Poultry Stock: How-to
Step by step to making a great poultry stock.
I always make my own stocks and have given step by step instructions here on how to make a poultry stock. You can apply the same principles to making ham w/a ham bone, beef with a beef bone, or seafood stock using shrimp, crab, or crawfish shells. However, if you don’t have the bones or the time to make your own. you can purchase broth or make a stock using Better Than Bouillon bases. These are great products which I use to replace salt in my homemade soups. They can also be used to enhance the flavor of canned broths. There are several varieties and the one you choose would depend on the type of soup you are making. Better Than Bouillon comes in Chicken Base (most popular), Beef, Ham, Vegetable, seafood, vegetable, and more. Some of these are hard to find but all are available on Amazon.
If you want to make soup such as my Chicken Sausage Gumbo, don’t let time keep you from it. With that said, I must emphasize that homemade stocks are always better and in my opinion, bring much satisfaction and accomplishment to the finished product. Therefore, I encourage you to try this method for making a homemade stock and applaud your efforts. I hope you enjoy all my recipes.
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FOR MAKING A HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK
- Cover the meaty poultry carcass along with the bones, skin, and left over juices with water or canned chicken broth. When it comes to a good simmer, season to taste with chicken base for the salt and flavor factor. (I prefer Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base mentioned above) The amount of chicken base needed depends on the seasonings used when you first cooked your poultry.
- Cover the simmering carcass with a lid and cook for a couple of hours. Halfway through the cooking, crack the drumstick and thigh bones using a couple of pliers or bone crackers. This allows the marrow to cook out into the stock making it even richer and more flavorful. Let the broth simmer another 30-45 minutes. You may have to add more water as it cooks down.
- Drain the broth off the bones and meat. Be careful that there are no small bones and splinters in your broth. I pour mine through a fine colander. Set broth aside for cooling.
- Place bones/meat/skin in a large flat pan and have a seat as you pick out all the good meat separating it from the grizzle, bones, and stringy part of the poultry. This takes some time and can be tedious. Get comfortable in front of your favorite TV show or use the time for a good visit with your family. You can elicit their help as well.
- Pinch the meat into bite size pieces and place in a food container or ziploc bag. Store in refrigerator until the next day when you are going to make the soup. Discard bones, skin, etc. If it is in the hot summer, I will place this in a plastic grocery bag, label it as chicken bones, and put in freezer until trash day. They can get stinky if put outside for more than a day in hot weather.
- Now return your attention to the broth. Note: The following information for cooling broth should be applied to your soups as well. When your broth reaches a temperature of 145 degrees (use a probe thermometer to test), the clock starts ticking for getting your broth cooled within safe food handling guidelines. There are a number of methods to get your broth cooled within safe limits. You can submerge the container of broth in an ice bath, pour into shallow pans, add ice (keep in mind, this will weaken the broth and seasonings will need to be adjusted later when cooking your soup), or use ice paddles.
- Read this article for more information on food borne illnesses and how to ensure that you are cooling your broths and soups appropriately. Your broth should cool from 140 degrees to 70 degrees F in 2 hours and from 70 degrees to 40 degrees F in no more than four hours. While stirring will aide in cooling your broth quicker, I prefer methods that do not require stirring. If you stir the broth too late in the cool down process, the fat may become mixed within the broth and not separate. I want my fat to remain on the surface so it can be scooped off and discarded the next day. I use all of these methods for cooling depending on how much time I have and how much broth I need to cool. My favorite method for cooling broth and soups fast is to submerge my pot in an ice bath and insert an ice paddle in the center of the broth. Ice paddles can be purchased online or at restaurant supply stores. I keep one filled with water and frozen in my freezer at all times. Used paddles are cleaned with warm soapy water, sprayed with a disinfectant such as Clorox Cleanup, rinsed well, wrapped in plastic wrap, and returned to the freezer for the next time I need to cool down broth or soup.
- Refrigerate your broth overnight. The next day, when you’re ready to make your soup just scoop off the congealed fat from the top, and you have a fat free delicious homemade soup stock. If your not ready to make your soup, store in containers or ziploc gallon freezer bags and freeze until ready to use. I always date my broth and use a first in, first out, rotation when pulling the frozen broth for my soup.