Making Stock: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly


This post contains photographs of a graphic nature. If you are too squeamish to want to look at where your food comes from, if you cannot abide meat that looks like it came from an animal, then stop reading, move along and don’t look any further, because some of these photographs depict in graphic detail, various body parts of chickens, and the sight is not pretty.

Cue the Ennio Morricone soundtrack.

You know the one I mean.

Because I have an epic tale to tell. One that is almost (but not quite) as epic as one of Sergio Leone’s classic films.

The tale of making chicken stock, and it is a tale that is full of the good.

Yes, as you can see, the results are good, beautiful and pure: rich, golden, fat-flecked, full-bodied stock that is nothing more or less than the essence of chicken brought forth from the most humble of origins into glory.

But this tale is not all love and beauty, sweetness and light. There is a villain in this tale, which is right and proper, because all the best stories cry out for an antogonist. So, here, also, I will tell you of the bad.

Observe the low criminal forhead and shifting, beady eyes. This cat is up to no good, and in fact, in his self-serving quest for tidbits of chicken, he nearly caused countless kitchen disasters as Morganna and I labored mightily to bring forth the wonderous and nourishing chicken stock.

Ah, but yes, even though there is a villain, he is not the source of all of the ugliness in our story. Oh, no. For, indeed, chicken stock, though it does turn out to be clear, golden and pure, comes from a source which is not only humble but distinctly unattractive. In fact, for some people, the stuff from whence good chicken stock is made is a source of horror and disgust, and they turn their heads away and deny the truth of the viscerally ugly parts of life.

But not me. I am here to tell you all about the ugly, too.

Yes, that photograph does indeed contain what it looks like it contains: a severed chicken foot, after it has been simmered for eleven hours in a pot mixed with many others of its fellows, as well as numerous backs, necks, and an entire poultry charnel house worth of bones, which have been collecting in my freezer over the past year.

But I get ahead of myself.

You see, Saturday, I decided I needed to clean out my freezers, and use up what I could so that I could then turn around and fill said freezers with food I had prepared with an eye toward having plenty of Barbara-made (not government issue) MREs for my personal troops while I recovered from giving birth to Kat.

So, I did just that. Okay, in truth, I cleaned them out Friday afternoon and stuck the resulting concatenation of chicken bones, backs, necks, feet and whole chicken carcasses in my upstairs refrigerator to thaw overnight so that I could do the magical ritual the next morning that turns that whole mess of flesh, blood and bone into a liquid so pure and well-flavored it is like drinking a healing cup of sunlight.

In telling you this tale, I am also writing down instructions on how to go about making French-style white chicken stock in your own home. I hesitate to call this a recipe, because no amounts for the ingredients are given. It all depends on how many chicken bones you have collected and how long you want to simmer them. But, I do guarantee that if you follow these directions, you will make a fine pot of chicken stock which you can then freeze and hoard like gold in your kitchen, or use it profligately until it is spent, kissing all of your cookery with the distinctive essence of our most beloved barnyard fowl.

Chicken Stock: The Fundamentals

Stock comes from bones.

Meat gives it flavor and depth, so it is wise to leave some of it on the bones that you use, but the true essential qualities of stock–its fragrance, richness, and its body–not to mention its healing properties–come from bones. Actually, it comes from the marrow of the bones, which is the spongey matter inside the hard calcified matrix of the bones, from which arises blood and bone cells, and from the connective tissues that hold the bones together.

It comes from all of those ugly but necessary things that reside within animals and our bodies that we never think of–our skeleton. The fluid of life comes from what is, in our culture, the symbol of death, because of course, in normal circumstances, we do not see bones on living persons or creatures. We only see them after death. Until then, they lay hidden deep within us, giving our bodies structure and strength, giving us the ability to walk upright and not fall into puddles of undifferentiated flesh.

To make stock, one must set aside squeamishness and fear. One must learn to look critically at the various body parts of chickens most Americans do not really think about or gaze upon, and one must handle them. Like touch them, and stuff. And one must do this without remorse–for indeed, the chickens involved are certainly no longer using them! But, if one is without remorse, one should handle the bones of chickens with respect and understanding that they did indeed give their lives so that we could eat and enjoy them.

I see the frugal nature of making stock–which is essentially taking what many people consider to be a waste product–to be a highly respectful action toward the chicken–because I am putting to use that which would otherwise be buried in a landfill, or worse, ground up and fed to some other animal who is not necessarily a carnivore.

So, the fundamental ingredient of chicken stock is chicken bones. Where does one get them? (Other than from dead chickens….)

Mine are all from local farmers, most specifically from two local Athens area farmers who raise free-range birds, some of them heritage breeds, for the local market.. I buy whole chickens and bone-in chicken parts all through the year, and when I am finished with the bones, I stick them in the freezer, cooked or not. One farmer with whom I am particularly close also gives me chicken backs, necks and feet–parts that he has the slaughterhouse throw away.

Chinese markets also will sell you chicken feet and necks (because Chinese folks know what goodness resides within those chicken parts and love to use them for soup as well as to eat), as will a reputable butcher. You might try asking at the regular grocery store, -if- they have a real meat department with real meat cutters and butchers on staff, but most of them won’t these days. But, if you live in a reasonable sized city, rest assured, you will be able to find some chicken feet and necks, and quite possibly some backs.

These normally wasted parts of a chicken make an already good chicken stock excellent, especially the feet.

Why the feet?

Well, because they are filled with a lot of connective tissue made of collagen and small, fragile bones filled with gelatin. These two ingredients give stock a quality of richness and body. When a stock made with plenty of chicken feet in it is cooled, it thickens into a gel–almost a consumee. When such a stock is hot, it has a feel on the tongue that is like velvet, and it makes superior soups, gravies and sauces, because as it reduces it thickens and that velvety mouthfeel intensifies along with the flavor.

Before using your bones, you should rinse them off and make sure they are good and clean, especially parts that are normally thrown away, like feet and backs. The slaughterhouse they came from may not be very assiduous in keeping such parts as clean as they might, so it behooves you to give them a nice going over under cold running water. Trim away excessive bits of fat, but not all of it–fat is where flavor resides after all–and remove excessive hunks of skin, because it doesn’t really add much to the stock but excess fat. (If you have dogs, as I do, they appeciate a snack of skin and fat.)

Then, you toss your bones in the pot atop a layer of vegetables, and perhaps the body of a whole chicken that you are cooking along with the stock for extra flavor, and so you can have some good chicken soup, or pot pie, or chicken and noodles for dinner after all is said and done. (If you use a whole chicken, do not add the giblets–the gizzard, the liver and the heart. They make stocks bitter, so leave them out. Cook them separately, save them in the freezer or feed them to your dog or cat.)

What vegetables?

In the French tradition, one uses carrot, celery, onion and leeks, and sometimes, but not often, parsnips. One need not peel these vegetables, but one should scrub them heartily, and cut them into managable sizes to go with the side of your stockpot. (I have a 20 quart stockpot and a thirty quart canning pot, so I don’t do much more than cut leeks and onions in half and long carrots in half if I must.) I don’t use celery, but instead throw a tablespoon or so of celery seed into the pot, which gives the same flavor without me having to buy celery especially for stock. Since I strain my stock anyway, I needn’t worry about the seeds clouding it up and making little dirty looking flecks in the finished product.

Use yellow onions, and leave the skins on–wash them well in cold water first, of course, and cut off the root ends. But leave the skins on, for they give chicken stock that golden delicious color that it has. Do not be fooled by yellow-skinned hens–Tyson’s feeds their chickens calendula petals to color their skin and feet naturally yellow. (The things you find out in culinary school are amazing–and most of the good stuff comes as asides from the chefs and professors, like this bit about Tyson, chicken skin and flowers.) Otherwise, these parts would be pink or white. The calendula, also known as pot marigold, have a natural dye in them that colors the birds skins, and gives them appearance of being rich and fatty (chicken fat is naturally yellow.) They aren’t. Yellow skinned birds are no better than white skinned or the rare black skinned birds. They just are wearing cosmetics is all.

The fat of a chicken will color the stock gold, but yellow onion skins are a traditional addition to make the stock even more pretty. It does no harm, and in fact, makes the stock as pretty as you see in the first photograph of this post, so please, go ahead and leave the skins on.

If one uses leeks, as I did, one must cut them lengthwise in half, and cut them crosswise in half, and then separate out all of the layered bits of their flesh and soak them in a sink full of cold water, swishing them around to get all of the dirt and grit out. Lift them from the water, drain the sink, and repeat this process at least three times, always lifting the leek bits from the water, to allow the grit to fall to the bottom of the sink and go down the drain.

Parsnips add extra sweetness to the stock, which is why they are not classically used, unless one is making a specific soup from the stock, or one is making a regional variant on plain chicken stock. Treat them just like carrots, giving them a scrub, and throwing them in whole, or in halves.

The herbs one uses are thus: rosemary, bay leaf, thyme, parsley and sometimes sage. One usually ties them up in a bag of cheesecloth, along with about a teaspoon of whole peppercorns, before lowering them into the pot. This keeps herb bits from floating away and clouding up the stock, but if you take the time to strain your stock after it is cooked, one need not worry about tying up ones herbs in the first place. I prefer using fresh herbs, but dried ones will do.

I add salt right away to the stock, because it helps dissolve the flavoring elements into the liquid, and because I believe in seasoning from the beginning of a recipe. But, I add it with a judicious hand, knowing that the stock will simmer uncovered for a very long time and the flavors will concentrate as the liquid reduces, so I am careful not to just pour handsful of salt over the bones and chicken carcasses.

I also add a judicious amount of dry white wine at the beginning, pouring it over the bones. For this stock-making day, I used a full bottle of dry Riesling, split between the two pots.

After all of that is in the pot, one adds water.

Cold water.

Always start your stock with cold water, for several reasons.

One, it is more efficient to dissolve the gelatin in bones gradually with cold water slowly brought to a simmer. This extracts the full amount of the gelatin, whereas starting with hot tap water does not. Two, it results in a clearer stock, because heating the bones and flesh up gradually results in less of a release of fats, blood and other impurities (more about this later) into the liquid.Three, you are less likely to end up overheating your stock to a rolling boil, which you -must not- do, because it results in a cloudy stock that will never clear up, because all of the impurities get roiled around in the liquid and will refuse to float to the surface where they can submit to being skimmed and discarded.

Skimming the Scum

There is Morganna, diligently skimming the accumulated scum that floats to the top of the slowly warming stockpot as blood and other impurities are driven from the bones and flesh of the birds by the gradually heated water. This is a most important step. If you let all that nasty-looking scum stay in your stock, you will end up with a disreputable-looking pot of dirty dishwater that smells and tastes bitter. If you let your stock boil at this time (watch the fire and the stockpot like a hawk, and keep turning the flame down as the pot heats until it is on as low as it will go and keep the pot gently bubbling), you will end up with stock that is inedible and gross. Why bother with that? No one wants to eat or drink dishwater, so when the foamy scum slides to the top of the pot, skim it off, and pour it down the sink. Not even cats or dogs much like this stuff–it really is icky.

