Learning how to make chicken stock is one of the best favors you can do for yourself. Making chicken stock is really easy, and it’s better than anything you’ll buy in a store. To top it all off, it’s essentially free, since you make it out of things you’d probably throw out otherwise.
There are a lot of ways to use chicken stock. You can use it as a base for soups, sauces and gravies. You can use it to cook vegetables or rice. You can use it instead of milk in mashed potatoes. You can use it to replace water in a lot of dishes to add more depth of flavor. And the list goes on…!
There are just so many ways that a good chicken stock can improve your cooking. It’s definitely worth having a good supply on hand. And the better the stock, the better the meals you make with it. And the best stock is a homemade stock!
In this two-part article, I’ll show you how to make chicken stock, from start to finish. In Part I, I’ll talk about the difference between chicken stock and chicken broth, and the difference between a brown stock and a white stock. In Part II, I’ll go over the actual processes of making the chicken stock, clarifying it, and storing it.
Stock And Broth – What’s The Difference?
If you cook a lot, I’m sure that you’ve seen plenty of recipes calling for chicken broth and chicken stock. A lot of times, the words “stock” and “broth” are just thrown around as though they’re interchangeable. But actually, they’re not.
So what’s the difference?
The Way They’re Made
Chicken stock and chicken broth are similar, it’s true… Both are made from heating chicken parts in water. But they’re not actually the same thing.
Stock has a much richer flavor and more depth to it. It actually feels different in your mouth. So where does the difference come from? The simple answer is:
- Chicken stock is made from chicken bones, simmered in water for 4 to 6 hours.
- Chicken broth is made from chicken meat, simmered in water for 1 to 3 hours.
It’s actually a pretty important difference, because bones contain a protein called collagen. When you heat collagen, it breaks down and turns into gelatin. The gelatin goes into your stock, and gives it that special texture and taste that’ll make your soups and sauces out of this world.
Collagen takes a lot of time and heat to break down into gelatin. That’s why making chicken stock takes so much more time than making chicken broth. Luckily, you don’t have to sit there watching your stock simmer for 6 hours, so it’s not a whole lot more effort!
One more little note about making chicken stock. You don’t have to use only chicken bones to make the stock. You can also add a little bit of chicken meat to the stockpot.
In fact, most chicken stock recipes use herbs, spices, and aromatic vegetables like celery, onion and carrots to add some extra flavor. You can add some meat to do just the same thing, just as long as you have enough bones to get all that gelatin into the stock.
The Way They’re Used
Now that we’ve gone over the difference in how to make chicken stock and chicken broth, we can talk about the differences in how to use them.
Actually, you can use stock anywhere you’d use broth. You’ll just get a richer flavor and texture. You can even dilute the stock a little bit to get it to be more broth-like. This is a good idea if you don’t want it to be as flavorful (if you’re going for a very subtle chicken flavor, for example).
What about using broth instead of stock? Well, for certain recipes it’s okay to make the switch. You can do this for most soups and sauces, for example. You just won’t get that depth of flavor that a good stock brings to the mix.
But there are certain cases where you just have to use stock – no substitutions allowed!
- If you’re trying to deglaze a pan (that is, adding some liquid to the pan to dissolve all the flavorful brown bits in there), broth just won’t work. The gelatin in the stock helps bind to the bits left in the pan and lets you deglaze it properly.
- In some dishes, the jelly-like texture of stock is actually really important. For example, jellied soups and aspics need a good, rich stock to make. A broth will never set the same way a stock will.
For the most part, use your judgment here. If it looks like the jelly will be important, use stock. If not, use stock if you can, but don’t worry… the world won’t end just because you had to substitute a little chicken broth for your stock.
White Stocks and Brown Stocks
Okay, we’ve determined that making chicken stock takes chicken bones. But you may be wondering whether you need to use raw bones, or whether you can use leftover bones from a roast chicken.
The answer is: both. When making chicken stock, you can use either raw or roasted bones. Here’s the difference:
Making chicken stock using raw bones will give you a lighter, paler, and clearer stock, called a white stock.
You can use a white stock if a pale color is important for whatever dish you’re making, or if you’re looking for more of a subtle flavor.
You can usually extract more gelatin from raw bones, so if you’re making something where the jellied consistency is really important, a white stock might be better.
Making chicken stock using roasted bones will give you a darker stock with a fuller flavor, called a brown stock. A brown stock is generally quite a bit tastier that a white stock.
If you need lots of gelatin in your stock, you may want to add more bones to the stockpot than you would for a white stock, to get a higher gelatin content.
If you don’t have a leftover roast, you can roast some raw chicken bones in the oven at 450F, for about 45 minutes. While you’re at it, roast the aromatic vegetables that you’ll use. It’ll be extra delicious.
In the end, you can use either a white stock or a brown stock whenever you need to use chicken stock. It all comes down to whichever you prefer.
Alright, now that we know what stock really is, we’re ready to move on to Part II: How To Make Chicken Stock.