Every good home cook needs a good homemade stock or broth at their disposal. I always have chicken stock on hand at any given time. And did you know that ONE whole chicken pays for itself if you take into account the stock you can create and savings you’d make in buying store-bought!? It’s true! Learn more.
Having a homemade stock or broth at my disposal is an absolute essential in my kitchen. I call upon stocks constantly for added flavour in dishes from all around the world. A good stock will boost the flavour of many dishes.
Chicken stock is my go-to stock for most recipes calling for stock but I also keep in the freezer beef stock, vegetable stock and sometimes lamb stock. Essentially, whenever I can get my hands on animal bones, I'll create a broth.
Homemade chicken stock - better than store bought.
It's no surprise that homemade stock is better than store-bought. It's more flavourful and you can make it without ANY salt, some commercial stocks are packed with sodium. You know EXACTLY what's in yours and can adjust your recipe to suit your taste. The other surprising things is that homemade stocks or broths are MUCH MUCH cheaper than commercial varieties. One chicken carcass will make around three litres, which would cost more than the price of that same chicken to buy at the supermarket!
What bones to use for stock?
I generally use a whole chicken for curries and stews which means I get to butcher the bird and have a leftover carcass. Chicken carcasses are available at many supermarkets now too - it pays to ask. I chop the carcass using my trusty poultry shears as it helps create a fuller flavour. I also collect bones as I go from bone-in chicken thighs or bits here and there from chicken wings, wing tips, feet, necks and excess skin. I have a 'collection bag' in the freezer that when it reaches a couple of pounds is made into stock. Nothing goes to waste!
Buying a whole chicken is a great way to ensure you'll get a stock made. I joint my chicken into pieces and use in a separate recipe for something like a Malaysian Chicken Curry (Kari Ayam) or maybe a Chicken Pilaf. I am generally left with the carcass and some wing tips. This will give me 3 whole litres/quarts of delicious stock!
Firstly, and this is not an essential step, I pre-boil the bones for about 5-10 minutes - this helps eliminate any scummy residue that gathers during the initial cooking stages. A quick drain and then we start the stock-making process. You don't have to follow this stage - you can also skim off the scum from the top during normal cooking - the taste isn't affected.
Another stage you could do, which I sometimes do is to roast the bones in a hot oven for 15 minutes - this will give a darker, richer broth, but again - it's not essential. This recipe doesn't roast the bones and the broth is super-flavourful.
I'll then combine the chicken pieces with some aromatics like carrot, onion, leek and celery. A few peppercorns and a dash of salt also go in along with a little over 3qt/about 3 litres of water. I bring it to a boil then reduce the heat to very low and barely simmer for 3-4 hours. A very slow cook ensures the broth is clear if it boils too rapidly it'll be cloudy, still tasty but cloudy - you decide which is best for you.
After cooking, it's a simple drain to discard the solids. I also like to use a Gravy Separator to remove any fat from the top. If you aren't familiar with a gravy separator, watch the magic here. There are other techniques for removing the fat outlined below in the recipe.
A universal stock - so versatile for World recipes.
This stock recipe is my base stock or my universal stock. It's not strongly flavoured with any one ingredient that may limit its use in a range of cuisines. I cook all kinds of dishes that require certain flavours in the stock, but what I do is introduce those flavours into the pre-cooked stock. For Asian stocks for soups and stews the recipe may call for ginger, lemongrass or star-anise etc, for western recipes; cinnamon, cumin, bay leaves. It's easy to boil these in a stock for 20-30 minutes to completely transform the aroma and flavour. A universal stock will ensure you have the base for any cuisine!
My favourite recipes using homemade chicken stock.
So having stock at hand is so great when you cook a lot and in winter, it's even good to drink on its own! Here are some of my favourite recipes I make all the time.
How to make my Recipe for Chicken Stock / Broth