I remember being in stocks and sauces class–the first class of culinary school, and hearing Chef Aukstolis, a great bear of a man, bellowing, as he marched past the row of cauldron-like steam kettles (one could cook a person in them, they were so large), “Skim the scum! Skim the scum, or your stock will suck.” He would pause and then say, “And say it with me!”

And we would all join in the chorus of his mantra, no matter where we were or what we were doing. We would recite with him, “If your stock sucks, your sauce will suck!”

Truer words were never bellowed.

So there you are. Skim that scum, often and well, in the early part of stockmaking.

You will likely have to do this three or four times after the stockpot comes to a good bubbly simmer. After that, the nastiness will have been purged from the bones, and you can relax, leave the top off the pot and just watch that it doesn’t boil.

At this point in the stock-making one can sit back, and just let the fire, the water and the bones do their magic. Let them simmer. Keep an eye out that they do not boil, and if a stray bit of scumminess floats to the top, skim it off and toss it out, but for the next oh, six to twelve hours or so–depending on how long you want to stay in the house and go back and forth and watch the stockpot, you can just let it go on its merry way while you enjoy the rich aromas that will begin to pour forth from the pot and scent your home with the savory, comforting fragrance of Grandma’s best chicken soup.

Finishing the Stock: Picking Meat and Straining

We are in the home stretch now.

We are also at the part of our tale where The Bad Guy arrives. I shouldn’t say arrives–Ozy was in the kitchen the entire time the stockpots bubbled, drawn by the irresistable smell of cooking chicken. However, he did become most active during this stage of the stock-making process. Ozy is our oldest cat and to say that he is pushy is an understatement. When it comes to chicken, he is a master of putting himself right in the line of fire, just on the off chance he might trip up an unwary cook and they might drop a tidbit or two on the floor, where he pounces upon it and gobbles it up with a speed that belies his age and infirmity.

He is a right bastard about it, a bandit of the old school, and is as wily as a certain cartoon coyote, but is much more successful at getting dinner than his celluloid brother.

Needless to say, the operations I am going to describe to you go more smoothly if you do not have an irritating cat (or dog) underfoot.

When you have determined that your stock tastes as strong as you want it, or you are ready to go to bed, whichever comes first, it is time to strain the stock, pick the meat from the bones (if you want to) and discard the leavings, which are, at this point, a hideous mess of ugliness.

I cooked this batch of stock for close to twelve hours, and ended up with a very rich result.

To strain the stock, line a fine chinoise or mesh strainer with two to four layers of cheesecloth as shown in the photograph above, and set it over a clean pot that will fit into your refrigerator. I am lucky in that I had a completely empty fridge in which to put all twenty four quarts of stock I made on Saturday–if you are not so fortunate, make smaller amounts of stock! Then, ladle out the stock from the cooking pot into the holding pot. Do not try to pour from one to the other–you are likely to make a mess that way.

As you get down into the bones and mess of vegetables and possibly your whole chicken carcass, and you cannot easily ladle out the stock, use tongs to lift out the solid leavings,set them aside on a plate, and if you want, pick out the meat from the bones. (Of course, I did this, and saved the meat. I have since used the very flavorful flesh (and stock) in chicken and noodles and jambalaya, and plan to make chicken pot pie with it later this week.)

You can lay these bones and vegetables onto layers of cheesecloth, and when they are cool enough to handle, you can wrap them in the cheesecloth, hold them over your strainer, and squeeze out any remaining liquid, in order to extract every bit of goodness left in the ugly leavings. After that, I always triple bag them and throw them away or bury them in a compost heap, because chicken bones are very dangerous to feed to dogs. As much as my pooches would love them, they shatter into needle-sharp shards easily and could puncture their esophogi and that is never a good thing.

At this point, you simply cover the strained stock with a lid, chill it down in a sink of ice water and then put it in the fridge, and allow it to cool and congeal overnight.

In the morning, when you check on it, you will see solidified fat floating in a layer over the top of gelatinized golden stock.

It is simple to use an ordinary spoon to skim off as much fat as you like from the surface of the stock, and then stir in what is left. I like to leave a good bit of fat in the stock, because it adds a great amount of flavor. But, you don’t want to leave all of it, because it will make your stock have a greasy mouthfeel that will also make your soups, sauces and gravies suck. (Remember, if your stock sucks, your sauce will suck. Say it with me.)

At this point, all that is left is for you to ladle the cold stock into containers, label them, and stick them in the freezer. I like to freeze it in one quart containers. Remember to leave headroom, as liquids expand when they freeze.

It is also a simple trick to freeze some into ice cube trays, then pop them out into ziplock bags afterwards in order to use these two tablespoon amounts in small batches of pan sauces, or in stir-fries where a tiny amount of broth or stock are called for.

There we are–the making of stock in all of its good, bad and ugly glory. It is not hard to do, nor does it require much culinary finesse. It only requires time, patience and attention to detail, but the results are very much worth the effort. The flavor of homemade stock will ehance your cooking much more than the use of commerial broths, and the results are very healthful and satsifying.

This, of course, is the typical French method of stock-making. Look for a post soon on the making of Chinese-style chicken stock: I have one more whole chicken in the freezer, along with some pork neckbones, so I want to make a goodly batch of it to have on hand, too. The methods are similar, but different enough to warrant a completely different post.

With that, I bid you good day, and good cooking!


RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. Good one!
    All I could think of was “Tampopo” and the stock making thing with the whole pigs head. She left the veggies in big chunks too.
    He he he, but no noodle shops for you for a while.

    Comment by Bryian — September 5, 2006 #

  2. Brilliant! I feel empowered ๐Ÿ™‚
    From previous help offered by you and other people in the comments of a previous post, I think I need to wait until I can get a heat diffuser for my cooker as even the “simmer” ring is too hot and causes stuff to boil not simmer.

    I learned to cook on a solid fuel Aga and have never really come to terms with crappy gas cookers .
    Steph (the one in the UK!)

    Comment by Steph — September 5, 2006 #

  3. I am slightly intimidated by this due to my cruddy apt. electric range and small pot, still, I wish to try it.

    Comment by Garrett — September 5, 2006 #

  4. Nothing makes me happier than having a freezer full of home-made stock! I made some this weekend.

    I generally make 6-10 quarts at a time. I will try adding leeks next time – not a typical thing for me. And I will also cook a bit longer. I generally cook for about 4 hours (from the time it reaches a simmer), but it’s never super-rich. Since I end up using it as a base I don’t mind if it’s a little thin, as long as the flavor is good. But a thicker, richer stock would be a great goal. I’m going to shoot for at least 6 hours next time.

    And the feet – you are so right that they are essential. I started adding them because my grandma told me she always did so. And it makes the stock sooooooo much better.

    Comment by Diane — September 5, 2006 #

  5. That’ll teach me to look at the title and the pictures before reading the text. When I saw the picture of the cat in one picture, and the bone in the next picture, I thought the cat had accidentally met a tragic and untimely end. I’m glad to see it’s just chicken stock. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I can see the need for the chicken feet. One of the things I grew up on (and amazingly, just found a recipe for the exact dish here when searching for the correct spelling) was Markklรƒยถsschen – bone marrow dumplings. Sounds awful to the uninitated, but so flavorful and perfect for the beef broth that goes with it.

    Comment by Columbus Foodie — September 5, 2006 #

  6. Hey,

    MmMmMm, meat jello.

    Meat Jello, friend.


    Comment by Dr. Biggles — September 5, 2006 #

  7. Amazing blog! I’ve looked all over Phoenix for chicken feet to no avail. I think villain has an i in it, but may be wrong.

    I’m renewing my feet search!

    Roger Bourland

    Comment by Roger Bourland — September 5, 2006 #

  8. Tyson does the marigold petal bit, but Frank Perdue originated it, according to my grandfather, who sold him hatching eggs many years ago. (I used to have some old handwritten receipts from grandpop to Frank.)

    I have learnt that I had done just about everything wrong in making chicken stock, all at once, which explains why I made such a nasty foulness. Your clear explanation inspires me to try again, mayhap to produce golden broth and not dirty dishwater this time.

    Thank you, Barbara.

    Comment by Dan Jenkins — September 5, 2006 #

  9. For the person in Phoenix looking for chicken feet: I don’t live there, but I’ve always been able to find them in larger asian food markets, and also (sometimes) latino markets. Really, anywhere that’s the “ethnic” part of town. But best and easiest in the asian part. They are usually *really* cheap too — like $1 for 2 lbs.

    Good luck.


    Comment by n. — September 5, 2006 #

  10. Hi Barbara! I have been reading your site for a good while now, but this is the first time I’ve been called to comment. Thank you so much for such a wonderful and informative post. I am an adventurous beginner-ish cook, and I’ve been thinking about stocks for a while now. This post will be such a great tool for me when I finally embark on this quest. Your blog is great–it always makes me think, and the pictures and recipes are wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing your world with us!

    Laura Beth

    Comment by laura beth — September 5, 2006 #

  11. Excellent post, Barbara!
    Any quick advice for vegetarians? We want stock, too!

    Comment by Hadar — September 5, 2006 #

  12. Barbara –

    Amen sister! I remember being able to buy chicken backs and neck in the meat case when I was younger. Lord know – people don’t want to see the nasty bits any more…

    Columbus Foodie –

    You gotta tell us more about bone marrow dumplings. I have never heard of such a thing – but am extremely interrested.

    Comment by Rosie — September 6, 2006 #

  13. Excellent post. Even with the slightly disturbing appearance of guillotined chicken feet!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Comment by veuveclicquot — September 6, 2006 #

  14. Rosie –
    Finding that recipe has inspired me to make a batch this weekend, *if* (big if – I’m going to cross my fingers and hope either Schumann’s or Carfagna’s has the soup bones with the marrow I need). Or if I can hunt down another local butcher shop that carries stuff you can’t find at Kroger or Giant Eagle.

    They’re very hard to describe, actually. Kind of like mini matzoh balls, but with much more flavor.

    Comment by Columbus Foodie — September 6, 2006 #

  15. Love the Leone routine! ๐Ÿ™‚

    yeah…stock’s an ugly business…but, you know, the
    prima materia at the end…pure alchemy

    Comment by Christopher Gordon — September 6, 2006 #

  16. Good tip about leaving the skin on the onions–I’ll have to try that next time.

    Comment by lucette — September 6, 2006 #

  17. Columbus Foodie –

    Lisa over at Restaurant Widow recommended trying the North Market. You may be able to pre-order some. I have had good luck finding marrow bones at Meijer’s of all places. Some of the stores carry a lot of unusual meats – depending on their demographics.

    Comment by Rosie — September 7, 2006 #

  18. Barbara–I tagged you for the 5 things to eat before you die meme–if you’re not too busy.

    Comment by lucette — September 7, 2006 #

  19. YUM! I have some chicken stock in the freezer right now, and you’ve inspired me to make… something with it tonight. Don’t know what yet, but it’ll definitely be brothy.

    I make mine almost exactly like yours, although I wasn’t familiar with using feet until I met my husband. They (along with backs) really do make the best stock, and they’re SO cheap.

