Chicken stock. The backbone of a delicious and nutritious kitchen. Chicken stock is the reason that chicken soup is given to those who are sick. Chicken stock is not only a great healing food, it is incredible nutritious, has versatile uses in the kitchen, and making your own is a fantastically frugal and easy option. Skip the boxes and cans, this is the real deal.
I want to explain a few parts of the recipe you will find below…
About the chicken part: While you can definitely use just the carcass (as opposed to boiling a whole chicken first and then stripping the meat off for meals), I get a better stock when I use 2 or even 3 carcasses. Sometimes, I use just one. It still makes a great light chicken stock, which is a perfect base for soup or risotto, so if you only have one, go for it! Add whatever parts you have: neck, gizzards (save livers for pate or another use because they are so good!), and feet. I’ll talk about the feet in a minute.
If you have an old chicken (stew hen), this is a great use for an old bird. As pictured, I used a stew hen here. From time to time, as nature calls for, our older laying hens move on from the flock and serve yet another amazing purpose. What I will often do is boil the bird until tender, then remove and pick all the meat off and make something with the meat like pot pie or enchiladas. I reserve the leftover liquid for “cooking liquid” (which I use to cook grains or beans and in a pinch can sub for regular stock) and then put the carcass back in the pot with fresh filtered water for our amazing stock. Double score!
Let’s talk feet. Chicken feet. Now I know some cultures eat the feet and many have tried it before. And I might one day, but that day is not today. Instead I use the feet in the stock. The feet are loaded with gelatin. Gelatin has been shown to help digestion and contains healing properties for our stomachs. Many resources say to blanch the feet, but I just throw mine in au natural. If you want to learn more, check out this website.
The next weird thing on my ingredient list, “random vegetables peelings.” Often I don’t even put onion, carrots or celery in and just use random vegetable peelings. I keep a bag in the freezer marked for this and fill it with onion ends and peels, carrot ends and peelings, celery ends and insides, potato peelings, herb stalks, etc. The only thing you want to stay away from is cruciferous vegetables or vegetables from the brassicas family (broccoli, cabbage, etc.).
Okay last explanation. Why 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, and why do you let it sit for an hour before bringing to a boil? Great questions. Letting the bones sit in slightly acidic water before boiling helps bring vitamins and trace minerals contained in the bones out into the stock. If I have the time and the forethought, I always do this, if not, I just turn the burner right on!
- A chicken carcass or stew hen including neck, gizzards, and feet, preferably from a pastured chicken
- 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar (bragg’s)
- 1 onion
- Celery (I use the middle pieces and outer pieces that you don’t use otherwise)
- Carrots (about 3)
- Random vegetable peelings (as explained above)
- Filtered water, fill up pot so that the bones and vegetables are firmly covered in water
- 1 tspn. sea salt
- Optional: Black peppercorns (1TB), Bay leaves (2), Herbs (parsley stalks, thyme, rosemary all work well)
- Fill a large pot with everything listed. Let it sit for about 1 hour.
- Turn heat up to high and let it come to a boil. Once it does, turn it down as low as possible. You want a big bubble to surface every few seconds. Low and slow, baby.
- Simmer for 12-24 hours.
- When 24 hours is up, strain through a fine mesh sieve and place into glass jars/containers and freeze or refrigerate.