I’m going to assume most people don’t compost their food scraps. But do you callously throw away brocoli stalks; kale, chard, collard green stems; celery hearts; carrot tops; leek greens? So long as it isn’t rainbow chard (the red stems will die everything red), you can use these traditionally tossed items to make your own homemade chicken stock. When we have leftovers like these, we simply place them in a large ziplock bag in the freezer until we are ready to make our own stock.
When we make chicken stock, we use the left over carcass from a whole roasted chicken. We roast our own chicken at home, but if you buy roasted chicken from the store, just make sure the chicken is plain roasted and doesn’t have any weird flavors like BBQ. The chicken bones will carry the flavor from how it was cooked, so a chicken cooked on the grill or seasoned with things other than fresh herbs are going to make your chicken stock taste very weird. You can also freeze your chicken carcass until you are ready to make stock. Also, you can use any type of poultry or combination of poultry to make stock. We’ve made stock using leftovers from a turkey, duck, Cornish game hens, etc. If you’re super lucky and can get some feet, add 1 or 2 chicken feet for added deliciousness.
The key to making great chicken stock is letting all your ingredients steep like tea in hot water. You don’t want to actually cook your stock with simmering or boiling water. Although we haven’t tried it this way, you could change this recipe and make it in a large crockpot or in your oven at 250 degrees F. The main thing is that you don’t want the stock to simmer or boil.
- 1 chicken carcass, broken down into 2- to 3-inch pieces
- 1 – 2 broccoli stalks, chopped into 2- to 3-inch pieces
- 1 handful kale and/or chard stems, chopped into 2- to 3-inch pieces
- 2 carrots, with greens if available, chopped into 2- to 3-inch pieces
- 2 celery stalks, or 1 celery heart, chopped into 2- to 3-inch pieces
- 1 large onion, unpeeled, cut into quarters
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 small handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped or torn
- 10 – 20 black peppercorns
- 4 – 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
- Rinse the chicken carcass under cold running water and then place it in a large (12-quart) stock pot along with the rest of the ingredients: broccoli, kale and/or chard stems, carrots, celery, onion, bay leaves, parsley, peppercorns, and thyme.
- Pour in enough filtered, cold water to cover everything. Since our pot has measurements on the inside, we fill it up to the 10-quart line.
- Place on the stove over medium heat and bring slowly to a boil.
- As soon as the stock begins to simmer, turn the heat down to the lowest setting.
- Using a soup ladle, skim off any scum that has risen to the surface.
- Cover and let the stock steep for 8 hours or overnight on the lowest setting of your stove. If you are using a crockpot, I assume that you could then pour everything in a crockpot and let it cook there for 8 hours. If you want to use your oven, place the stock in a 250 degree F oven for 8 hours.
- After your stock has cooked for 8 or more hours, strain the stock through a cheesecloth into a large bowl. Discard the debris.
- Ideally, you would want to chill the stock overnight in your refrigerator and then skim off the fat, but we’re lazy and just skip this step. Just make sure to use your stock within 6 to 9 months.
- At this point, you can just freeze your stock if you don’t want to bother canning.
- Prepare water bath canner, jars, and lids. Don’t forgot to add ½ cup vinegar to canner water to keep your bottles looking nice.
- Pour the stock back into a clean, large pot and bring up to a boil.
- Once your jars are hot and the stock is just off boil, fill your jars leaving 1-inch headspace.
- Wipe rims and place hot lids on jar, screwing band down tightly.
- Place jars in canner. The water should come up to the shoulders of the jars, not covering the jars. Lock the canner lid into place.
- Bring the pot up to a boil and let the steam vent for at least 10 minutes.
- After the pot has been sufficiently vented, apply the pressure regulator and bring the pot up to pressure. For specific information about what pressure you need to can your stock at, visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.
- Once it hits the correct pressure, adjust the heat so that it stays at that pressure. If your canner drops below the required pressure level at any point during the timed process, you have to start the time over again as soon as it comes back to the correct level.
- Once the time is up, turn off the stove and leave the canner alone. If the burner stays hot for a long time, slide the pot to a cooler spot on the stove, but other than that, just let it sit.
- When the jars are finally cool enough to handle, remove them from the pot.
- Dry the jars and store them in a cool spot out of direct sunlight.
- For more information about pressure canning, visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation website. Be sure to check your dial pressure canner gauges yearly.