    The only things I do differently:
    * I don’t add vegetables or herbs/spices. I don’t know what I’m going to use the stock for, so I leave it bland until I spice it up for a recipe. (I also make vegetable broth at home, though, so I can always mix the two.)
    * I cook my stock WAY down before freezing. I have a tiny freezer. Then I just dilute the stock when I’m ready to use. Maybe not ideal, but a little bit goes a long way.
    * If the freezer’s jammed full of bones and/or stuff for veggie broth, and I don’t have a whole day at home to devote to stock-making, I do it in the crock pot. Works beautifully.
    * I rarely use new vegetables to make broth. I collect vegetable scraps in a freezer bag – potato and carrot peels, tops of tomatoes, garlic and onion paper, green bean and mushroom ends, etc., and use that to make my broth.

    Comment by Bomboniera — September 7, 2006 #

  20. I did have a big reply here that hit everyone individually, but the Internet Fairy stumbled just as I was posting it and the evil Net Gnomes in my computer ate it.

    So, rather than recreate it, I just want to thank everyone for commenting–I had a great deal of fun writing and creating the post, just as I had fun making the stock–as I always do. Though, it was more fun with Morganna helping, since she had a good time being morbidly humorous with the chicken feet. (Making them dance, walk, fly through the air….)

    I will still answer a few points individually, however:

    Heat diffusers and flame tamers are your friend in stock making, if you do not trust your stove to go onto “granny low” and stay there. For all that mine pumps out the BTU’s on some burners, I also have some lower powered burners that were perfect for settling the huge stockpots over and going to town.

    Also, even if you have a very small eight quart stockpot, you can make stock. You just cannot collect chicken bones for a year and then make it like I did. Just scale it all back….

    Long, slow cooking is the way to intensely flavored stock. I am all about cooking longer than six hours, no matter what amount of stock I am cooking. Six hours is good–eight to twelve is better. In culinary school, we would keep steam kettles going for up to twenty-four to forty eight hours, and the stock was superb. Obviously, without a steam kettle at home, which is a self-contained unit with the fire regulated and internal where cats and wandering gremlins cannot get to it, you cannot do the twenty-four hour stock. But, even at home–the longer you cook, the better the stock.

    Laura Beth–since this is your first comment, I wanted to step up and thank you personally, and welcome you. It makes my heart sing to hear from readers like yourself–and I am very, very glad that my writing has been inspirational to you in the kitchen. If you ever have questions or thoughts, please comment or email and I will be glad to answer you.

    Chicken feet–where to get them–as others have said–go to the ethnic markets, young man. Asian markets, in particular, always carry them, and they are almost always super cheap. You can get backs there, too and necks. If you ever feel the need to make duck stock–the same principles apply–use feet and necks and backs if you can. That is where the bird’s flavor resides.

    Columbus Foodie–go to the North Market to Blues Creek Farms Meats. Tell them Barbara from Athens sent you, and ask them for good beef marrow bones. If they do not have them right that day, they will get them for you, and I doubt they will charge you much. Thier meats are all raised on pasture, with no hormones or antibiotics and the flavor is outstanding. If I was going to make beef stock, I would get my bones from them–that is where I get most of the pork, beef, lamb and goat we eat here at home.

    As for the Leone routine–that comes from having movie geeks in the kitchen while straining the stock!

    And yeah–meat jello not crossing, brother. Meat jello one, not Herbert.

    Bomboniera–reducing stock into a concentrate is done in classical French cookery as well. The process is used to make what is called “demi glace,” which translates to “half-glaze.” Demi glace can be made from any stock, but it is most often made of veal or beef. It is used as a foundation sauce on its own, to glaze roasted meats, or to flavor other sauces, broths and the like.

    So, no worries about what you are doing!

    I would save veg trimmings for stock, but I draw the line there when it comes to freezer space! Morganna tells me we need a deep freeze in the basement–but I am avoiding it as long as possible because once I do that, I know that I start freezing and canning like a fiend in the summer, and the world will never, ever be the same….

    Hadar–vegetable stock. Here is the quick and dirty: it is much easier than chicken stock.

    Start with onions, leeks, celery, parsnips, carrots and some garlic and herbs. Wash them well, as described in my post, and put them in a stock pot. (The truth is, you can put all sorts of vegetables into veggi stock, but I will caution you–cabbage will give it a very strong, distinctive flavor, and bitter greens will make it very bitter. Beets are good, but they may sweeten it too much, and if you aren’t careful and cook out the anthocyanins, you will end up with purple stock.) I also add a bit of tomatoes or tomato product, early on to give the stock color and richness. You can use sundried tomatoes–they are rich in glutimates (see below) or tomato paste, in addition to fresh tomatoes.

    Then, go gathering dried mushrooms. What you want in your vegetable stock is a component that gives the flavor of umami–which is the primary flavor that chicken stock has. It is a meaty, satisfying dark flavor that makes everything cooked in it taste better. It is essentially the flavor of proteins and glutimates.

    Mushrooms are a natural source of glutimate in high quantities, with dried and wild mushrooms being higher in concentration of glutimates than commercially grown domesticated mushrooms.

    So–get some dried shiitake mushrooms (Chinese black mushrooms) and some porcinis and whatever other dried mushrooms you can afford. Chanterelles are particularly nice. Rinse them off, and rehydrate them in warm water.

    When they are softened, chop them up into bits, and put into the stockpot with the veggies, along with most of the soaking water–you want to leave the dregs because any grit or dirt you didn’t manage to rinse off is in there. You don’t want that in your stock.

    Add white wine to the stock.

    Then cover everything with water, and bring to a simmer. Cook for at least six to eight hours, though you will not need to skim. Let the stock reduce a bit to strengthen the flavor.

    Strain and freeze, just as I did for the chicken stock. There is no fat to worry about. You can concentrate this down to a thick syrup, though in French this is not considered demi-glace, but you can still reduce it down until it is quite concentrated and freeze that so you use less freezer space. Then you can dilute it in whatever way you like when you use it.

    I hope that helps!

    Comment by Barbara — September 7, 2006 #

  21. Oh, and lucette–thanks for tagging me–now I know what I will write about tomorrow!

    Comment by Barbara — September 7, 2006 #

  22. Thanks, Barbara!

    Comment by Hadar — September 8, 2006 #

  23. “I would save veg trimmings for stock, but I draw the line there when it comes to freezer space!”

    I can dig that. I’ve got a *teensy* fridge. So I take the freezer bag of veggie scraps out, and put back containers of stock. At the end of the day, both take up the same amount of space.

    Comment by Bomboniera — September 8, 2006 #

  24. Barbara-
    I went to Blues Creek Farms Meats like you suggested and they had exactly what I was looking for, at quite a low price. I’m looking forward to making the soup this weekend! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you.

    Comment by Columbus Foodie — September 9, 2006 #

  25. This is a great post. I’ve always made stock by basically using a variant of my Mom’s chicken soup recipe, except for adding in garlic, and also, she never stored carcasses in her freezer the way I do.

    The main changes I made in my most recent batch after reading your post was being extra careful not to let it boil, and adding the chicken feet (which I found very easily for about $1/pound in Chinatown).

    It gelled, and was gorgeous, and I think I will make it this way from now on.

    Comment by Danielle — September 12, 2006 #

  26. thanks alot, i think :S you helped me with my homework for catering i look forward to making a stock of my own but not with that repulsice animal bones in it. email me bak

    Comment by sally — September 15, 2006 #

  27. I found your website with My question was, why does my stock turn into gel? I had a feeling it was good, but not sure. Although I haven’t used chicken feet, I will be looking for them in the future.
    Thank you for such a great blog on the making of chick stock.

    Comment by Debra — September 21, 2006 #

  28. Debra, it turns into a gel because it has gelatin in it! Gelatin is a substance that comes from connective tissue, bones and cartilage, and is what makes stock thick and have body.

    It is definately a good thing!

    It is not just present in chicken feet, though because of the morphology of the feet, they have a lot of the gelatin in them….

    Comment by Barbara — September 21, 2006 #

  29. This is the first site I visited when I started my search on how to make stock. Wow! What a great way you have with your writing! Thankyou very much for posting. I now have my chicken stock simmering away.

    Comment by Em Poole — September 25, 2006 #

  30. […] Barbara put together a detailed, illustrated, and utterly thorough explanation of how to make chicken stock. This knowledge is more precious than rubies. Chicken feet are also more precious than rubies. […]

    Pingback by Habeas Brulee » Blog Archive » Roundup of Food Blog Posts I’ve Enjoyed #5 — October 7, 2006 #

  31. Pretty much the way I make stock too, but these tips may help…

    For smaller amounts of stock, I use my crock pot set on low, covered. Fill about 2/3 with your chicken and veggies (put the veggies on the bottom) and add cold water to cover by about 1 inch. Besides salt, try adding 2 tsp white vinegar per quart of cold water (don’t use any other kind of vinegar!) – this helps calcium and other minerals dissolve from bones into your stock. Cover, set on low and simmer 8-12 hours. No scum to skim since the slow heating and lazy boil don’t produce it. I usually do this in the evening and let it cook overnight.

    Comment by Nickii — October 20, 2006 #

  32. Thank you for this wonderful yteatise on stock making. I am making some now, but learned a few new things from your post.

    I do have one warning comment: It is NOT wise to put meat or bones in a compost pile (even if they have been used for making stock), because it can promote maggots in the compost. I recommend freezing the bones until they can be discarded on the next trash pick up day.

    Comment by Andrea — November 24, 2006 #

  33. Wheeeel!
    This is the first blog I have seen that is spicy, well written, and embraces the way I feel about cooking, AND has kitties looking for food in it! I want to join in, but have never been a member of a blog! Can you add me to the mailing list or let me know how it all works with blogs? Love what I have read so far and I am making chicken stock right now. I can’t wait to track down some chicken feet!
    Am I on the mailing list now… or how do I proceed?

    Comment by lynn — December 9, 2006 #

  34. Welcome, Lynn–

    Barbara is away with her newborn daughter. So, the blog activity is slow right now. Hopefully, she’ll be back real soon.

    Basically, you can visit the blog to read new stories. Or, if you have a RSS reader (for example, Thunderbird), you can subscribe to the Entries and/or Comments. They are links on the right side of the page. You don’t get emails from the blog, as far as I know.

    Barbara is a wonderful writer and cook, and I do look forward to her return. I believe you’ll enjoy her writings.

    I’m just an avid reader, who figures I might be able to help out a new reader.

    Welcome and hope to see you hear again.

    Comment by Dan Jenkins — December 15, 2006 #

  35. This post is being discussed on food_porn right now, so there may be an influx of new comments.

    A few observations:

    1) I haven’t yet made stock with feet–just backs and necks–but my stock always gels pretty significantly anyway. Backs and necks do make lovely stock.

    2) Backs and necks are available from the meat counter at Whole Foods (and probably Wild Oats or any other natural food store meat counter), although sometimes one has to request them a few days in advance. They’re about $1/lb.

    3) I’d never heard the admonishment to skim the scum off–in my family we always just strained at the end (although we do very basic, just chicken bones and water stock that’s simmered only a few hours), and it’s never made the stock taste bad. Am I missing something? I’m sure 12-hour French stock is delicious, but I like basic, unflavored stock.

