Making Chicken Stock

A step-by-step tutorial for making a kitchen staple.

Chicken stock is a base for soups and sauces, and a builder of flavor and richness in rice dishes, stews, and pastas.

1. To make basic chicken stock, we used the bones of two chickens, water, 2 medium onions, 2 medium carrots, 2 stalks celery, 15 whole black peppercorns, and a bay leaf. This yields about 2 quarts of stock.

2. Remove as much fat from the chicken bones as possible. Don’t worry about getting it all; you’ll skim off the remaining fat before the stock is finished.

3. Place the bones in a large stockpot and add water to cover. Bring the water to a near-boil, and immediately reduce the heat to low. Cooking at a low simmer ensures a clear golden stock.

4. While the water is heating, chop the vegetables. Since they’ll be discarded after flavoring the stock, they don’t need to be bite-sized: quarter the onions or cut them in large chunks.

5. Peel and trim the ends off the carrots. Cut them in thirds or coarsely chop.

6. You can add the entire celery stalk, leaves and all–just be sure to clean the leaves thoroughly. Cut the celery into chunks.

7. Combine the chopped veggies, peppercorns, and bay leaf in a bowl.

8. Check the simmering stock: a layer of fat will have risen to the surface.

9. Use a ladle or skimmer to strain off the fat.

10. After the stock has simmered for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, add the vegetables to the pot. Bring the stock back to a simmer and cook for an additional 45 minutes, skimming occasionally if fat rises to the surface.

11. Strain the stock through a fine colander.

12. The finished stock should be a clear, light tan color and have little or no fat floating on the surface. The stock is now ready to use. If you don’t need the full amount for soup, pour it into ice cube trays and freeze them. Then you’ll have small amounts ready to use when making a sauce, gravy, mashed potatoes, casseroles, or rice dishes.