***UPDATE***: Here's a GREAT idea. You can also freeze the stock in an ice cube tray, then place the frozen cubes in a Ziplock bag. When you need just a little bit, you can just plunk them into your soup/sauce/gravy! Thanks for the tip, Stacy! (Conversion: 8 cubes of stock equals about one cup; 4 cubes equals 1/2 cup.)
For many home cooks, making chicken stock seems a waste of precious time.
Why not just use bullion cubes?
Let me state: there is absolutely no reason why you cannot use them.
Go right ahead! (Like you need my permission...)
But if you have a little bit of time and some vegetables and chicken bones hanging around, you won't believe how this basic concoction will transform your soups from good to great.
Essentially, you will boil/simmer some coarsely chopped vegetables (plus chicken bones) for several hours until the contents of the pot strongly influences the flavor of the water.
Then you will strain out the veggies/bones.
You'll be left with a golden nectar that can be frozen and used in the future as a base for many, many soups, sauces, and gravies.
(Note: nix the chicken bones and you'll have a very flavorful vegetable broth.)
You'll need a very large stockpot.
Basic Chicken Stock Ingredients: Celery, Carrots, Leeks, Onions, Garlic, Sweet Potato, Potato, Chicken Bones (not shown), Bay Leaves, Peppercorns, and Salt.
Start by coarsely chopping the veggies.
The leek: cut it into thirds.
Leave the carrots unpeeled and chop into thirds.
Add them to the pot with the leeks.
Cut the celery in...you guessed it!...thirds.
(Leaves and heart included.)
And toss them in.
Slice two onions into large chunks,
and add them to the growing population of the stock pot.
Take 5 cloves of garlic and cut each in half.
(Don't bother peeling them.)
Quarter an unpeeled sweet potato and regular potato.
Good grief. It's getting crowded in there.
Toss in the bay leaves and the peppercorns.
If you have been merrily rowing your boat
down the happy vegetable stream,
be advised: a photo of chicken bones is swiftly approaching.
A few nights ago, I baked some chicken legs and saved the bones.
You can use more (or less). This is about 8 thigh bones.
Fill the pot with enough water to submerge the contents.
Bring it to a boil, then turn down the heat and let it simmer for several hours.
Basic Chicken Stock
makes 8-10 cups of stock
6-8 unpeeled carrots, cut into thirds2 yellow onions, cut into chunks
1 leek (both white and green parts), cut into thirds
1 bunch celery (including heart), cut into thirds
5 unpeeled cloves garlic halved
4 medium red potatoes with skins on, quartered (substitute a regular baking potato if necessary)
1 large sweet potato with skins on, quartered
1 pound chicken bones (about 8 thigh bones) (substitute 5-6 chicken thighs with meat on)
6-8 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon sea salt
Rinse all vegetables well. In a 12-quart (or larger) stockpot, combine all ingredients, except the salt. Fill pot to about 2 inches below the rim with water, cover, and bring to a boil.
Remove the lid, decrease the heat to low, and simmer for a minimum of 2 hours. As the stock simmers, some of the water will evaporate, add more if the vegetables begin to peek out. Simmer until the full richness of the vegetables can be tasted. Add the salt and stir.
Strain the stock using a large-coarse-mesh strainer (remember to use a heat-resistant container underneath). Bring to room temperature before refrigerating or freezing.
After the stock has cooled, I like to put it in zipper-sealed plastic bags, place the bags on a baking sheet (so they remain flat), and freeze them for future use.
Recipe adapted from: Magic Mineral Broth in One Bite at a Time