Serves: Makes about 12 cups
- 4 to 5 pounds mixed chicken pieces (backs, necks, legs, and/or thighs), most of the skin removed
- 1 large yellow onion, quartered
- 3 carrots, coarsely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1 sprig fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12 cups cold water, more if needed
Procedures:Making stock from scratch can seem like a daunting task, particularly when it’s just one part of a recipe. But the way I approach it is to make the stock in advance—up to a month or two, frozen in an airtight container—so when it comes time to make soup, the stock needs only to be thawed. Better yet, double the recipe and store the stock in different portion sizes; 1 quart, 1 cup, even in ice cube trays for smaller doses. You’ll be thrilled to have it on hand for quick addition to any number of recipes.
Ask your butcher if he can supply you with chicken backs and/or necks, which contribute great depth of flavor to the stock. Otherwise, use less-expensive pieces, such as legs and thighs, with most of the skin removed. If you have a whole chicken or turkey carcass from a recent meal, you can use that as well, embellished with raw chicken pieces for added flavor.
- Combine the chicken pieces, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and salt in a large stockpot. Add the cold water, which should cover the ingredients by 1 to 2 inches; add more water if needed.
- Bring just to a boil over medium-high heat, using a slotted spoon to skim off the frothy foam that rises to the surface as the water heats. As soon as the water boils, decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer for 2 hours. The water should not bubble actively, nor be too placid; adjust the heat if needed.
- Let the stock cool to near room temperature, then spoon off most of the fat from the surface. Strain the stock, reserving any leg or thigh meat for another use if you like.