Two Types of Chicken Stock
There are basically two types of chicken stock you can make at home. One is "brown" and the other "white". The difference is simple. The brown stock is made from roasted chicken bones and the white stock is not. The brown stock is obviously more involved and takes more time because you have to roast the bones first but the flavor is richer, deeper, and in my opinion - better.
But some recipes, including those for making some white sauces and white stews & braises require a white chicken stock. Here the bones are gently simmered for a period of time giving the stock a milder flavor and lighter color than the brown chicken stock. Classic veloute sauce and sauce supreme are two examples of white sauces using white chicken stock as a base.
What is a Sachet?
A sachet is a small bag made out of cloth or cheesecloth that is filled with various herbs and spices and used to add flavor to soup, stews, stocks and sauces. The combination of herbs and spices can vary depending on what you are cooking but typically include bay leaves, peppercorns, parsley and thyme.
Fresh herbs and spices are better but dried will do nicely if you don't have access to fresh. You can use kitchen string (I have a roll of kite string in our kitchen) to tie the bundle together or even tie the four corners to themselves. I have even seen these nifty disposable cloth bags you can buy at kitchen supply stores.
Alternatives to Homemade
I used to make chicken stock at home all the time and use some for a recipe and freeze the rest in quart containers. I even used to freeze a batch in ice cube trays for those recipes that only required a few tablespoons of stock.
Although I highly recommend you try making your own chicken stock for the delight of making a soup or sauce from scratch, there are alternatives now on the market that are almost as good as homemade.
I really like More Than Gourmet's line of stock reductions but they are pricy. Here are a couple of other chicken stock products that are good and may be more in your price range. Please do be sure to compare the labels.
Chicken Stock- How to Make Homemade Chicken Stock
|Prep Time: 30 min
||Cook Time: 4.75 hrs incl roasting
||Total Time: 5.25 hrs
||Servings: about 1 gallon
How To Make At Home:
- 5 pounds chicken pieces, wings, backs and necks. (If you purchase whole chickens to cut up for a recipe, you can always remove these parts and freeze them until you have enough to make stock.)
- 4 quarts cold water
- 2 onions
- 3 carrots
- 3 celery stalks
- For the Sachet
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 sprigs of fresh parsley
- 12 whole peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.
If you purchased whole chickens, cut them up into pieces. I like to remove the breasts to use in a different recipe but if you like white meat in your soup, use it but add it to pot near the end so it isn't overcooked.
Make the Sachet by adding the ingredients in some cheese cloth that you tie up with a string.
Peel the onions and carrots (although a good scrub will suffice). Chop the onions and quarter the carrots as well as the celery.
Place the chicken pieces and vegetables in a sturdy roasting pan. You may want to apply a thin layer of oil or spray Pam to the surface to prevent sticking. Roast the chicken and vegetables until the chicken pieces are brown. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a large stock pot.
If there is a lot of fat floating on the surface of the roasting pan, remove it with a spoon but leave the wonderful caramelized juices that are a result of roasting the ingredients. Put the roasting pan on your stove top and add 1 quart of the water. The pan is already hot so be careful and be sure to use your oven mitts.
Using a wooden spoon, scrape any brown bits of chicken or vegetables that may be stuck to the bottom of the pan and mix them into the rest of the liquids. Pour the combined water and juices over the chicken and vegetables in the stock pot.
Add the rest of the water to the stock pot and bring the heat up to high. You want to watch this closely at this point because as soon as the water comes to a boil, you want to reduce the heat to a nice gentle simmer. You will find impurities floating to the top in the form of fat or foam. Periodically remove the foam with a spoon.
Add the sachet to the pot.
Gently simmer for 3 to 4 hours removing any impurities as they form on the surface. When done, remove the sachet and strain the stock through a fine meshed strainer. Let the stock cool and then transfer it to airtight containers and store in the refrigerator for up to a week. You may find a thin layer of fat that has congealed on the surface of the stock after you have refrigerated it. Just scrape it off with a spoon. You can also freeze your brown chicken stock up to 3 months.
You now have a rich, flavorful, important ingredient that you can use to make all sorts of soups and stews. It can also be used when you sauté or to deglaze pan sauces. And you won't believe how much better it is than the salty canned stuff you buy in a store.