Return to Main Page                

Making Chicken Stock


It’s time to clean out the Pet Cemetery.  If you haven’t read “Butchering a Whole Chickens" – you’re probably a little confused.  Let’s catch you up.

 I purchase chickens whole for several reason:  Because I like both types of meat – light and dark; Butchering chickens is easy, once you learn and techniques and practice; Whole chickens are less expensive than more processed/cut up chickens; and I save the necks, backbones, gizzards, hearts, etc. in the freezer for stock – AKA – The Pet Cemetery.

 I processed 40 pounds of tomatoes for the freezer – “Fresh Tomato Sauce” post dated September 11 – so I don’t have enough room in my freezer to fit a whisper.  As I’m out of chicken stock – now is as good a time as any.

 There is no set recipe for this – There are just a natural set of flavorings for stock:

 Celery – Celery is one of the natural choices for stock

 Carrots – Carrots are a great addition to the stock pot – just make sure you use less carrots to celery.  Carrots have a lot of sugar in them, and you don’t want a sweet stock

 Onions – Onions can also lend great flavor

 Leeks - These are in the same family as onions – they cook up a little milder though - 

REMEMBER - Leeks are very dirty - you need to clean them thoroughly!


Leeks Require Cleaning - Even Between the Leaves

Garlic – Is also in the Alium family with onions and leeks, but their flavor is quite different from the others

Bay Leaves – Bay leaves have a nice neutral flavor that won’t take over the stock.  If you are using dried – use a few more that you would fresh.

 Thyme – Thyme is a great flavoring for chicken and will not take over the entire stock pot with flavor, if added judiciously.

 Parsley – Parsley is another herb that will also add flavor without over powering the stock

 Peppercorns – Peppercorns add a bit of heat

 I don’t add salt when making stock – I leave that for when I’m using the stock in a recipe. 

Items I wouldn’t recommend – unless you are going for a specific flavoring/coloring for the entire stock pot:

Oregano, basil, sage, dill, tomatoes, parsnips, cabbage, peppers, beets, kale, spinach

While the vegetables – above – might be good for a vegetable stock – they may color or flavor the stock too much.

I’ve found that I get the best results if is go 1/3 vegys and herbs to 2/3 Pet Cemetery.  Then – cover this all with fresh clean water.

Vegys for Chicken Stock

I Used Leeks Today - Instead of Onions - Same Allium Family

Chicken Parts from Freezer

Frozen Pet Cemetery Over The Vegys

Water Added to Stock Pot

Water Added to the Stock Pot

Okay – So you don’t want to cultivate a Pet Cemetery.  Purchase whole chickens.  Make sure you take the bag out of the cavity – use the heart, gizzard and neck – toss the liver as it will muddy the stock.  Make sure to wash the rest. 

There is a place on the inside of the chicken on either side of the back bone that has a gland (For the lack of better descriptor) that will also muddy the stock.  Those need to be removed – just scoop them out with your finger and then wash the chicken – inside and out.   

Inside of Chicken

Clean These Places Out (Sorry Chicken - Didn't Mean to Get so Familiar)

Remember, once you’ve removed the chicken to the cooking pot – use antibacterial spray then hot water and dish wash soap over EVERY surface raw chicken may have touched!

Note – These glands should be taken out if you are roasting a whole poultry as well.  These take longer than the rest of the chicken to cook.  If you use the turn-the-chicken-to-see-if-the-juices-run-clear method of checking if the poultry is done – those glands will give you a false reading.  The juices will run pink, even if the rest of the chicken, game hen, Cornish hen, or turkey (I don’t know if ducks have them – I’d think they would) is done. You'll have over-roasted your bird....

Bring stock up to a simmer and then lower the burner/slow cooker temperature to simmer.  After about 15 minutes of simmering, you’ll see a gray foam come to the surface – this is impurities from the bones and meat – You do not want this in your stock.  Just skim this off and remove to a bowl to toss.  Continue to skim the stock until the foam stops forming. 

Skim the Stock

Skim Gray Scum From Top

Simmer to 3-4 hours.  The meat will flake from the bones, and the bones from the back will break easily when stirred. 

Cooked Stock

Chicken Stock After 3-4 Hours Simmering

Let sit for a while until it’s not totally volcanic in nature.  Move into a strainer over a collection bowl – gather the chunky bits in the strainer – allow those to drip for a while to let as much stock go through before tossing the bones, skin, vegys, and herbs into the trash.

Remove Stock From Pot

Using a 4 Cup Measuring Cup to Remove Bones, Skin and Vegys

Put Stock Through Sieve

Place Pieces into Strainer over Container to Catch Stock

Take the stock and run it through a fine mesh sieve into containers that you will store the stock in the refrigerator overnight.  Allow containers to sit on the counter for a while until they are cooled a bit before moving them to the refrigerator.

Put Stock Through Fine Mesh Sieve

Final Run Through a Fine Mesh Sieve

Let Stock Coll to Room Temperature

Containers of Stock Cooling Before Being Placed in the Refrigerator

The next day – You'll need to skim the fat layer off of the top of the stock before you place the stock into containers that you plan to freeze it in. 

Remove Fat from Chilled Stock

Fat Layer that Came to the Top of the Stock Overnight

Remember – There will be some sediment at the bottom of each container that you won’t want to freeze with the rest.  You can put this through a fine mesh sieve again or toss it. What you are looking for is clear beautiful stock. 

Run Stock Through Fine Mesh Sieve One Last Time

One Final Run Through a Fine Mesh Sieve

You might taste the stock and wonder, “What was this all for?”  Remember – there is no salt in the stock, so it won’t taste like soup – until you use it to make soup – or – gravy – or – moisture for stuffing – or – chowder– or…