Homemade chicken stock is easy to make and incredibly flavorful. It freezes great and adds depth to soups, stews and casseroles. Once you make your first batch of homemade chicken stock, you’ll never go back to store bought.
Homemade Chicken Stock
2 tablespoons (28 ml) olive oil
1 onion, medium dice
4 pounds (1.8 kg) chicken, preferably air chilled
3 stalks celery, medium dice
3 medium-size carrots, medium dice
water to cover
stems from a bunch of parsley (the leaves will go in the pot pie)
sprig of fresh thyme
2 tablespoons (10 g) whole black peppercorns
Just as there is a proper vessel for everything, there is a proper method in which to prepare chicken for a specific dish. Chicken is amazingly versatile; it can be roasted on high heat, deep-fried, pan-fried, braised, smoked, stewed, and even stuck on a beer can and put on a grill. Each way has its appropriate uses. For pot pie, if you have a whole chicken, put it in a pot with water. At the same time you are making stock for the gravy.
Heat the olive oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat and add the onions when it’s hot. Stir it and when it just becomes fragrant, add the rest of the mirepoix. Let it sauté for a few minutes. Salt the chicken inside and out and put in the stockpot. Cover with cold water and add the parsley stems, thyme, and peppercorns. The stock will begin to bubble after about 25 minutes. As this happens, a dirty foam will collect on the surface of the liquid. Get a ladle and discard it. You are now skimming the scum. Skim it all before it comes to a boil and reincorporates the scum into the stock. Cover the pot immediately with a lid and turn the burner off.
After 30 minutes check the chicken. Pull on the drumstick with tongs; it should be very wiggly. Pull the chicken out and let it cool until you can pick it. Take out the skin and bones, put back in the stockpot, and let it simmer for another hour. Shred your chicken into good pieces, not too chunky and nothing like cat food. Strain your stock and reserve 2 cups (475 ml) for gravy. Stock freezes really well or keeps in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
The ratio of onions to carrots and celery should be even; this is a classic French mirepoix. It’s used in stocks, soups, sauces, and braises. When you cut a mirepoix it’s important for the vegetables to be the same size so they cook at the same time.