A few years ago I started buying whole chickens because they were cheaper. For about $6.00 I can get a whole, antibiotic-free chicken from Sam’s Club. I can generally get enough meat off that thing for three meals, which makes it pretty cheap. When I finished taking all the meat I could get off the chicken each time, there was this big chicken carcass left that still had some good stuff on it. I decided I couldn’t waste it, so I started making my own chicken stock from scratch.
It’s actually SUPER easy. And bonus, it makes your house smell heavenly. It also freezes well, which is awesome. I find this recipe typically makes about 4 quarts for me. SO I generally use 2 quarts right away, and then freeze the other two quarts in a freezer baggie. Works like a charm every time.
Isn’t this a pretty picture? Yumm. Raw chicken. So this is generally what my raw chicken carcass looks like going into the pot. I intentionally leave a little extra meat on it, because I remove the meat and use it the same night for chicken noodle soup. BUT if you’ve also properly carved your chicken before starting this stock, it works just as well. I’ve done it both ways. Dump ALL the leftover pieces in the pot. Skin, bone, fat – everything. This will give your stock amazing flavor, and keep you from wasting anything as well.
This is what I always add. One bunch of celery, roughly chopped. One white onion roughly chopped. 6-8 large carrots roughly chopped, or about a cup of baby carrots, just whatever I have on hand. I add them to the pot, then fill it with water until the chicken is just covered. You don’t want to add too much water, or it will make your stock watery, and not delicious. Salt and pepper to taste.
While your stock is cooking this is what it will look like. Cook it on medium/high heat for 2-4 hours on the stove top. It will just simmer and boil, smelling wonderful the whole time. Your chicken stock from scratch will be a pretty yellow color when it’s finished.
When it’s completely done cooking, remove the large chicken piece with tongs, and set it on a large plate or in a large bowl. Then use a strainer to strain all the vegetables, fat, and skin from the stock, leaving you with nothing but the liquid. Separate however you need to for storage. It freezes very well. It will also need to be watered down before you use it in a soup. It’s way too strong to just be used straight, unless you’re using a recipe that just calls for a certain amount of chicken stock. For soup, I generally use a 1:1 ratio for chicken stock from scratch and water to give it the perfect flavor that isn’t overbearing.
Now that you’ve done it once, you can easily repeat it without a recipe. It saves you a TON of money and tastes ten times better than store bought ever will. Bonus, you didn’t waste any part of the whole chicken you bought either! It’s a win, win, win!