When I was in cooking school, we religiously started each day by making a gigantic 60 quart pot full of chicken stock.
They were an integral part of our cooking process. First and foremost, stocks are made with bones and aromatics; broths are made with meat, usually lighter in flavor and heavy in salt. Broths can be served as a dish in it of itself where as stocks are a key ingredient to many dishes. In fact, we spent an entire two weeks making different types of stocks including white and brown chicken, Parmesan, and veal stocks.
You may be asking whether or not homemade stock is worth it. Listen, if you have the time and resources, I can honestly say that it is worth it. Adding homemade stocks to dishes gives deep flavor that water could not otherwise provide. More still, you can customize your stocks to fit the flavor profile of your dishes. Making pho? Add some star anise and cinnamon. Chicken noodle soup? Use classic aromatics like onions, carrots, celery, and black peppercorns. Not only that, you can control the amount of salt. Pre-packaged stocks usually have a ton of sodium which can throw off the balance of a dish. In general, stocks shouldn’t be salted so you can more easily adjust the flavor to your liking.
You should think of this recipe as a guideline. You don’t need to weigh out and measure things precisely, however; you will need to make sure that the ratios are similar. Also, the aromatics do not need to be fresh and unblemished despite the belief of some fine dining chefs. I personally love using vegetable scraps to flavor my stocks so I can reduce my waste in the kitchen. Reserve vegetable scraps and freeze them until you’re ready to use. Here are some stock variations you can try to customize the flavor profile to your favorite dishes:
- Create a chicken stock from bones and then cook the chicken you plan to use for the pho in the chicken stock. This is called a double stock and is super flavorful
- Use a pho seasoning packet which contains cinnamon, black peppercorns, cardamon, and star anise
- Skip the celery and carrots
- Use dried shiitake mushrooms as a key aromatic. Then, remove them from the finished stock and add to a pickling mixture made with soy sauce to give them a second life as a delicious condiment
- Add fish sauce or soy sauce to add more umami flavor (not too much as you don’t want your stock to be salty)
- Instead of using a traditional mirepoix, use the Holy Trinity (onions, peppers, and celery)
- Combine chicken bones with shrimp shells as the base of the stock
- Load up on garlic and dried chilies to give the stock a kick
Makes Approximately Two Gallons
- 5 lbs chicken bones, preferably carcasses
- 2 pounds onions, peeled and cut in 1-inch pieces
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut in 1-inch pieces
- 1 pound celery, cut in 1-inch pieces
- Bouquet garni: 2 sprigs each parsley and thyme plus 2 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- Canola or vegetable oil
- Large stock pot
1. Preheat oven to 350° F convection/400° F conventional. Place the bones onto a large roasting pan. Place the vegetables onto another large roasting pan. Toss the bones and vegetables with a few tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil. Bake until browned. Use metal spatula to toss everything occasionally. This will take 30 to 45 minutes. In the last 15 minutes of cooking, toss the vegetables with the tomato paste and finish cooking in the oven.
2. Once cooked, transfer the bones and vegetables to the stock pot. Add enough cold water to barely cover the bones. Deglaze the roasting pan with a little water or sherry and scrap the bits off the pan. This fond is going to add a ton of flavor to your stock. Toss in the bouquet garni.
3. Bring to a simmer and skim off all the grey scum that rises to the top. Simmer for 3–4 hours, skimming any scum that rises. It is not necessary to skim off all the fat. You can remove the fat once chilled.
4. Strain and cool quickly, then refrigerate or freeze. If frozen, it should last in your fridge for six months. If kept in your fridge, it will last one week.