    Comment by Mel — December 22, 2006 #

  36. If you cook a whole chicken for 12 hours doesn’t that make the chicken meat incredibly soggy and over cooked? Which i would think would taste terrible?

    btw lovely article i just have to wonder where to get bones here in wichita ks you would think no problem but NOT the case went looking for soup bones the stores look at you like you are crazy in the head to want BONES. After all they don’t even come to the store anymore they are left at the processors? no idea where they are but in the stores they ain’t. Or the meat.

    Ruth Anne

    Comment by Ruth Anne — December 29, 2006 #

  37. Dan–thank you so much for answering Lynn’s question–you said exactly what I would have said.

    Mel–the admonishment to skim comes from both the French and Chinese methodology of making stock. The stuff that comes to the top is generally dead blood cells from the bones and is considered by those who laid down the foundations of both cuisines to be impure, and to impart a bitter flavor.

    I have never -not- skimmed that stuff off, so I don’t know if that is true or not, but I don’t really want to find out by not skimming close to twenty gallons of stock and then finding out it has an off taste. That would make me CRY!

    Ruth Anne–

    The chicken is not over cooked if you have a stewing chicken and it has simply simmered for that long. It is quite moist, and tastes like the stock. If it has boiled for twelve hours–yeah, that would be soggy and over-cooked.

    But stewing chickens take a long time to cook and get tender. If you tried that with a young fryer or broiler chicken, you would have ick meat with no flavor at the end of the cooking time!

    As for bones in grocery stores–few stores these days have real butcher departments–the meat already comes cut up and packaged. It is cheaper for them–they don’t have to pay skilled meat cutters for the meat department that way.

    So, what I would do is look for chickens from the farmer’s markets near you, and buy the bones from the farmer. Or, buy bone in chickens, or whole chickens and take the bones out yourself–I can always do a post on how to cut apart a chicken sometime so you can see how to do it.

    I tend to get bone in chicken, bone it myself and then throw the bones in the freezer until I accumulate enough to proceed to stock-making.

    Feet are nice, but not necessary, but necks and backs are really great for stock.

    Comment by Barbara — January 6, 2007 #

  38. Hello everybody. Sounds like a happy family here. I’ve never posted to a blog but after reading every word I just had to say something.
    Barabara, thank you so much for your fun lessons, and congrats on your new baby… love her name!
    I am roasting a pork shoulder and I’m out of canned broth but while rooting around in my fridge I found some turkey stock I made after Thanksgiving… the fat was still intact on top, no odor and the stock was nicely jelly-ish but I still wasn’t sure if I could use it after that many weeks so I dumped it and will have to use granules. But meanwhile, I Googled “chicken stock”, found your lesson and got caught up in it. Learned a few things and now I can’t wait to start saving my bones, buying more chicken, talking my husband into using the garage sale proceeds to get a deep freezer for the garage and make lots of stock!!!
    I will be back for more “lessons” in the future. Thanks again!

    Comment by Cat Patton — January 6, 2007 #

  39. Thank you, Barbara, for some very useful information. I’m interested in trying your demi glaze for use in various recipes. Do you have a seoarate recipe, or is it simply a matter of cooking the broth longer? Also wondering if you have a good beef stock recipe?

    I’ve been making a very decent chicken soup for years, using a whole chicken, onion, carrots and celery and cooking it for only about 3 hours, then straining and discarding the vegetables, chicken bones and skin, then add new vegetables and only the nice meat from the breasts and legs just before serving. I also remove the fat after chilling and use only the clear gelatinous broth in my final soup.

    Problem with my soup recipe is that it’s so expensive to use a whole chicken and if I were to cook the broth longer to make an even more flavourful broth, I would want to discard all of the meat. Barbara’s method using backs, necks etc makes sense. In the future I will buy chicken with the bone in for my normal chicken recipes, save the bones in the freezer until I have enough to make a big pot of broth. My husband likes chicken pieces in his soup, so maybe I could add some “good” chicken when it’s time to make the soup.

    I have a few questions: how long do you think it’s safe to keep frozen chicken broth? What do you think about using chicken wings? I never cook them as they have too much fat, but I think they are fairly cheap and readily available…

    Wouldn’t home made frozen demi glaze be the perfect gift to give people who have everything, but like to cook!

    I look forward to reading more!

    Comment by kristina — January 8, 2007 #

  40. Wow!

    All I can say is GREAT JOB! This is the best description on how to make chicken stock I have ever seen. I have been reasearching how to do this for quite some time now but was reticent to go forth. Until now.

    I am going to do this tomorrow. Only thing I have not found are the feet. At first I had a hard time with this concept but I have gotten over that.

    You have done a great job. Thank You!

    Comment by Steven — January 12, 2007 #

  41. Cat–you probably could have used the turkey stock if you took up all the fat and boiled it well before using it, but I think that throwing it out was the better part of valor. I am sad to say it, but it is true–when in doubt–throw it out! (I hate to throw anything away. You can tell that both of my grandmas survived the Depression and two WW’s and one was a farmer! Frugality got instilled into my psyche early on!)

    You are welcome–I hope to see you around again!

    Demi glace is most easily made by not adding salt to a stock as you make it, and then after it is defatted, simmering it slowly to reduce it to a thick syrup.

    Then, after it is reduced, a bit of salt is added for flavor and to preserve it.

    As for a beef stock recipe–you do it the same basic way as for chicken stock, except that you use beef bones. Leg bones are great, tails are great, too, but if all you have are steak bones and ribs, use those. Crack them open to allow the marrow to escape, then roast them in the oven until they are brown and fragrant, then simmer them with the same aromatics (except you add a bit of tomato paste, too, for flavor and color.)

    The roasting brings out a beefier flavor and color, btw–that is the purpose of it. You can do the same with the vegetables and with chicken bones for a richer stock.

    Then you do it like the chicken stock, simmer, starting in cold water, and skim frequently.

    I don’t often make beef stock, because I do not like the smell that the bones exude at first. It is a very strong, very bloody aroma that seems to get into a house and stay in it. I will make chicken stock in the fall and winter, but I don’t like to do beef stock except when I can have all the windows open to get that smell out of the house! (After the first hour or so, the smell becomes pleasant, but at first–ick.)

    Some authorities say to keep chicken stock for only three months in the freezer, but I have done it for six with no problem.

    And yes, Kristin, you can use chicken wings!

    Steven–I am glad you liked the post, and I am very pleased to see that it has given you the courage to step up and make your own stock. You are very welcome.

    And you don’t -have- to have feet for good stock–they just happen to make a good stock and are often cheap or free.

    Let me know how your stock turns out!

    Comment by Barbara — January 12, 2007 #

  42. Barbara. Last night was my first try at chicken stock making. I skimmed as best I could, kept the heat low, and tasted as I went. So far so good. I placed the stock in the refrigerator to cool and this morning I went to skim off the fat thinking that I would have a small layer of fat resting on a liquid base. I found very little fat and a bowl of chicken gelatin. Is this correct? Did I miss something?

    Comment by Joe — January 15, 2007 #

  43. Lovely recipe! I came across it while looking for some use for the bones of yesterday’s roast chicken lunch. They’re going into the freezer now for future soupmaking. I’m lucky enough to live in Cambodia, where bones, feet, skins and organs a’plenty of every food animal are sold openly at the supermarket. Unfortunately, our apartment has a gas cylinder hookup for our stove, so my roomie would probably have a fit if she saw me simmering for 10 hours and ‘wasting’ the gas!
    I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the blog now; I really enjoy reading the perspective of someone who has actually studied all this stuff!

    Comment by Maria P. — January 18, 2007 #

  44. Joe–your stock is fine! The gelatin texture comes from the collagen in the bones and connective tissues. That is how good stock is supposed to be–solid when chilled! You did it right.

    The amount of fat that you have to pull off later depends on how much fat was in your chickens to start out with. If you used younger chickens, there will be little fat. If you did not use much skin, there will be less fat. I would leave what fat you have in your stock for flavor since it is so very little.

    Congrats on your first stock making enterprise going so well!

    Comment by Barbara — January 18, 2007 #

  45. Maria–I am glad you came across this recipe and liked it so much.

    Yes, cooking for ten hours on that sort of gas hookup could cause a domestic dispute–but the results will be very worth it. And think of all the money you will save by not wasting bones, feet, backs, necks and the like!

    Comment by Barbara — January 18, 2007 #

  46. Like a few of the visitors here, I found this blog via a Google search while embarking on my first stock-making endeavor. I only had a small rotissiere chicken carcass that we’d had left over from supper, and I wanted to try it. While it was simmering, I found the blog. I made a few amateur mistakes – my water was not cold, and I did not have to skim that I could tell. I am used to the scum, from boiling chicken, but there just wasn’t any! I had all kinds of pieces in there, too – skin, back, wings and meat tidbits still attached. I only simmered for about four hours, and the broth was cloudy when I strained it, but I really thought it tasted good! I will see how it looks in the morning and whether or not it has the right consistency after being refrigerated. It sure didn’t make very much! Not quite a quart. But, I am very excited to set to work on the turkey carcass and drippings I stored in the freezer from Christmas! I think I may need to invest in a larger pot.

    Thanks so much for an entertaining and informative post! I can’t wait to follow your recipe!

    Comment by Angela — January 20, 2007 #

  47. Barbara,

    That was a great write up on stock. It was just what I needed as I was in my second hour of making stock on my own. I just added the ginger!

    Thanks again,

    Mike Norris

    Comment by MIke Norris — January 21, 2007 #

  48. I enjoyed reading about your stock-making adventure – I had my own a few days ago. I used four chicken backs, an onion, couple carrots, few garlic cloves, and the bottom of a celery clump. Oh, and half a dozen peppercorns.
    I started out with the frozen meat in cold water with a splash of apple cider vinegar and let it sit for a while. Then put it on stove on high and let it just get to a boil, skimming off all the junk. Turned it down to simmer and added all the veggies and a little extra water. Went to bed.
    Someone turned it down in the morning before I got up, so turned it back up and let it simmer more. It was on the stove 12-16 hours. Then, took out all the meat, dumped it through a colander to get all the veggies out, put it back in the pot and out in a snowbank to cool. Later moved it to fridge and now there’s fat on top which I haven’t skimmed yet.
    My question is, do you know of anything that can be done with the fat from the top of the stock? I think there’s a lot since I left the skin on. Can I render it and make it into a suet cake for the birds?
    I thought the stock itself came out well, nice and golden yellow and flavorful. Not perfectly clear, but it tasted lovely. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Comment by Leela — January 23, 2007 #

  49. Leela,

    My mother mixes flour in with a tiny amount of the skimmed fat on the stove and adds the stock, stirring briskly. Then oodles of white wine for a lovely thick chicken gravy.

    P.S. You rock Barbara, this is perfect! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Comment by Tempest — January 25, 2007 #

  50. I just wanted a way not to waste chicken bones, and found you on Google. Thank you for my stock making epiphany. Now I know what I was doing wrong. I didn’t understand what “scum” was but finally figured it’s that sudsy-looking stuff floating on top. This time I’ve taken care to remove it. Later on I’m going to cook my brown rice in the stock, instead of in water. Ummmmmm!

