This homemade chicken stock will add delicious flavor to your recipes--you'll never go back to canned stock!
|3||dried bay leaves|
|2 t||black peppercorns|
|6 lb||chicken bones (backs, necks, wing tips, etc, or 1 or 2 whole chickens)|
|3 q||water (or more as needed)|
|2||onions (large, unpeeled, coarsely chopped (peels add flavor and color))|
|4||stalks celery (coarsely chopped)|
|3||carrots (medium, coarsely chopped)|
|2 clv||garlic (crushed)|
|8||parsley stems (fresh)|
|6||thyme (fresh sprigs)|
|salt (to taste, optional)|
Put all the chicken parts into a large stockpot; if using whole chickens, cut them in half. Add cold water to cover, at least 3 quarts; and bring to a gentle boil. Stir occasionally and skim off and discard any foam that accumulates on the surface of the water. Once foaming has subsided, reduce the heat to a simmer and skim off the foam once more. Do not worry about skimming fat at this point; it is adding flavor and can be easily removed later if desired. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot, partially cover and let simmer at least three hours. It may be necessary to add additional water to keep the chicken bones submerged. After a few hours the stock may be lightly salted if desired, but many cooks prefer to salt the finished dish in which stock is used. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve and/or cheesecloth to remove all solids and cool as quickly as possible. As the stock chills the fat will rise to the surface and harden; this disc of fat can then be easily removed in one piece. Once the broth is completely cooled cover it and use within a few days or pour into clean freezer containers and freeze up to three months. This recipe makes about ten cups of stock.
Note: The solids strained from the stock may contain pieces of cooked chicken that can be saved and used in soups or casseroles if desired.