For years and years, simmering a big pot of homemade stock has been one of my favorite “warm up the kitchen and make it smell good all day” go-to’s, and there really isn’t anything better than fresh stock in a nice fall soup to really ring that comfort food bell (in addition to potatoes and cheese, of course.)
I’ll make stock out of almost anything. So much so that I’m constantly running out of Tupperware containers. “They’re all full of stock in the freezer,” I tell my leftover-loving husband, which is why he’ll often end up saving mashed potatoes in a ziplock bag.
(I shamelessly steal all the Tupperware for stock, which happens to be conveniently located directly under Gertie)
For chicken stock, I’ll use an aging deli chicken which has been mostly picked apart by my family. For ham stock, I’ll use the Easter/Christmas hambone. For Vegetable stock, I’ll keep a collection of “ugly veggies” for a couple days, and turn them into stock. Can’t be ugly if they’re delicious!
I’ve found that making Beef stock is a more infrequent, simply for a lack of the proper material. We buy boneless steaks and roasts, typically (and not very many at that, thanks to Gertie). Typically my fodder comes from a two-step nefarious plan to A) delight my family with Slow Cooker Beef Ribs (I’ll link the recipe soon) so that I can take the rib bones for stock for Plan B). Muahaha.
I use a large stock pot with a drainer. I think I would die without it (or definitely have more burns and food stains on myself), so I definitely recommend.
Please just ignore my scone.
With drainer inside the stock pot, I toss/scrape/cajole every bit of the carcass and it’s affiliates straight in (salty, fatty bits, solidified fat-gravy – everything goes in.)
Fill it with enough cool water to cover the carcass, with at least a few extra inches on top. With a deli chicken, this is about 8 cups (if you are using a strainer like mine, be sure the water level is lower so it doesn’t boil out.)
Set on a medium-low burner and cover. Check and taste every hour. I rarely add salt – usually the meat (especially those greasy deli chickens) is salty enough. You may want to add flavors, however. Garden fresh rosemary, lavender, garlic, chives, basil and onion have all floated in mine from time to time.
Cook on low for 6-18 hours. The longer you cook it, the deeper the flavor. It takes a while to get that marrow out of the bones, and *that* is where the flavor is.
Drain well. I tilt mine up and let it drain for 30 min.
To prep for homemade chicken/turkey soup in advance, I separate the soggy, disgusting carcass pile into viable vs. non-viable pieces. I toss the good stuff into a larger Tupperware, and throw the rest away (but don’t forget to save the wishbone!)
To reduce fat content, let the pot cool for 30 min, then lift the fat layer off the top with a spoon. I think it adds weight and flavor, so I typically skip this step, unless I know I’ll be making a clear soup.
I use a ladle to stir/spoon the stock into individual containers so that they’re balanced with flavor. If you have one set aside with chicken/turkey, make sure it’s a larger Tupperware. BIG HINT: using multiple smaller containers means you can defrost only what you need.
Leave 1/2″ at the top, as the liquid will expand in the freezer. Seal up tight, and then label if desired.
I got this one out for tonight’s Hunters Return Home meal, which will include a creamy homemade Potato, Cheddar, Beer, and Sausage soup. Recipe shortly.
Note: After a couple days drying time, challenge your kid to the wishbone. Stand still while they pull. You’ll win every time.