    Comment by Scothia — February 1, 2007 #

  51. Hi, just ran across your site. I am beginning to make stock and I have a couple of questions, if you have the time to answer questions! I just don’t know anyone else to ask…

    1. Can you make stock in a crockpot (which needs ot be covered the whole time)?

    2. Should you expect to get the same amount of stock as the amount of water you put in? I realize that some of the water will steam away, but does that make the stock condensed at that point?

    Thanks very much–I love the way you did this page.

    Oh, and you had a baby! Congratulations ๐Ÿ˜€

    Comment by Annie — February 8, 2007 #

  52. I did mine in the huge roaster sized crockpot on low and let it cook for about 18 hours. It came out as a lovely jell-o after chilling.
    As God is my witness, there will never be broth from a can in my kitchen again!

    Comment by Maven — April 12, 2007 #

  53. From another Googler: Thanks for the great information! I have been trying to figure all these things out for quite a while. Now I just have one question, which I’m sure is stupid: Why can you keep stock in the freezer for only 6 months? I thought frozen stuff would keep almost forever if properly sealed!

    Comment by Jane — June 4, 2007 #

  54. I am on a low salt diet and trying to find chicken stock/broth without salt is insane! I’d like to make it myself and loved your “recipe.” But I do have a question… Since I am on a low salt diet, is it okay to leave out the salt when you make the stock? Does it affect the process of making the stock (other than having it lack the salt flavor)? I saw a comment about leaving the salt out to make a demi-glace then adding it at the end to flavor and preserve it, but wanted to be sure that would be okay to make the stock. Thanks so much. GREAT BLOG!! I have greatly enjoyed reading it! – Jean

    Comment by Jean — June 4, 2007 #

  55. Jane–it will keep pretty well indefinitely, but the flavor suffers past about eight months. It gets–well, unless it is perfectly sealed, it can get a “freezer” taste to it.

    But I have saved it past eight months and it doesn’t produce health problems or anything like that.

    Jean–you do not need to use salt except for flavor. So please, go ahead and make your own salt-free stock. It will taste far superior to the canned salt free broths you can buy.

    Annie–yes, it can be made in a crockpot. And you can get about the same amount of stock as you use water by doing the crockpot method.

    As for chicken fat–you can use it to cook with, or giving it to the birds is always nice. I tend to freeze the fat from my stocks and use it for cooking. But, in the deep winter, I do share with the birds, too.

    Comment by Barbara — June 7, 2007 #

  56. Woo-hoo! So I just made the best looking stock ever from the info. above for the first time and it turned out great! I used a crockpot since I have few pots as big as my big oval crockpot, and I couldn’t locate feet, necks or backs in town, so I used wings and leg quarters, and it turned out very nice! I am so excited over this… I want to make stock out of everything! Thanks for the great blog and photos! They really help.

    Comment by Desiree — June 27, 2007 #

  57. […] Walnut oil 1 lb. chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces A generous splash of Shaoxing rice wine 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped 2-3 small shallots, coarsely chopped 1/4 tsp ground turmeric 1 1/3 C chicken stock (ideally homemade, or as close to salt-free as you can find it in the store) 1 C ground walnuts 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 1/2 tsp sugar 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 1/8 tsp ground cardamom Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste […]

    Pingback by Habeas Brulee » Blog Archive » Walnut Chicken — July 25, 2007 #

  58. Ok, I’ve now had success making three kinds of stocks: beef, chicken, and pork. But I’d like to try my hand at seafood and vegetable stock. What I’m wondering is do you cook these stocks for as long? These stocks seem more delicate so I’m not sure. Most recipes on the web or in books suggest an hour and a half tops? Further does anyone know if it’s ok to use clam/mussel shells in seafood stock? I’ve read fish bones and scraps (non-oily) and lobster, crab and shrimp shells, but nothing on clams/mussels.

    Comment by Desiree — August 16, 2007 #

  59. Neither clam nor mussel shells will do anything for the fish stock–they are just calcium and silica. There is nothing that will give flavor to the broth.

    Yes, you only want to simmer seafood/fish stock (called in French, fume–pronounced foomay) for an hour or two. And when it simmers, you want it to be a bare simmer, with the surface of the liquid lightly shimmering with movement, with tiny bubbles in it. No boiling!

    Vegetable stock can be simmered as long as you like, and you can use any sorts of vegetable scraps you like in it.

    Comment by Barbara — August 17, 2007 #

  60. Thank you so much for your stock tips! I have been making stock from leftover carcasses for years now (nothing like a smoked turkey carcass stock!)

    I have been doing the long-low-boil method (not simmer), and low-boiling for over 12 hours to reduce and concentrate. I have never skimmed, but run the final stock through 3 different levels of mesh sieve (large/med/fine). Yes, my stock has never been clear, but always tasty. HOWEVER…I’m giving your long simmer method a try right now with chicken backs.

    One question…I am interested in your use of chicken feet. I see them all the time at the Piggly Wiggly here in SC, and wondered what the locals used them for (now I know).

    My question (concern)….I’m a physician, and well versed in Infectious Disease, et al. Chicken’s walk around all day in some, how do I say, unscrupulous poop! It can carry a myriad of disease (Crytococcus, Chlamydia, Salmonella, Campylobacter…should I go on?) And non-pressure cooking may not always kill these organisms.

    Is there a special way to clean them (they have nails) that I need to worry about? Were they already cleaned? Any risk, or am I just being a damn doctor?

    Thanks! Jack (Bluffton SC)

    Comment by Jack — October 6, 2007 #

  61. Jack, I understand your concern about chickens and the stuff they walk in. I grew up on a farm, I was a pre-med student at one time and have taken a lot of food safety classes, so I understand your paranoia. The feet are usually cleaned, but I wash and scrub them in really warm water, with a brush as needed.

    If the claws bug you, because they are hard to clean–get thee some poultry shears and snip them right off.

    The other thing that folks in the South will do with chicken feet, believe it or not, is eat them. You heard me. Much like the Chinese dish of soy sauce simmered chicken feet which started as poor folks food, poor folks in the south will make a dish called chicken feet and rice.

    As for the clear stock thing–I have training in both French and Chinese food, so I cannot help but want a clear stock! But, even more than clarity–flavor is important, so if your method works for you, do it!

    Comment by Barbara — October 6, 2007 #

  62. Wow. Thanks for going to all that trouble. I never really new why I should skim the scum off, and sometimes I would, sometimes not. From now on, I believe I will hear a voice bellowing in my head “skim the scum or your stock will suck!”

    Does the trick.

    Comment by Sasha Johnson — November 11, 2007 #

  63. Barbara,

    Thanks for a consummate (consomme? ; ) overview on the fine art of stock-making. As a southern Ohio Cajun cook, I add prodigious amounts of garlic (two whole heads for a large stockpot) and red or chile peppers. This is especially good when using as “Jewish penicillin.” I am making some and am putting put one small turnip and one parsnip in.

    My biggest help from Barbara’s information is not to put the seasonings in until the stock it skimmed (a big D’oh! from me!) It always drove me crazy when that stuff floated to the top while I was cooking. I used a cheesecloth bag this time just because I’m such a maniacal “skimmer.”

    In the Dayton area, chicken feet can be had for $1.99 a pound at the Far East Center at Airway Shopping center (11 pound frozen package) and chicken backs (10 pound frozen package) for 65 cents a pound at Landes Meats in Clayton.

    I have been browning my meat and vegetables in the oven before making my stock for a few years now. Normally, I just deglaze the pan and put it in the stockpot. I got paranoid this time (although I am a committed and almost obsessive-compulsive skimmer) and put the stuff in a jar and put it in the fridge, adding some ice to increase the volume of the non-fat product and speed the process.

    What should I do? I was thinking I would save the fat/schmaltz from the top to further strain and render with what I get when I cool the stockpot contents. As for the non-fat parts, should I heat it till liquid and strain it to add to the stock?

    Martha in Clayton, Ohio

    Comment by Martha — November 16, 2007 #

  64. To further clarify (ha ha) my previous post, is there scum in my deglazed product?

    When I was a little girl (I was born in 1958) my mother would buy chicken backs for 10 cents a pound at Owen’s Market on Cornell Drive in Dayton and fry them up. They were awesome. I may do that myself sometime, but uI used a whole 10-pound bag in my stock (about 5 1/2 pounds of feet) and I have another bag, but they are all frozen together.


    Comment by Martha — November 16, 2007 #

  65. Barbara,
    I wish I would have read this prior to making my stock – some things I would have changed. My problem is I made the stock from turkey backs and necks, with a couple of chicken drumsticks thrown in, and the vegetables. I ended up with the gel that you described, but my fat cap never hardened, just stayed thick and oily on top. I wanted to make schmaltz mania for my gravy since I am brining the bird. What went wrong?

    Comment by Kris — November 18, 2007 #

  66. Kris–the fat never hardened in the fridge?

    How cold is your fridge?

    That makes no sense, because meat fat congeals at temperatures below forty degrees F, pretty much no matter what.

    How very odd.

    Well, if it never hardens in the fridge for you, go out to a kitchen store and plunk down a bit of money for a gravy separator. This device looks like a weird pitcher or measuring cup, and it allows you to pour in some stock or drippings and then pour out the heavier non-fatty liquid, which stays at the bottom, while leaving the fat floating.

    That should work!

    Good luck, and let me know how it turns out.

    Comment by Barbara — November 19, 2007 #

  67. My stock simmered for more than 48 hours and although it was yellow to begin with, it turned brown. It was awesome though. Most of the fat ended up in the jar that’s still in the fridge with the deglazed stuff from the browning process.

    Somehow I lost my turnip and parsnip between Krogers and my kitchen but oh, well.

    I didn’t pick through the stuff for the meat because to me, that’s the ick part. I’ve had a cold and I just couldn’t summon up the energy. The raw parts don’t bother me although I can’t imagine trimming those tiny toenails. They bother me much less cooking than the idea of cutting them. I don’t even enjoy cutting my own toenails!

    I do wish I would have gotten the chicken “oysters” off the backs earlier in the cooking process. That is my favorite part of the chicken aside from the thigh.

    On the gravy separators – the plastic one I had was flimsy and couldn’t take the heat, while the glass one I got from King Arthur flour eventually got broken. It was a pain to store in my cupboard. Fortunately, I always get congealed fat on the top of my chilled product so I really don’t need that myself.

    I read Barbara’s information on the Chinese method of stock making after I started. It seems like there should be a “fusion” technique. Since the ick sticks to the schmaltz at the bottom, what about slicing off and discarding that part and then using the better part on top?

    I read a post on another site about a Jewish technique using the schmaltz to make mashed potatoes. That sounds yummy!

    As we fry our turkey for Thanksgiving, I need to get my gravy fixin’s in different ways. Should I use the deglazed stuff to make gravy? I got a ton of schmaltz with that.


