little precarious, but it is what I do every time. I don’t know what you have available to you in your kitchen, but be creative. Hopefully you have a large pot that the strainer sits right into the top, that would be perfect. I also strain over the sink. I am notorious for making messes, and less notorious for cleaning them up.

container of chicken stock

Voila! There it is. My delicious chicken stock.  Ideally you could/should separate it into plastic quart containers. Like the kind you get Stonyfield Organic Yogurt in, or Chinese soup. That way you can throw it right in the freezer, or put it in the fridge for immediate use. You can also pour some into an ice cube tray, then put the cubes in a bag. Those are good when you are sauteing something and you want to throw just a little stock in to add flavor.

The many uses of chicken stock:

  • Really simple chicken soup (add chicken, carrots, noodles, celery, and garlic, salt & pepper to taste)
  • A base for any soup
  • Use instead of water when cooking rice
  • Risotto
  • Throw some in when making mashed potatoes
  • Just boil noodles and eat while watching re-runs of Friends when you are home sick
  • Add a splash when sauteing vegetables for added depth of flavor
  • Freeze in ice cubes and give to your dog on a hot day, just do it outside as it might make your floor smell delicious
  • Most things you use water for in recipes you can substitute stock, just use your imagination.

Benefits of chicken stock

  • Boosts immunity
  • Boosts your minerals
  • Improves Bone Density
  • Aids digestion
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy and versatile ingredient

Difference between broth and stock

Essentially nothing. Stock is made with scraps and bones, broth is made with chunks of meat. You can add some meat to stock to make it heartier. Also some will say that broth has salt, stock does not. The solution there seems obvious, add salt to your stock.

Broth is considered a finished product that you can eat by itself. If you make your stock right it’s basically the same thing. Just add a little salt and perhaps a few things (meat, veggies, herbs, seasoning) while you are simmering.