Chicken Stock, Revisited

I wrote about chicken stock in my very first blog post here. It’s been more than a year and I still make it regularly the same exact way. Here’s how to make chicken stock in your own kitchen with no effort whatsoever!

Of course, you can just buy chicken stock already made from the store. Except then you have to pay money, you don’t get a lot, and you have to use it up quickly once opened. This homemade chicken stock is more nutritious, lasts longer, and is totally free!

First you need chicken, obviously. If you regularly buy whole chickens or bone-in pieces, you’re already all set. One of my favorite ways to make chicken stock is to cook a whole chicken in my slow cooker, eat it for dinner, and then throw all of the bones back into the slow cooker. This leaves the drippings from the chicken in the stock, as well as lending a roasted flavor.

You don’t need to do that though. All you have to do is de-bone a handful of chicken thighs or drumsticks. If you roasted a whole chicken in the oven, you can use the chicken carcass. You can use any already cooked chicken, roast the bones, or just put the bones in raw. Cooked chicken seems to make a darker flavored stock, and it will have all of the flavors of anything you seasoned it with.

When I de-bone and cook some chicken thighs and don’t need stock at the moment, I just throw them in a freezer bag and into the freezer for later. You can build up a stockpile this way and you’ll never be out of stock again. Just put the chicken in raw and frozen and it will thaw right out.

Put the bones in your slow cooker and fill it with water. Some people add vinegar to help break down the bones a bit better, but I didn’t notice a difference. You can season the water if you like, or you can leave it plain so you can season your dishes you use it in later. I often throw some crushed bay leaves in mine.

Then, you just turn it on low and forget it! I put mine on before I go to bed, and wake up to a house smelling of delectable chicken in the morning. Leave it on for 8–12 hours before turning it off and letting it cool slightly.

My average slow cooker makes three mason jars’ worth of chicken stock. Simply place a strainer over the jar and pour in the stock. You will still get some sediment that settles to the bottom, but this isn’t a problem. If you don’t like it, you can use something finer like cheesecloth to strain it all out.

Once it cools and is placed in the fridge, all of the fat will rise to the top and form a solid layer. I’ve read that this somewhat seals the stock and makes it last a lot longer. The jar on the left was poured first, from the top of the slow cooker, and the one on the right was near the bottom, so it has less fat. If you use a cup to scoop and pour into your jars, you’ll have more even layers of fat.

When you want to use it, simply scoop the fat out with a spoon. I usually pour my stock through a strainer into my measuring cup, just to make sure I catch any bits I don’t want in my dish, like bits of fat. Though I’ve never done it, you can use the fat for cooking in place of oil, but beware, there are claims that any toxins/pesticides in our meat are stored in the fat. Always do your research.

If your stock becomes somewhat solid after being cooled as well, good news! This means you’ve extracted a lot of collagen from the bones and your stock is extra nutritious. It will return to liquid after being heated, just add a tiny bit of water.

Lastly, what is the difference between chicken stock and chicken broth? This is a recipe for stock, as it uses primarily bones. If you boil meat to make it, that makes it broth. Stock is richer because of the bones releasing their gelatin.

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