    Comment by Martha — November 19, 2007 #

  68. Aha..stock placed in the fridge door and hungry kids home from school do not work well when trying to chill and get a fat cap. Moved the stock to the back of the fridge and soon had a thick hard fat cap. Thanks!

    Comment by Kris — November 21, 2007 #

  69. Barbara,
    Thanks for the recipe: I’ve struggled with stock before but this seems to have done the trick. We used up my most recent batch of chicken stock this afternoon for turkey and dumpling soup while yesterday’s carcass simmered with a yellow onion on the stove. When I strained it and put it out into the garage to cool tonight (we always refer to it as our walk-in cooler in the winter), it looked lovely. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Comment by Adrienn — November 23, 2007 #

  70. Thanks Again, seafood stock turned out great with you instructions. Have also added turkey stock to the growing list. ๐Ÿ™‚ Could not have done it without you!

    Comment by Desiree — December 19, 2007 #

  71. This site is amazing!!!! Barbara, the amount of culinary knowledge you have is amazing. I am a part time high school student and a part time culinary student. I love your site and all of your blogs. I am going to have to come check out your restaurant some night when I don’t have class or when I’m not working.

    Comment by Bethany — December 20, 2007 #

  72. Desiree–I am very happy to hear how well you have done with your stock making. That is just great! Keep up the good work.

    Hello, Bethany–are you a local Athens person? We’d be glad to have you at Salaam any time, but I usually work Wednesday day shift and both Friday and Saturday nights.

    If you come at any of those times, you can ask for me.

    Comment by Barbara — December 20, 2007 #

  73. Hello … thanks for caring and sharing, Barbara – congrats on your baby!! she must be very healthy! … when I started last night, I was aiming to boil (Indonesian-style … garlic/ginger) the whole chicken that was sitting in my freezer…it tasted scrumptious when a friend here in South Korea made it. Then, I thought … good time to try making stock too, all the veggies minus the celery – none here in SK:( My mom (French) used a pressure cooker, which I don’t have … so I looked for help and found you … and your readers. I retrieved the onion skins …!! BTY … no white vinegar and white wine on hand … so poured in a liberal amount of persimmon vinegar (big health item here) …fusion cooking?? … anyway, right from the start, the aroma was delicious (“mashita”). I brought it a low boil then turned it off and waited for an hour – saves gas – very expensive here in SK … I deboned the chicken … very very tasty and moist just like my Indonesian friend’s!!! Then, I threw bones with some meat still attached back in, along with the skin, neck, etc (no feet on this one) … and left in the veggies. Not much scum to speak of … because it was a young chicken??? Not wanting to leave the gas on overnight, I continued this morning … smells lovely, beautiful color, highly concentrated … now I can’t wait to see if it gels. Again, thanks!!! I’m anxious to browse your blog for other recipes … peace!

    Comment by peacepilgrim — January 12, 2008 #

  74. […] Decent Cook I fancy myself to be a decent cook. Iรขโ‚ฌโ„ขve had a lot of fun these last few past few weeks expanding my horizons. Tonight was soup night. I started out the evening by making the West African Vegetarian Soup from Cooking Light. It is incredibly easy and husband loved it. While that was cooking, I decided to use one of the chook carcasses from last weekend to make chicken stock – in the crock pot. This is only significant because our crock pot (cp) has only been used a few times since we got married. When the vegetarian soup was done, I filled containers for the freezer and we ate some for dinner as well. The next event was to use the same large soup pot to make stock using the other chook carcass. I spent the next few hours skimming the scum off the simmering mixture. The recipes I consulted suggested that the mixture should simmer for over four hours. I was impatient and decided that three was enough. I strained everything and put it in the fridge. We left the cp for the evening and I pushed it back so the boys couldnรขโ‚ฌโ„ขt get to it. Speaking of the boys, my evening activities were of great interest. They patiently watched me from just outside the kitchen. Adorable. As soon as my photo hosting service is back up, Iรขโ‚ฌโ„ขll post pictures of the evening. […]

    Pingback by Decent Cook « An exercise in futility…. — January 12, 2008 #

  75. Welcome, peacepilgrim–I am happy to hear about your culinary adventures.

    As for the scum–yes, young chickens, especially if they have been well bled, will leave less scummy stuff behind when you cook them.

    A good concentrated chicken stock is a beautiful thing to behold–I promise you.

    The bones of young chickens tend to have plenty of gelatin in them, so it should gel.

    Comment by Barbara — January 13, 2008 #

  76. Oh joy … my stock was a beautiful thing indeed to behold and so so so tasty – gel it did!!!! glad to know the reason for the plentiful gelatin … lack of scum – two excellent reasons to select young chickens … merci!!

    Comment by peacepilgrim — January 26, 2008 #

  77. My vote to Barbara for best culinary site. We’re seniors, and I do 90% of the cooking. I’ve made gallons of stock: chicken, turkey, beef and fish. They all taste great, but sometimes have been cloudy, and I wondered why. Thanks to Barbara’s “how to,” I’ll never rolling boil the stock again. And the onion peel is new to me. You’re a great communicator Barbara!

    Comment by Jim — January 28, 2008 #

  78. Thanks for the info. Will do.
    Ever consider doing a post on what to do with all those cheap, scary-looking things you see at the Asian mkt while buying buying chicken feet for your stock? Like Ox tails, for example.

    Comment by Matt H — February 9, 2008 #

  79. Greetings! Just found this blog looking for a chicken stock how-to and boy was I happy with what I found! Before I begin, let me say congrats on the beautiful little papoose and all my best to you and yours.

    Ok, so I read this whole beast of a post and all the comments–really was helpful and entertaining. I am now into the 9th hour of very low simmering–smells great, looks great. I am not using a very big pot–only 5qt–so I was going to go to bed since my stove gives a very steady heat and I was confident it would make it through the night. I want to see how long I could take it since you talked about going up to 48 hours and it just got better. I figured I would add some water thinking that sure it would dilute it a little but it would allow it to last longer and would cause more yummy goodness to break down into the stock and it would reduce ultimately anyway. I added about a pint (bringing it back to its original level). Soooooo, my point is that after adding some water it kind of freaked me out like I had just done something terrible wrong. Say it ain’t so, Babs! You probably won’t see this post since it is so old but it is being hit so often I figure I stand a chance. I’ll reply when its all said and done. Also, here’s the breakdown of what I added to the pot–
    1.62 lb chicken feet.
    2.15 lb chicken necks/backs
    about 10 thigh bones with a little meat left on.
    2 leeks
    3 carrots
    2 small yellow onions (skin still on of course)
    1 celery stalk with leaves
    3 sprigs thyme
    3 bay leaves
    3 sprigs rosemary
    some sage
    about 15 peppercorns
    handful of parsley.
    I baked the whole thighs with the skin still on and the carrots, onions, and celery on a baking sheet for about 45 minutes at 350. I drained the grease, put the veggies along with the leeks (they were rinsing while I roasted everything else) the parsley and a sachet with the other herbs in the bottom of the pot. Removed the skin and most of the meat from the thighs and threw in the bones and the meat. Added the feet, necks and backs. Added maybe a tsp or 2 of salt. Deglazed (if that’s the right term) the nice good bits off the baking sheet using about a half cup of chardonnay, adding that of course, and then filled to the brim with cold water. Brought the heat to medium high and incrementally brought it down as soon as it started to bubble until it was almost to low and just barely simmering. Skimmed like a madman for 45 minutes and then I have been going back every now and then and even doing minor skim work just for s’s and g’s. My only concern up to that point was if I had too much solid to liquid ratio? In the 5 qt pot I couldn’t even add a full 3 qts–some of the chix feet were kind pointing out of the pot like little ET’s phoning home (somewhat disturbing and yet I still couldn’t help smiling). So I guess that was my other concern other than adding some water that late in the game. This is an awesome foodie blog and I can’t wait to try some of your other recipes. So far I’m really happy just worried that after all this time and effort (not to mention the price–fresh herbs are OUTRAGEOUS!! and I literally had to drive to the other side of town to get chix feet, not that big of a deal I guess in a smaller town like Columbia, MO) I’d hate to end up with something worthless. Thanks a ton and keep writing. One last silly note, I love your narrative style and I certainly am not asking for that to stop but can I recommend that you give a synopsis of your recipe that may be a little more printer friendly and more to the point maybe at the end of your story? This bad boy is 10 pages long without the additional comments–28 currently with (don’t worry tree huggers I didn’t print it). Just a thought.

    Comment by Dave — February 11, 2008 #

  80. Thank you, Jim–I am glad to be of service!

    Matt–oxtails used to be pretty common items in the kitchens of middle to lower class Americans and Europeans, too. They make a fine soup, though because of BSE or mad cow disease, I won’t use them. The prions, or wonky proteins that cause the disease lurk in spinal and brain tissue, so no oxtails for me!

    Dave–you are fine adding some cold water to your stock as it cooks. If you cook stock in an open pot, you are bound to cause evaporation, and in doing so, you may need to add some water. Just always add cold water and you will be fine.

    Stockpots tend to be large because of the amount of stuff that goes into them. Even with my twenty-five quart stockpot, I often have chicken feet or bones sticking up out of the pot looking rather macabre. In culinary school, where we used huge electric steam kettles to cook stock, which would simmer for up to forty-eight hours, even though the kettles were large enough to hold a short person standing upright, there was usually something poking up out of the liquid. If not feet, then bones or carcass bits or herbs or leeks–you name it.

    It sounds to me like you will have a great stock at the end of your work. Let me know how it turns out.

    As for the printable recipe idea–it is something that my husband is working on. For now, the best way to print just the recipe is to cut and paste the recipe into a Word document or into an email to yourself, and then print the document or email. It is the way I do it when I don’t want to take my laptop into the kitchen to use one of my baking recipes, or when I want to give a recipe to my Mom who has yet to join the 21st century and is thus sans computer.

    Comment by Barbara — February 11, 2008 #

  81. Barbara,
    I’ve been making my own stock for years, but in much smaller quantities. We live in a 60 m2 flat and have only a small fridge (we also have a huge 15 yr old Minsk fridge that eats electricity like a rock concert so we only use it in emergencies. The Minsk is the landlord’s; the A-rated efficiency fridge is ours). My wife loves even my plain chicken noodle from that stock, and I have to say it isn’t bad, but I’m going to try some of your advice. I’ll wash the onions and leave the skin on, use some dry white wine, change my herb mix a bit, use leek and drop parsnip next time. I’ll let you know how it comes out–I make 4-6 l. once a month. Only cook it 2-3 hr but it’s a lot less stuff to cook. At least the poultry stores here sell “skeletons” (w pelvis for $0.80/kg, w/o for $0.40), as people still make their own soup!
    Btw I’ve been to Athens once or twice, as I come from Springfield over on the west side of the state. Athens was nice–Springfield has none of the advantages of country or city. Live in Prague now, as it was as far as I could practically get.

    Comment by Jeff Rubinoff — February 11, 2008 #

  82. Hello, Jeff!

    It always amazes me that nearly 18 months after posting this post, and I still get comments on it.

    Even making stock in smaller quantities, try cooking it a little longer–like four to six hours–to coax as much gelatin and naturally occurring glutamates into the stock. You can add cold water as needed, and you will get a stock that is stronger and more flavorful than cooking it for a shorter time.

