Chicken stock is a necessity at our house. I use it in soups and stews. I use it when I braise meats and make pan sauces. I use it when I make gravy or saute greens (kale or rapini with onions, lemon juice & zest, and a little stock – delicious!). I use it a lot. And I use a lot of it.
Since we raise chickens and I use so much stock it only makes sense to make it myself. So I often make a big batch on a Sunday and then pressure can it. You can freeze it also but if I decide to add a little stock on the fly it’s a lot easier to pop open a pint jar than to defrost a quart bag of frozen stock. And please stop being intimidated by pressure canning. I swear it is no big whoop!
For this batch I used two chicken legs and a random bag of wings (6 wings total) that I found in the bottom of the freezer. Sometimes I roast the meat first for a darker, richer stock but I wanted this round to be lighter so they went into the pot raw.
I added the meat to my big stock pot along with some celery I snagged from JP’s Organics, onions from our garden, some carrots from my in-laws, a couple of bay leaves, and whole peppercorns. Then I added enough COLD water to almost fill the pot. This was on the stove all day over low heat. Low heat. You don’t want to boil or even really simmer your stock. Low and slow is the key.
I didn’t take any photos. It wasn’t all that exciting I guess. Plus I had other things going on.
Later that night I strained it and put it in the fridge to sit overnight. I discarded the veggies and then pulled all the chicken meat from the bones. That chicken meat went on to become chicken and biscuits with gravy a couple days later.
I added the shredded chicken to a pot with a little stock and some fresh thyme and simmered it for a bit. In the meantime I made homemade buttermilk biscuits and chicken gravy. Then we enjoyed chicken and biscuits with gravy for dinner. It is probably one of my all time favorite meals. Delicious.
Ok, back to the stock. I did a take a picture of what it looked like after a day in the fridge.
Fat and other little bits that I didn’t care for in this round of stock. FYI – I’m not always this meticulous. Oftentimes I just take it off the stove, strain out the bones and veg, and then can it straight away. I just wanted a clearer stock this go ’round.
After it was strained I put it back on the stove and brought it to a boil.
Boil?! Didn’t I just go on and on about cold water and low heat? Yes. But for pressure canning you have to bring the liquid to a boil. Them’s the rules and I don’t want botulism so I follow the rules.
I canned this stock at 10lbs pressure in two batches – 20 minutes for pints and 25 minutes for quarts. My yield was 3 quarts and 8 pints. Not bad!
After 24 hours & popped tops I removed the bands and labeled the jars
Ok, so maybe you’re not interested in canning your own chicken stock. Or maybe you’re a vegetarian and you want nothing to do with this stuff. Fair enough. But stock (meat or vegetable) is a pantry essential. If I’m ever out of stock and buy it I usually get vegetable stock. Stock not broth. And I always get low sodium – the regular stuff has loads of salt which is totally unnecessary because you’re going to be seasoning your final dish anyways. And I like the stuff in the boxes over the canned stuff.
So homemade or store bought don’t skimp on this stuff and keep it handy. That is my PSA.