Ah, chicken stock. You always SEEM like such a good idea to really stretch my grocery dollar ... but, when faced with a carcass after a lovely roast chicken dinner, fear compels me to toss it. But I'm making a resolution: No more of this. I researched chicken stock (and chicken broth) and it really doesn't seem all that bad.

For starters, a definition: According to the BigOven Food Glossary, chicken stock is "a heavily concentrated reduction of bones and bony parts along with a lesser (if any) amount of breasts, thighs, and legs."

This is not to be confused with chicken broth, which, alternatively, is made more from meat (per those culinary geniuses at the Food Network).

"Chicken stock tends to have a fuller mouth feel and richer flavor due to the gelatin released by long-simmering bones," Food Network writes.

Thus, the Network says, "Unless you're making something like chicken noodle soup, where you really do want the stocky mouth feel, [store-bought broth is] a great timesaver."

Got it? Good.

My mother is a huge fan of Alton Brown, so it's tempting to consult him first. According to Mr. Brown, you want 4 pounds of chicken carcasses, including necks and backs. Then just simmer in water with vegetables and herbs. It's roughly a 6-hour job, start to finish.

But then comes Ina Garten, who says you should use "roasting chickens" to make stock, which seems to contradict the very definition of stock versus broth, doesn't it? Nevertheless, her version is much the same -- chicken, vegetables, herbs, water, boil.

Martha sort of hedges her bets and tells you to use chicken parts in HER basic stock recipe.

So ... I consulted the Joy of Cooking for some clarity. It told me that using 4 pounds of chicken parts (or a whole bird of the same weight) "will reinforce the flavor in many dishes without adding a pronounced chicken taste" and that using a larger 5.5-pound bird (or parts) will "yield a richer one, to give backbone to soups and sauces."

So I guess you can do either/or. Whatever's on hand? Even easier.

My mother's recipe for turkey stock calls for a turkey carcass, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaves, salt, paprika, peppercorns, and 10 cups of water. Her recipe says to simmer for 2 hours, strain, and then use the liquid for soups, gravies, and sauces.

And ... guess what? Chicken stock is much the same -- you just don't have to use quite as much water.

Do you make your own chicken stock?

 

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