First and foremost…Merry Christmas! I hope that you enjoyed the holiday and spent time with loved ones!
The thrifty part of me is constantly saving the bones and remnants of meat after cooking chicken and turkey. I save these spare parts, so to speak, with grand visions in my head of creating beautiful batches of homemade stock to use in soups throughout the winter. But somehow the bones get put in the freezer and weeks go by…is this sounding familiar to you?
The most challenging part of making homemade stock is finding a couple spare hours to babysit the pot of simmering liquid. Consider how much of your hard earned money you shell out for store bought versions of broth or stock; off the top of my head each quart runs around $2-3 depending on whether it is organic, free-range chicken, low-sodium, etc. Multiply that times every grocery trip and it begins to add up! Once I realized how easy and undeniably delicious the homemade version can be I feel almost silly purchasing it.
The holidays are the perfect time to make stock because I imagine you have leftover turkey or chicken bones and some odds and ends of vegetables lying around. I am taking advantage of this cold, snowy day in Michigan to look out my window at the peacefully falling snow and let the smell of simmering stock permeate my house. Perhaps you would like to stay indoors and create your own batch too!
(Note: This is a loose list, the goal is to use up whatever vegetables/herbs are left in your house. The basics are aromatics such as onion, garlic, carrots, bay leaves, and fresh herbs. )
- 1 chicken carcass (I must mention I am not a big fan of the word carcass)
- 1 onion, quartered (you can leave the skin on)
- 3 carrots, unpeeled and cut into large chunks
- 3 parsnips, unpeeled and cut into large chunks
- 1 bunch celery, cut in half
- 1 head garlic, cut in half horizontally (leave on the skin)
- 3 bay leaves
- 4-6 peppercorns
- handful fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary, parsley, sage, etc.
- Salt to taste
Place chicken bits in the bottom of a large stockpot. Pile on the veggies, bay leaves, herbs, peppercorns, garlic, and all other ingredients you plan to add. Cover with water; my stockpot holds 12-14 cups comfortably. Put lid on a bring to a boil; once at a rolling boil turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 2-3 hours.
The color of the liquid will begin to deepen and your kitchen will smell amazing. Expect some of the liquid to evaporate; this helps to concentrate the flavor of the stock. Once ready, use a small sieve to strain the solids.
Discard the leftover chicken and vegetables; they have served their purpose to infuse the liquid with nutrients and flavor, but they are no longer going to taste good. Divide liquid into containers; I like to cool the liquid in the refrigerator then place in freezer until needed. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator; now your homemade stock is ready to use! Give yourself a pat on the back for not only re-purposing ingredients you would otherwise throw out, but for creating such a healthy and delicious staple in your own kitchen!