How to make and store chicken stock

chicken-broth-homemade.jpg

The last time we went to the grocery store I bought four rotisserie chickens from the deli. At the checkout, a cashier about ten years my senior looked at us incredulously and exclaimed how we "must really like chicken." We chuckled and replied that they were on sale and we were almost out of chicken stock so we bought extras. 

When she asked how to make chicken stock, I simply replied that you add water to the bones and simmer for a few hours. She looked at us like we had lobsters crawling out of our ears (Ralphie!) and replied that was too much work, she'd rather just buy it out of a can. She was super nice, and I nodded. 

But I really didn't understand her point of view. You're going to eat the chicken anyway. Rather than throwing the bones in the garbage, you just throw them in a pot. The concept is the same. The only added step is water and turning the stove knob. Beyond that you just cool it and shove it in the freezer until you need it. Outside of the cooking time, this process takes ten minutes tops. Easy, practically free and making the most use of the animal who died to sustain us. 

Ok, that took a gruesome turn there. What I really intended to say was making chicken stock is easy. Here's how:

Homemade Chicken Stock

1 rotisserie whole chicken, meat removed and reserved for another use

1 gallon water, filtered if you can

Add-ins to taste (e.g. bay leaf, handful of carrot slices, a quartered onion, couple of garlic cloves, etc.)

Throw the bones in a pot. Fill pot with water. Throw in extras (I actually don't throw in any extras because I give it to our dog and she just likes the basics - so for us it is just chicken + water). Bring to a simmer and turn heat down so you only see a bubble occasionally. Let this cook uncovered for two hours minimum, three hours is ideal. Whenever it is a nice tannish brown color. Let cool to room temperature. Strain and discard bones.

At this point, I pour it into a drink pitcher and place in the fridge overnight. By morning, there is a layer of fat on the top that is very easy to skim off. Then the pitcher makes it very easy to pour into whatever container you use to store it (plastic, glass, ziptop bags, etc.). Freeze. 

BTW if, when cool, the chicken broth looks thick like chicken jello...that is normal! It's fine. I swear. (The gelatin in jello is made from bones.)

I always buy enough to double this recipe, so I can freeze the meat for quick evening meals and keep the freezer full of stock.