Claudia Keel has three different methods for cooking up chicken stock. The following are her recipes. All of them are easy, especially if you have a crockpot. I usually leave mine simmering away for a couple of days.
Equipment You'll Need for Making Chicken Stock
• Large stainless steal or enamel stockpot or crockpot (4 to 6 quart) and a strainer.
• Glass jar(s) for storing the stock in the refrigerator or freezer.
Basic Ingredients to Make the Magic Happen
• Chicken bones including cartilage parts, ideally including neck, feet and head. The bones can be from a fresh or roasted chicken. Seek out organic, pastured poultry–the higher quality ingredients, the higher quality the stock.
• Apple cider vinegar or any acid such as lemon juice.
• Water. Quality here too matters. Seek out filtered or spring water.
Extra Ingredients for More Magic (Also Adds More Nutrients & Flavor)
• Chicken with meat. Often butchers sell odd parts such as back necks and gizzards for making stock but you can also use a whole chicken (see making stock method 2).
• Gizzards (organs). Some chefs claim that stock made with organs create a less pure stock aesthetically. Nutritionally, there is no reason to keep organs out of the stockpot, and they add a depth of flavor, though I generally exclude the liver as it imparts a stronger flavor. If your chicken is a rooster, add the comb. This will add more gelatin along with testosterone to the stock.
• Bay leaves, 2-3 per 6 cups (a great basic seasoning), thyme, sage and/or 10-12 peppercorns.
• Vegetable and vegetable scraps, particularly carrots, celery & parsley. They offer even more minerals to the stock.
• Garlic and onions offer more sulfur to the stock. Ginger also adds medicinal qualities and flavor.
• Medicinal herbs & spices. Their constituents are much more bioavailable in a stock. Astragulus is a good winter addition and won’t effect the flavor, though other herbs will.
Chicken Stock – Method #1
1. Combine the chicken bones, parts and other ingredients in the stockpot or crockpot, along with apple cider vinegar (1⁄4 cup for every 4-6 quarts but the amounts can vary) and enough cold water to cover the ingredients by @ 2 fingers. (Optional: Remove talon tips off chicken feet with shears or a sharp knife helps to increase gelatin.)
2. Optional: Let sit for 1 hour without heat. This increases the amount of gelatin and minerals released.
3. If using a stockpot on the stove, bring to a boil and skim the scum that comes to the top. (The scum is made of impurities and has an off-flavor. Organic pasture-raised poultry will have much less scum). Then turn down to a simmer, and cover. Simmer low for 12 to 48 hours. If using the crockpot, turn on high to bring a to boil, and skim off scum. (Some crockpots will not heat high enough to bring to a boil though.) Then turn to low and let cook for 12 to 48 hours. (Optional: The time can be cumulative; i.e. not keeping the heat on overnight, the stock can cool at room temperature for up to 12 hours safely.)
4. In the hour before finishing, add green herbs, salt and pepper. Salt and pepper may be omitted and added later to the dish.
5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer all the bones, parts, and skin to a catch bowl. Ladleful by ladleful, strain the stock through a strainer into a glass jar for storage. Allow to cool.
6. Put the stock in the refrigerator for up to five days (an unbroken fat layer will help the stock keep longer), or store in the freezer for several months. Be careful when freezing liquids in glass jars, as there is a risk of breaking the jar. Minimize the risk by keeping the level of liquid below the shoulder of the jar and not capping tightly until frozen. Also laying the jar on its side in the freezer prevents cracking. Or avoid the issue completely by using other freezer storage containers. Seek out BPH free containers as BPH can leech out in freezer.
7. Optional: To save freezer space, create a reduction sauce. Use the stovetop and allow the stock to simmer at a low boil for a few additional hours with the lid off, during which time much of the water will evaporate, leaving a thicker stock with less volume.
8. Optional: Freeze stock in muffin tins or ice cube trays and then store in zip-lock bags for easy access to small amounts to add to sauces and dishes.
Chicken Stock–Method #2–Whole Chicken
1. Place whole or cut up chicken (old layers or roosters are wonderful here), feet and other ingredients in the stockpot or crockpot, along with apple cider vinegar (1⁄4 cup for every 4-6 quarts but the amounts can vary) and enough water to cover the ingredients by about 2 fingers.
2. Follow steps 2-3 above, except . . .
3. After about 1 hour when the chicken meat is cooked, take the chicken out and remove and reserve it the for other dishes. Add bones and other parts back to the pot and continue to simmer 12-48 hours.
4. Follow steps 4-7 above.
Chicken Stock–Method #3–Perpetual stock.
Use a crockpot for stock. Keep it on low all the time. Replace water every time you take stock out. Replace the bones every three to five days. You can check to see if it is still gelling by taking some out and chilling it. You can also go by flavor–when it starts reducing in flavor, it is time to switch the bones out. Of course, you’ll want to wash the crockpot every once in awhile. This will save time, and also–perhaps more importantly–give ready-to-use stock to boost the nutrition in countless dishes & meals!