Confused by the title? Me too. Let’s take this one step at a time. Homemade chicken stock and broth is one of most versatile ingredients one will come in contact with in day to day cooking. Not only is it great for a quick batch of soup when somebody has a wittle bewwy ache, but equally good for deglazing pans for sauces, for cooking veggies and rice, and tasty even on its own. See, I cleverly named the post so that people searching for “how to make” and “recipe” find a match for both chicken “stock” and “broth.” Pretty sneaky, no? You should see what I do when I flop a nut straight UTG (read: Texas Hold’em). But there is even a more compelling reason, you see…
So what is all this business with people arguing about the difference between stock and broth? Depending on with whom one speaks, it becomes evident that while there is some confusion, for the most part a “stock” is considered a more basic flavor infused cooking liquid, and in the case of the tasty animal persuasion (chicken, beef, lamb, pork etc.) is made with bones. Broth, on the other hand is supposed to be more flavorful and will often contain a wider array and greater quantity of herbs, spices and other seasonings. Broth is said to be made, again in the case of tasty animals, with flesh and not bones.
So what have I actually made here? Well you decide for yourself after reading the post, but rest assured it is absolutely awesome compared to the relatively low grade store bought versions that contain a shit-ton of salt and other stuff that most people can’t pronounce. You see, what I make is both a broth and a stock, unless of course you insist they are mutually exclusive.
Ingredient 1: Chicken breast bones.
These little bastards are fairly hard to get one’s hands on, even at a farmers market. The reason being, all the lil ol’biddies who have been making stock for decades know they produce BY FAR the best stock. Consider this:
We go to bed between 7:30-9PM and wake up at 4AM
The butcher will probably only be in possession of breast bones in a quantity equivalent to the number of bone-off breast cuts he has to sell.
5 Pounds of breast bones (about $3) are required to produce 6 qts. of finished stock (about 4 chickens)
Theorize with me here: The possiblity of one obtaining breast bones from the farmers market (P) is a function of the total number (N) of breast bones available, minus the product of the number of chickens/batch (4) number of people shopping at your grocer (OL), multiplied by their likelihood to make exactly 1 batch of stock this week(L), assuming, of course, one drinks enough the night before shopping to eliminate the chance of beating any of the ol’ biddies to the store. If P > 0 you’re in business, if P < 0, not so much. So we have:
P = N – 4(OL X L), where N & OL, are positive integers and L is a positive number between 0 and 1. Just for the sake of an example, if it is the middle of winter (making the stock making likelihood 90%) and you live in a small town, say population 500, that is 20% ol’ biddies and there is 1 chicken grocer who has 100 bone off breasts to sell the numbers would look like this:
P = 100 – 4( (.2X500) X (.90) ), when solved for P = -260 = no soup for you (in fact, at this rate there will be SEVERAL disappointed ol’ biddies, as demand is out pacing supply by such a high degree). The point? Unless you are willing to get up at 4AM during peak stock times, order your breast bones in advance, or send in an one you have working for you as an agent to get some for you (I enlist the services of my father).
Thoroughly wash the breast bones and place them in about 8qt of cool water and bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Some people will say if the bones go directly into already heated water, the need for skimming will be reduced. This is correct, in that less scum will rise to the top, but only because the proteins have already been denatured and absorbed back into the water, resulting in a less than clear stock. Some people will add their flavorings before skimming the simmering bones for about an hour, this works but makes it more difficult as the flavorings tend to rise to the top, complicating the skimming process.
Breast bones simmering away:
Ingredient 2: flavoring:
I like to keep the flavor of my stock fairly simple, so that I can use it in almost any application. I stick with the standard, onions (green and yellow), carrots, celery, bay leaves, thyme . Feel free to put the onions in with the skins still on, as they add deep hue to the final stock. Most of what I use is “junk” as in “left-over in the freezer for all eternity.” Keep a bag in there for whenever you have extra carrots or celery or trimmings of whatever persuasion you like. The only “fresh” ingredient I use is thyme (and possibly onion, depending on what’s in the pantry vs. freezer at the time).
Here are my flavorings doing their annoying dance on top of the water surface tension:
It is clear that I did not heed my own advice and now skimming is going to be more difficult:
Skim, SKIM, SKIM!!! Like you really mean it. The more junk you pull out, the more clear the color and flavor of the finished product. Rule in my house: If you get up for any reason during the first 2 hours of simmering, skim the stock. Here is what is leftover:
Everything has been adequately skimmed, and now we allow another 3 hours or so of reducing and flavor infusing:
Here is the stock after being run through a strainer. Note all the fat “bubbles” in there.
I don’t like my stock to be so fatty, so I stash it in the fridge overnight in a large tupperware and then manually scrape about 90% of the fat off the top prior to freezing. It will keep for about 6 months in the freezer, but I find it never hangs around that long (I make this probably once per month).
So is this stock or broth? Well I did make it with bones, but then again there is enough “meat” on those breast bones to make at least a qt of quite chicken-y chicken noodle soup if I were to pick them. Is it broth because of this meat? I did add some robust flavors, onion, thyme, etc., but only in small quantities so as to not bring any one center stage, like a stock, but then again if I added some chopped celery and noodles, this would be a tasty “soup” without any other manipulation. I’m gonna go ahead and say this is a Brock – I love this brock. If you haven’t already, check out making some of your own, you’ll never go back to buying pre-made junk again.