Let’s talk about homemade chicken stock. In the list of scratch-made items that are worth it, chicken stock is very near the top. During the Ina In A Year project, I made homemade chicken stock twelve times (it’s literally in every one of Ina’s cookbooks!), and I became a convert to the magic of homemade chicken stock.
However, the idea of buying whole chickens and a list of ingredients simply to produce broth seems like more trouble and expense than I want to spend. In Ina’s world, it makes sense. In my world, not so much.
Today I want to show you a method for getting the perks of homemade chicken stock by repurposing chicken bones and bits that are leftover after you roast a chicken. I call it Scrappy Chicken Stock.
Scrappy Chicken Stock is more a method than a recipe. In fact, the beauty of Scrappy Chicken Stock is that it is NOT a recipe. You use whatever scraps you have on hand to yield a homemade broth that will leave the store-bought stuff in the shadows.
When you cook chicken, whether a whole bird or bits and pieces, save the scraps. Even if you don’t plan to make chicken stock right away, those bones are your ticket to liquid gold. Save them! I like to collect chicken bones, with skin and meat still clinging to them, and store them in gallon zip bags in the freezer.
Once I have two or three bags, I dump them all into a very large pot (no thawing required) along with an onion, maybe a carrot or two, perhaps some celery if I have some. If I’m feeling frisky I may add a sprig or two of parsley or thyme, and always a sprinkle of salt. The point is…if you have it, use it. If you don’t…don’t. In a pinch, you can just use the chicken bones. No one will know.
Cover the contents of your pot with enough water to completely cover everything. Bring it to a boil over high heat, and then once it gets going, reduce the heat until there is gentle movement on the surface of the liquid.
Leave the pot uncovered and walk away for three to four hours. Your house will smell amazing, and as the liquid reduces, it will leach out all the delicious chicken flavor into the broth. The longer it simmers, the more of the collagen from the bones will make it into the broth.
Only have an hour? Great! Your broth will be thin, but still better than anything from a can.
Have all day? Even better! Let it go and go and go, adding water if needed to keep the level of the liquid above the chicken. Your broth will be dark, jello-like when chilled, and full of so many good things!
When you are done boiling your broth, strain off all of the solids and store the remaining liquid in the container of your choosing. The broth will stay fresh in your fridge for about a week or for several months in the freezer. If you are freezing the broth, make sure you leave some space at the top of your container. Liquids expand when they freezer, and if you fill it up to the top, your container will explode.
When it comes to convenience, I am a huge supporter of using store-bought chicken broth. But, when time and opportunity present itself, I love making Scrappy Chicken Stock and using it in soups, stews, and sauces. It makes an enormous difference in taste and texture.