    I’ve only driven through Springfield, but you are right–Athens has the best of town and country living. I like that it has such rural roots, while having a diverse population. It brings the best of both worlds to us, and living in Athens pretty special.

    Prague? How wonderfully cool is that? I’d love to live in a place with as deep and interesting history as Prague. I think you are quite lucky!

    Comment by Barbara — February 11, 2008 #

  83. All done! I stopped after 24 hours–I wanted to go 48 but I got paranoid. I really worked straining the veggies and bones, seriously putting some muscle into it and even pressing the cheescloth between a couple bowls using my whole 6’2″ 300lb frame for about 45 minutes! After all was said and done, all that meat and veg I mentioned in my first post ended up a ball wrapped in cheescloth smaller than one of those super-16 softballs (am I giving away my chicago background?) The stock was a really clear golden brown with some obvious liquified fat floating on top. I was amazed that I almost refilled the same 5 qt pot that I started off with–close to 4 qts before it went in the fridge to cool. I took a quick sip before I cooled it and at that point I was dissapointed with the flavor but I think I got more liquified fat than stock. Plus I had tried to render some chicken skin the day before while the stock was working and forgot about it in the oven–needless to say, I learned that burnt chicken fat stinks up the whole house and really lingers in the nose so that probably soured that initial taste. So today I pulled it out of the fridge and it had about a cm of nice off-white fat congealed on top. I skimmed pretty much all of it even though you said that you leave some behind. I didn’t know if you stirred the fat you left behind in with the meat jelly (how awesome is that stuff! never seen anything like it!) or if you kind of smeared it across each individual stored allotment. Anyway I saved all the fat so I figure I can melt some in with whatever I was cooking. In the end I got two ice cube trays and just shy of a quart freezing right now. I took a little and warmed it in a sauce pan and the taste was much better than before it cooled. Boy were you right about the velvety texture. I don’t ever remember a stock with a texture like that, but I probably never paid that much attention. Very rich (yet subtle) chicken flavor but I think I will add more salt next time. I don’t like much salt in most things but you should be able to at least taste it in a stock in my opinion and I really couldn’t. I didn’t measure how much I put in the first time–I guessed it was only a tsp or two (I took your comment about being judicious too much to heart). Looking at the list of above ingredients in a full 5qt pot about how much would you recommend? I was thinking to try doubling the amount I used this past time. I was also thinking that I will cut either the leeks or onions back to one instead of two and one less carrot. I had read somewhere that too many carrots would give it a “weedy” taste and that was subtly the taste here along with a little two much of an onion taste–not strong at all but still slightly noticeable, then again, I’m not a big fan of onions. I may also consider doing it without roasting the veggies and that may help to subdue the veggie flavor. This was my first foray into gourmet cooking (if I can humbly call this that), and I can say without a doubt that it was very gratifying and I can’t wait to use the stock for sauces and anything else I can find a recipe for it. Today, I just got the monstrous tome The Professional Chef by CIA. Wow, I’m a pretty strong guy and I can hardly lift the cover ๐Ÿ˜‰ This weekend I begin to teach myself using that but I will be back to your blog to read more! Thanks again for your help!

    Comment by Dave — February 13, 2008 #

  84. Hello, Dave!

    I told you that the stock would turn out fine.

    I think that for the five quarts, doubling the amount of salt would work, although, it is fine to use less at the beginning and then salt to taste again at the end of cooking, after the straining and the skimming of the congealed fat.

    In fact, that is the easiest way to properly salt stock without making the wasteful mistake of over-salting in the beginning of the cooking process.

    Here is one of my favorite ways to use good chicken stock–an easy sauce.

    Look at my instructions on how to make roux, and make a roux blonde or roux brun–or use the instructions on how to do it in the CIA manual. I learned to do it the same way–from that book, long before I went to culinary school, and since you have that book, go for it. If you’d rather read up on it here, the link is here:

    You bring your stock to a boil, and have your roux bubbling, and then you introduce one to the other–dump the roux into the stock and whisk or stir like mad. This, when seasoned lightly with salt and white pepper is one of the mother sauces, or foundation sauces of classical French cuisine–veloute.

    It is okay by itself, but when you add goodies to it–it becomes sublime. If you add some heavy cream, you have sauce supreme. Add egg yolks, heavy cream and lemon juice and you have sauce Allemande. The CIA manual will give you all the traditional derivations of veloute–one of my favorites is to add caramelized onions, lightly sauteed garlic, cream and sherry. I don’t have a name for it, but it tastes right fine and fancy.

    Even easier, you can use your stock to make pan sauces when you saute chicken breasts or thighs. You can saute your chicken, remove it to keep it warm, then add say, some onions and caramelize them, then add some herbs and garlic, and cook until fragrant, deglaze the pan with a bit of wine or sherry, maybe add a dab of dijon mustard and some cracked black peppercorns, and then some stock. Simmer to reduce by half, and if you want, you can add a dab of butter or a drizzle of cream, put your meat back in to coat and rewarm it, and voila–you have dinner, in only a few minutes.

    I make pan sauces all the time, and they are amazingly well flavored–especially with homemade stock–and they take just minutes. What is great is that folks think you are a genius when you make them.

    Good luck and let me know how it goes. If you need any advice, leave a comment or send email, and I will see if I can help you!

    If you decide you want to learn more about French cookery, you should also consider picking up another weighty tome–a copy of Larousse Gastronomique.

    It and the CIA book gave me a great foundation of knowledge before I went to culinary school. The third book which was of great help was Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking. Check that one out, too. It explains the science, the chemistry and physics, of food.

    Comment by Barbara — February 13, 2008 #

  85. Is it an absolute no-no, if you happen to have to leave the house for a few hours and you don’t think your stock has simmered for long enough, to turn it off, leave the pot on the stove, and start again when you get back?

    Comment by Anna — March 25, 2008 #

  86. Just make sure to cover the pot and don’t leave it for more than four hours like that.

    Comment by Barbara — March 25, 2008 #

  87. Hey, thanks for such a speedy response ๐Ÿ™‚

    I shouldn’t be gone for longer than 2-3 hrs.

    Comment by Anna — March 25, 2008 #

  88. Barbara:
    Great info. I have never made stock but am looking to expand my cooking repartee. I was searching for recipes using a pressure cooker to make stock. I have found many and then came across your blog and wondered what your thoughts were on using a pressure cooker for the stock. As time is a commodity in short supply at my house, the speed of pressure cookers is excellent. Thanks

    Comment by Carl — June 2, 2008 #

  89. I make vegetable stock in the pressure cooker often. I cook it for 5 minutes at pressure and then let the pressure come down naturally. It is unbelievable how delicious and easy it is.

    Comment by Jill, The Veggie Queen — June 3, 2008 #

  90. I made the chicken stock in the pressure cooker and it is awesome!!!!. Chicken parts and wings with all the veggies. Cooked under pressure for 45 min and WOW!!!!. Now to stock up on chicken parts

    Comment by Carl — June 16, 2008 #

  91. Hi Barbara: It appears from reading here that chicken feet are a primary source of the callogen and connective tissues which contribute to gel formation. Would you say that apart from the feet, that some types of chicken bones produce more gelatin than others? I have just used chicken wings only (for the first time) to make a stock and found that I have a more gelatinous stock that when using a more complete carcass. Thanks…

    Comment by Steve — June 22, 2008 #

  92. Heya!

    Great recipe! I’m a student so not really enough time (or utensils, alas, in student accommadation!) to try it, but come Christmas holidays, I’m definately going to give it a go!

    Thanks for the very interesting read!

    Comment by Aries.Zee — October 13, 2008 #

  93. Wow! I’m delighted to read your accounting of the proper preparation of stock. I google searched how to make chicken stock because I want to make my own in anticipation of a winter of a lot of cooking, so this information is rich and valuable. Thank you, too, for schooling us on the chicken feet – I never woulda thunk it!

    Comment by phlegmfatale — October 26, 2008 #

  94. I did my first chicken stock, I covered the pot and let it simmer, (very little bubbles) I did this for 12-18 hours and ended up with almost the same amount stock as water. Is this right

    Comment by Dianna — November 17, 2008 #

  95. This is my second time using this recipe. I found it last year when I wanted to make stock from a big bag of thighs my aunt had bought me and the remains of a turkey we were picking at. Sure turned out wonderful. Especially for a first time!

    This time it was all Turkey. One entire turkey carcase with some meat left on. The wing we left untouched. I just finished it and will make turkey noodle soup with it tomorrow ๐Ÿ™‚

    It smells soooooo yummy in here right now.

    I love the recipe. It is overwhelming to read. But it really isn’t bad and it was so great to know I had the RIGHT method to create a wonderful stock.

    Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

    Comment by Melissa — December 10, 2008 #

  96. I just love this post which interweaves its story of household pleasures and frustrations, and culinary school memories, with a wonderful recipe. I keep coming back to this post and I think I’ve read it three or four times by now.

    Thank you,

    Comment by Dan — December 14, 2008 #

  97. My wife and I make stock every two to three weeks. We started using feet and HEADS, yes heads. As well as all the cutting board trimmings of veggies, though be carefull as some things will discolor or take over the flavor. We always use the little cloves of garlic that are too small to peel. A little apple cider vinegar. We found our enthusiasm for making our own stock from Sally Fallon of the Weston Price Institute. She is a nutritionist that believes in local, organic, pasture raised animals. We use our stock in many soups as well as most of our Asian recipes.

    Comment by Eli — January 29, 2009 #

  98. I followed your instructions for making Chicken Stock — together with Sally Fallon’s recipe in Nourishing Traditions — and I was ever so careful to do everything perfectly, especially the skimming part — and I ended up with a brownish, murky stock?!@#$%???

    What did I do wrong??

    Should I use this, or throw it away???

    Can someone please comment????

    Comment by david — February 9, 2009 #

  99. Brownish?

    Two things–did you leave the skins on your onions? And did you included roasted chicken carcasses or roasted bones in your stock?

    Either one could create a brownish color.

    As for the murk–sometimes that happens.

    You can try straining the stock through several layers of cheesecloth–that often helps, or you can go through the complex classical method of clarifying the stock by making a “raft” with ground veal, egg whites and crushed eggshell.

    But let me know about those first two things–the roasted bones or carcasses first.

    Also–does it smell good? How does it taste–take a sip and see if it has an off taste, but only taste it if it smells wholesome. If there is an off smell, then out it goes, I am sad to say. (If you had pigs or dogs, you could feed it to them, but otherwise, down the drain with it.)

    Comment by Barbara — February 9, 2009 #

  100. Wow Barbara! This is just the information I needed! I sent an e-mail to the discussingNT yahoo group asking about this very thing, as I’m new to NT and home cooking. I also made stock that came out brown and tasted bad. After reading your instructions, I now realize a lot of things I did wrong. However, I do still have a few questions. Is there a general ratio of the amount of chicken (and veggies, too) to the amount of water? Also, I’m lucky enough to have access to chicken feet from the farm but am wondering if they need any prep besides washing. And do you use the dry white wine in place of apple cider vinegar that NT suggests? Finally, are you still at Salaam? I live in a Cleveland suburb and might be able to make it over there one day. Thanks so much for this wonderful post!

