Making chicken stock at home is extremely easy to do and very cost-effective. It is the perfect by-product of roasting a chicken. Here’s the basic premise: Put chicken bones and vegetables into a stockpot, cover with cold water then simmer away. It really is as simple as that.
More and more of us are rediscovering the advantages of healthy home cooking and have taken to eating whole, unprocessed foods again. Farmer markets are helping to make local grass-fed meats, wild fish, vegetables, and fruits more accessible. Authors like Michael Pollan are reminding us that eating smaller amounts of protein and larger amounts of vegetables is actually better for us.
Next time you roast a chicken save the bones and make your own homemade chicken stock.
Cooking Stock at Home
The transition back to cooking and eating properly can benefit from some sage chef wisdom. Home cooks always seem to be looking for an easier, faster way to cook things. Sometimes quick and easy isn’t really quicker, easier or even cheaper. The more I cook at home the more I draw on my early experiences as a Chef in some great restaurants to help those struggling at home.
One thing that never ceases to amaze me is those four dollars each quart-sized tetra packs of stocks available in all grocery stores. God knows I myself have used countless quarts when I needed stock in a pinch. Then I started reading the ingredient list and was appalled to find that even the organic ones contained ingredients like ‘natural chicken flavor’ and far more salt than you could ever imagine.
P.s. Do your own research on what natural chicken flavor means. I’ll give you a hint, it’s not chicken.
Michel LeBorgne, My Mentor
Many years ago, ok several decades, I graduated from the prestigious New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont. At the time, the school was run by Michel LeBorgne, a hard-nosed French Chef from Northern France. Like every great Chef before him (and probably every one since) Michel had his aphorisms that we lived our lives by. They were repeatedly drummed into our thick skulls as we chopped endless vegetables, sauteed oceans worth of fresh fish, and struggled to make perfectly clear stocks.
Most of his sayings were modified from the classic themes of how older generations had it much harder than us young punks. ‘We were so poor as apprentices, we only had one pair of shoes between the two of us” or “I used to walk to the restaurant uphill both ways.” The one that stuck and became part of my own repertoire of aphorisms was “I lost my first million in the garbage can”. That line inspired me throughout my career and helped maintain very low food costs and run a tight ship. Even now, decades later I am still guided by that principle.
Lost My First Million
“I lost my first million in the garbage can” – Michel LeBorgne, Chef/Instructor, NECI
One of my biggest pet peeves is the amount of waste thrown away in many professional kitchens. A while back, I did a consulting gig for a terribly run restaurant in Southern California. I stood in the kitchen and watched in amazement as one cook trimmed chicken wings off whole chickens and threw them away into a garbage bin. Standing five feet away, on the same table, was another cook opening bags of frozen wings to use for an appetizer. Watching this was unbearable. Michel LeBorgne’s line immediately popped back into my head.
In my kitchens, I taught my cooks to save vegetable trimmings for use in the countless stocks that quietly simmer around the clock. Every day we burned through 50-pound bags of carrots, onions, cases of celery, and several pounds of fresh herbs. A million dollars in the garbage happens far quicker than most people can fathom.
Reduce Waste in Your Home
I started applying the same concept to my own home. I put a stainless steel bowl in my freezer and every time I peeled a carrot or an onion I would add the peelings to it. When it was full, I made my stock. The most common ingredients in my home were fresh herbs (thyme, tarragon, chives, and rosemary), celery, garlic, tomatoes, and onion peelings.
TIP: When you are ready to make your stock, add whatever vegetables may be deficient. Don’t stress, whatever you do is way better than buying that pre-made stuff.
Save Money By DIY Cooking
When you think about it, buying a whole chicken is smarter and cheaper cost saving. One whole organic chicken costs around 10 to 12 dollars. I can get six servings out of it and about three quarts of stock. The value of the stock alone is $12 if you buy a comparable amount of tetra packs. Here is a super simple method for roasting chickens.
Homemade Chicken Stock (Bone Broth in Hipster Speak)
Try my method of keeping a bowl in your freezer. It reduces food waste and makes for an easy way to have fresh chicken stock available whenever you need it.
Homemade Chicken Stock
A quick and easy chicken stock recipe.
- 1 chicken carcass including all the trimmings and fat
- 4 ribs celery washed and roughly chopped
- 6 carrots washed and roughly chopped
- 2 onions chopped
- 1 head garlic cut in half
- 1 bunch thyme add tarragon, rosemary, chive if you like
- 1 bay leaf
- 20 peppercorns
- cold water to cover
Put everything into a large stockpot, cover with cold water, then bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer and let gently cook for 6 hours on low heat.
Strain through a fine-meshed strainer then freeze in recycled glass jars.