First off, I am a huge fan of sticking it to the man.
In this case, the man happens to be companies, huge and small, that convince you they should do simple things like slice bread for you and make you bland stock. Stock is something that is extremely useful and easy to make yourself and freeze for future consumption. Also, it’s a good way to retain nutrients from flabby vegetables and weird chicken parts you’re not going to eat otherwise. The veggies can go in the compost after you make stock out of them.
You can make chicken stock out of soft carrots, onions, celery, parsley, chicken bones, and gizzards. Our grandparents (or great-grandparents) may not have done this (unless you are French), but they should have instead of making boils. It is resourceful, not too hard, and it makes everything more delicious and nutritious. If you’ve never made stock before, you can use a good reference book like Stocking Up by Carol H. Stoner or Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, but I outline the basics in the following steps. I don’t add salt, pepper, or herbs until I’m using the stock to make soup, rice, stir fry, or whatever I decide to make with it.
- Think about your biggest stock pot, and you will need to fill it half way (or less) with veggies and chicken. You can use only veggies to make a yummy vegetarian stock.
- Save up your veggies and chicken parts for a week or so by throwing them in the freezer. Use a Ziploc or plastic bag so you don’t get salmonella on your ice.
- When you have enough produce and chicken for your stock, put the chicken into the pot and cover generously with water. Pretend the pot is divided into 8 sections and if the chicken fills up to the 3, add water to the 6 so there is more than twice as much water as chicken.
- Bring just to a boil, then lower to a low simmer.
- Next, you perform the most important step: skim the grime off. Also known as scum. This is where you get a lot of the fat out and you remove the bits that will affect the stock clarity. This is not a science, and you can always skim more. Just do it a few times and call it “good enough.” You will be straining the stock, so no need to go crazy neurotic here.
- When the previous step is complete, add the veggies.
- Bring the stock up just to a boil again, and lower to a low simmer.
- Keep it at a low simmer for a few hours for a 4 quart size pot, and for 6-8 hours for a huge stock pot. For a huge pot, I let it simmer over night, but you need to be very careful. It needs to be on low, and there should be plenty of liquid in the pot. If you often forget about things on the stove, don’t do this!
- When done, strain the veggies and chicken pieces out. Reserve the stock and let cool. You can fill quart- or pint-sized containers with the stock and freeze.
I know it seems like a long time, but you don’t need to interact with it much after the skimming step. And when you’re done, you can use the stock to make delicious soup, and any other dish to give the flavor more depth and nutrients. Use it instead of water when you make rice, or use it in a stir fry.