Making stock is as simple as throwing chicken (whole, pieces, or bones) into a pot, covering it with water, and letting it simmer for a few hours. Vegetables and aromatics such as onions, carrots, celery, bay leaves, peppercorns, etc. will add depth of flavor to a stock, but they are not essential — if you don’t have them or don’t feel like adding them, don’t go running out to buy them.
In fact, when I worked in professional kitchens, we only made stock from scraps — scraps of chicken, beef, and pork, onion skins, carrot peels, celery bottoms, pepper stems, etc. We never chopped up whole chickens or cut up onions for the sake of making stock.
Having a walk-in full of ingredients is a luxury the home cook does not have and thus buying meat and vegetables for the purpose of making stock makes sense, but my point is this: if you have an onion, you can peel it and simply use the peel; or you can peel it, chop it up, and use all of it; or you can save the onion entirely for something else.
Additionally, there is no need to brown meat or sauté vegetables for your homemade stocks—again, these extra measures will provide depth of flavor, but they are not necessary. I repeat: throwing chicken or chicken bones into a pot with water and letting it simmer will yield a flavorful stock.
When I want to make a big batch of stock, I will buy chicken legs and wings, anywhere from 3 to 6 lbs. depending on how much stock I want to make.
When I’m feeling economical, I like to do this: Buy a whole chicken, remove the legs with their bones (to be used for one meal) as well as the breasts (to be used for another meal) and throw the two wings and remaining carcass into the stock pot. I cover these bones/meat with water and let simmer for 2 to 3 hours without any additions (carrots, celery, etc.), and I get about 1.5 quarts of really flavorful stock. This is a small amount of stock, however, so if you wish to make more, use a whole chicken or more legs, wings, etc. Recipe below.
These quart containers are so handy to have on hand for freezing stock, soups, stews, etc.
If you want guidance breaking down a chicken as described above, here’s a video:
Making stock is as simple as throwing chickens in a pot, covering them with water, and letting them simmer for a few hours. Additions such as onions, carrots, celery, bay leaves, peppercorns, etc., of course, enhance the flavor of the stock, but if you don’t have them or don’t feel like adding them, it doesn’t matter.
The below recipe truly can be simplified to chicken + water.
- 3 lbs chicken, such as a whole chicken or wings or legs or just bones
- 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped, no need to peel
- 1/2 tsp. whole peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 onion, cut in half, peel and all
- Place chicken or chicken bones into a large pot. Add remaining ingredients. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat so that the water is gently simmering. Scoop off and discard any scum that bubbles up at the surface. Let simmer gently for about 2 hours.
- Place a colander over a large bowl. Pour contents of stock pot through the colander. Discard all of these pieces once they have cooled. Transfer stock to storage containers and place in the fridge overnight or until completely chilled and fat has formed a solid layer at the top of the container. Scoop off this fat and discard. Freeze stock or store in fridge for at least a week.