    Comment by Kim in Rocky River, OH — February 11, 2009 #

  101. Kim,

    I no longer work at Salaam–my daughter still does, for now, but I don’t know how much longer she will be there. Right now I am working from home.

    Don’t feel bad about asking me questions–answering questions and helping someone out is soothing to me right now, because I am not doing well emotionally. But answering makes me feel constructive and good and focuses my attention on something a little less wretched than my inner state.

    Okay, to the question.

    Just cover your chicken and veggies with at least six inches of water.

    Scrub the feet and clip off the claws. That is all you need to do.

    The wine and the vinegar do the exact same thing in the recipe–add an acidic component. White wine is a little bit smoother and adds a nicer flavor, but they both work well.

    If you are ever around in Athens, drop me an email, and we can always meet up for lunch or dinner somewhere.

    I’m glad you stopped by, and hope you stay and read some other stuff!

    Comment by Barbara — February 11, 2009 #

  102. Thanks so much for the help Barbara. I hope to make some stock next week, and I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m excited to have a better idea of what I should be doing this go around. And I will definitely be around reading your posts, old and new … it looks like there is a wealth of information! I feel like I hit the jack pot!! I’ll also let you know if I’m ever coming through Athens. And I hope you’ll do likewise if you’re ever in Rocky River. Life is full of hills and valleys isn’t it? I hope you make it out of your emotional valley soon and that everything works out the very best it can.

    Comment by Kim in Rocky River, OH — February 12, 2009 #

  103. Thank you so much for your wonderful, clear, and insightful post on this blog! I always thought around 12 hours would be the ideal time to boil the bones of the chicken, but another part of me thought this was overkill. I’m glad to have this original intuition validated, and I can’t wait to try this stock recipe out the next time I get a roaster from Chinatown. Also, I’m glad to hear the hint about the chicken feet… very cheap to buy, but never had the confidence to put them in, but I’ll definitely give it a whirl. Once again, thanks for the post!

    Comment by dan — February 15, 2009 #

  104. Like many others I found your post after a google search. My 11 year old daughter loves to make soups. We bought a bag of backs ans wing the grocery last night. Can’t wait to apply your expertise to my 40 year old memories of how to make stock. Thank you!

    Comment by Letha — February 26, 2009 #


    Comment by JANET — March 11, 2009 #

  106. Janet, it is not gelatinous when it is hot, only when it is cold. Soup stock that solidifies when it is cold into a gel has a certain velvety body and a lot more flavor as a hot liquid than “weaker” watery broths that never solidify when cool.

    That is why you want your stock to turn into a gel when it is cold.

    Comment by Barbara — March 11, 2009 #

  107. Oh , does this add more colestrol to the body , when you do it with the chicken feet , its very sticky , is this good for health , hope there is no colestrol…..

    Comment by patel — July 13, 2009 #

  108. Thank-you Barbara, for sharing your cooking knowledge; I found your site about a year ago and have been happily making my own chicken stock ever since (I am re-learning how to cook). I once saw a cook turn an upside-down sandwich plate into a weight to keep her grape-leaves from floating about in the liquid, it works in my stockpot too.

    Comment by Kim — July 27, 2009 #

  109. Hey Barbara,

    I’m a long time reader, and just wanted to say that this post was my first introduction to your blog well over two years ago. I’ve been a happy stock-making cook ever since, and still refer to the post from time to time. It’s great to see so many others feel the same.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

    Comment by Melissa — July 30, 2009 #

  110. Hey, I just wanted to chime in & say thanks for such an informative post. I found this during a search for a “from scratch” chicken noodle soup recipe. Only thing is, I’ve got 5 wild pheasant in my freezer (and sure to have more before the hunting season is over) and since I usually just cook the breasts & legs, I wanted to use the necks & bodies for soup. I imagine making pheasant stock would be the same as making chicken stock- I’ll follow your directions & see how it goes…and now I know I need to save the feet when I clean ’em! Also, hopefully by next Spring I will be raising my own chickens so I now know how to use all the “good bits” to make a beautiful golden stock. Thank you!!

    Comment by Woofless — October 25, 2009 #

  111. Hi Barbara!

    I ran across this post a few years ago and have been making stocks from leftover chicken bones (and duck bones and turkey bones) ever since.. Your tips have been invaluable.. I’m commenting today because my husband and I realized this morning that ever since we started making stocks and homemade chicken soup we’ve both been considerably more healthy.. Ever since I was a child I suffered from chronic sinus and bronchial infections and got sick really often.. But in the past couple of years I’ve only gotten sick a few times, much much less than before.. Well we finally put two and two together, and I’m now convinced that having a regular bowl of chicken soup made from scratch throughout the year has really boosted our immune systems.. By the way it’s also the BEST hangover cure ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Thanks so much Barbara for helping make my family healthy and happy!


    Comment by Natalie — December 23, 2009 #

  112. My stock has been simmering for about 90 minutes now. Already it is a beautiful yellow, has a marvelous fragrance, and the taste is beginning to be very chicken-y. I am using chicken thighs since wings were nearly twice the price (must be because it is BCS Bowl week) and the veggies. Thanks for a great recipe/technique.

    Comment by Patricia — January 6, 2010 #

  113. Thank you for this post! My wife and I always get grocery store rotisserie chickens, but neither of us like dark meat, so most of them had been going to waste. Then I started making stock, and I’ve been getting way more than my money’s worth out of them! I’ve been doing it for a while now, so I had a lot of things figured out, but some of your advice has been incredibly helpful. (Especially the bit about concentrating the stock — living in a small apt. with a small fridge can be a pain sometimes!)
    I do have one question, though. I never seem to get any scum on my stock– just maybe little bits of skin or onion peels. Is this okay? Also, I just use a metal mesh strainer, as I don’t have any cheesecloth. Is the cheesecloth necessary, or does it just help make the broth clearer?

    Comment by Gavin — March 9, 2010 #

  114. Hello, Gavin!

    The reason you don’t get scum is in large part because you are starting with an already cooked carcass. The scum comes from raw blood and bits coming off of the bones when the water heats up enough to release them. Once cooked, chicken carcasses don’t release the same sort of ookie stuff, because it is already congealed and cooked.

    Cheesecloth just makes the stock prettier, really! If you don’t care if your stock is crystal clear!

    I also have a new tip for you–if you have access to fresh turmeric–try a Thai or Indian grocery for it–peel a couple of roots and cut them into slices and throw them in the stock.

    This creates a gorgeous golden color, and it infuses the stock with the flavor and healthful compounds of the turmeric, which has been proven to be beneficial in warding off dementia and other brain disorders, as well as being an antiseptic that helps ward off colds and flu.

    Comment by Barbara — March 10, 2010 #

  115. I am doing this for the first time and really appreciate the detail. Thanks for taking the time to share your art!

    Comment by summerose — May 7, 2010 #

  116. thanks for the info. it really helped.. ^_^

    Comment by Nikko — June 16, 2010 #

  117. Thank you, SO MUCH. I’ve been staring at the recipes saying: add chicken broth. This definitely cleared things up for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Comment by Cherry — June 30, 2010 #

  118. My goodness, Barbara, what a wonderful read… both your blog entry and the great armful of grateful comments it has inspired. Congratulations!
    I have been making small amounts of stock all my life, in an ad hoc and purely amateurish fashion. I just boil up the carcass or any bones after eating chicken. It rarely comes out clear (wondering why is what brought me to your blog, thanks!) but it is always delicious, and exciting as an extra bonus meal conjured from what most people throw away. I usually just chuck everything in a large saucepan with an onion and a bay leaf, cover it with cold water, cook it a couple of hours, turn off the heat and let it cool naturally, refrigerate it overnight and cook it up again the next day and let it settle again before I strain off the juice. Not sure why, I think it’s just a matter of the time available.
    I just turn it onto whatever soup inspires me, possibly depending on what the bird was originally cooked with. I keep the fat in the fridge and use it to add richness and depth to all sorts of other food.
    My husband used to love the soups, until one day he found out how I made them (“boiling rubbish”!) and declared it was disgusting. I tell him he should visit a Knorr rendering plant and see where commercial stock cubes come from, but he remains squeamish. If he ever finds out about the chicken fat in the fridge… yikes!
    I’ve bookmarked your post and am resolved to try doing it ‘properly’ … as soon as I can get a couple of days clear to bring hens’ feet into the house without being seen!
    Many thanks for sharing your wisdom in such an entertaining way, may the world reward you for it.

    Comment by Rachel — August 23, 2010 #

  119. […] I’m not going to go into a full description of how to make stock here, because I already wrote that post a while back–like about four years ago. So, for a long, drawn out and involved treatise on the general method of making stock (in four part harmony with full orchestration), go here. […]

    Pingback by Tigers & Strawberries » What Do You Do When Your Turkey Is Too Big? — November 30, 2010 #

  120. […] Tigers & Strawberries ร‚ยป Making Stock: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. […]

    Pingback by Chicken Stock « Blah! — February 26, 2011 #

  121. Four and a half years later, and your post is still inspiring people to make delicious, healthy stock for their families. I guess you can start telling people that you are famous for your stock tips, lol!

    I’ve been making my own stock for a while, but your post answered some questions I’ve had, and I have no doubt this information will improve my stock immensely. My husband thanks you in advance. I still have two questions though- you say you roast beef bones when making beef stock, but I’ve been told to roast the chicken bones also. I haven’t tried it yet, so I was wondering if you had. Also, I’ve heard to break the bones so the marrow is better absorbed into the stock. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

    Thanks for your time! And for the record, I did go to YouTube and play the appropriate song while reading the post. :-p

    Comment by Jenn — March 11, 2011 #

  122. Hi,just wanted a receipe for making chicken stock. What a treat I ran into. Have chicken breasts I hope to debone and make stock from them. Wish me well, I have a smooth top electrick stove, or I just may try my crock pot. Thanks so much.

    Comment by Deborah J Brown — March 18, 2011 #

  123. I know this sounds like a dumb question. But what is the difference in simmer and boil. I’m not sure whether my stock is cooking, its on low, but it seems as though nothing is happening.

    Comment by Elizabeth — March 24, 2011 #

  124. […] the gelatin too much for it to be useful. You will often encounter gelatin-rich broths made from chicken feet in Asian markets. Again, there is a reason these foods are so cherished in traditional […]

    Pingback by B-r-o-t-h | CaveGirlEats — April 6, 2011 #

  125. This is excellent, thank you. I made my stock 7 days ago and hate the part where I need to strain the bones and veggies. SO my stock/bones/veggies have been sitting in the fridge for a week. Can you tell me about how long I can keep this batch of stock, or stock that is property strained, and if I need to start over as the most recent batch is now a week old. Thanks!!!

    Comment by Becky — March 6, 2012 #

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  128. Thanks so much for this. Great article and you obviously took a lot of time and care to write it. Much appreciated. Now I know what I’m doing.

    Comment by John Archer — April 29, 2012 #

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