Today I am going to share with you a great way to use 1 bird (chicken) in 2 ways (that’s almost the same as the “kill 2 birds with 1 stone” saying right?). I decided recently that I wanted to make chicken noodle soup, and figured I might as well make some stock while I’m going to the trouble. Actually, I ended up making 2 additional meals out of the chicken I cooked for the soup and stock, and I’ll be sharing those recipes later on the blog as well (I made chicken salad, Buffalo style, and also a pasta with chicken, asparagus and a goat cheese cream sauce later in the week).
First I want to discuss the making of stock. As anyone who cooks knows, chicken stock is one of the most commonly called-for ingredients. Even when it’s not called for, it’s beneficial to use it whenever a recipe calls for water (rice cooked in chicken stock instead of water, for example, is worlds beyond regular rice in flavor).
Making your own chicken stock is pretty much the easiest thing ever (and that was in the words of my husband). Additionally, it usually costs next-to-nothing to make it, because the ingredients can be the scraps you have around from other recipes (stray celery/carrots/onions/herbs and leftover chicken bones). Compared to store-bought stock, homemade stock is also abundantly more flavorful, plus you can control what’s in it (no MSG, not too much salt, no preservatives, etc.). You can either make it and use it right away, or portion it into small containers and freeze it. Then, you will always have it on hand when you need it (thaw it on the defrost setting in your microwave for a few minutes, then pop out the ice-block-of-stock into a saucepan and melt it back into liquid over low heat – it takes no time at all.)
Ok, so enough about all the reasons you should try to make your own stock. Oh wait, one more reason, you will feel like a real chef and can impress all your friends, when secretly all you did was throw a bunch of bones and vegetables in a pot and left it to boil for several hours. :-D
Since I was planning to make chicken noodle soup, I thought I would save myself some time and effort later in the week, and cook a whole bunch of chicken at once. The basis of this post is that you can make a big pot of chicken stock, using one or more chickens, and then transform the broth into soup, and the chicken into other meals. Classically, you don’t need actual chicken meat to make stock, but I used it in this case so that I could take that chicken meat and use it for recipes later in the week (plus that helped make the stock extra flavorful). Half the stock I made went into my freezer to use other times, and half of it got turned into the broth for soup.
So without further ado….
How to Make Chicken Stock
There are no hard rules or recipes to follow for making chicken stock. With all of the following ingredients, you don’t even need to peel them (even the onions! Just leave the skin on); just cut each ingredient in halves or quarters and then throw them in the pot. There are several ingredients you definitely want to include if you can, such as:
- 1-2 Onions (white/yellow)
- 2-4 Carrots
- 2-4 Celery stalks,
- Whole peppercorns (~1 tablespoon) – whole because then you can strain them out
- Fresh herbs – throw them in as whole sprigs/bunches – for example, parsley, thyme, tarragon, or whatever you have on hand
…If you have more celery and carrots and herbs on hand, go ahead and throw them in – it definitely won’t hurt! Other than that, some nice additions for some more flavor are:
- Leeks (very well cleaned)
- Garlic (just smash the cloves, no need to peel)
- Salt (to taste)
Plus, obviously, one of the following:
- Whole, raw chicken (split in two so it cooks quicker)
- Raw, bone-in chicken parts (thighs, breasts, wings, etc)
- Leftover chicken bones
To make the stock, throw all the roughly chopped vegetables in the pot (there will be more than shown below):
Add your chicken bones or chicken meat.
Then fill the pot up with water. Use at least 10 cups, and make sure all of the ingredients are covered with water.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 3 hours, or as long as possible, loosely covered so you don’t lose too much water to evaporation. If using whole chicken or chicken pieces, remove them after 45-60 minutes (for a whole chicken, use the upper end of that range), and separate the meat from the fat and bones. Discard the fat, set the meat aside, and return the bones to the pot for the remaining simmering time.
Using tongs or a skimmer (one of my favorite kitchen tools), remove the chicken bones and vegetables.
Then, strain the hot stock throw a fine mesh strainer. Please be careful at this step, as the stock is beyond HOT and the steam alone can burn you!
Let the stock sit to allow the fat to separate, then skim it off using a spoon. As you can see in this picture, the fat floats on the surface and the difference in color will help show what needs to be removed.
Portion the stock into small containers and allow it to cool at room temperature temporarily before refrigerating or freezing (allowing the stock to cool to 140°F before refrigerating is safe because 140 is still hotter than “the food danger zone“. Cooling on the counter first also helps you avoid raising the temperature inside your refrigerator or freezer unsafely, which can happen if you put a large volume of very hot soup or stock right in the fridge).
Chicken Noodle Soup is a no-brainer:
Follow the directions above to make your stock, using whole chicken or bone-in chicken pieces. Cook the chicken in the stock until cooked through, as indicated above, 45-60 minutes. Remove the chicken and separate the fat from the meat and bones. Return the bones to the pot, discard the fat, and shred the meat. Refrigerate the shredded chicken until ready to use.
Continue to simmer your stock for 2-4 hours, or as time allows.
- 2 carrots
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 small yellow onion
When the stock is done simmering, strain as directed above, removing the vegetables and bones. Be very careful, it is very hot!
Return the strained stock to the pot on the stove, and return to a simmer. Add the diced vegetables and:
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves if that’s all you have)
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon tumeric (for color)
Simmer for ~10 minutes, until vegetables are tender. While the stock is simmering rapidly, add 16 ounces of pasta noodles and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes more.
Then, add the cooked chicken to heat through and serve!
When I made this, I made 2 huge pots full of stock/soup, using 2 chickens. That meant that I had plenty of leftover cooked chicken for recipes later in the week, like Buffalo-style chicken salad for sandwiches and pasta with goat cheese, asparagus and chicken (which I will be sharing on the blog next week!) The amount of effort and time and money it takes to make a second pot or bigger batch or stock/soup is minimal, so it really is worth it. Having leftover cooked, shredded chicken around is never a bad thing, since the uses of it are limitless (think tacos, pasta, enchiladas, pizza, quesedillas, etc).