Chicken Stock

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS: Many recipes for homemade chicken stock simmer a whole chicken in water; we found that cutting the chicken parts into small pieces released the chicken flavor in a shorter amount of time since more surface area of the meat was exposed. This technique also exposed more bone marrow, which is key for both flavor and a thicker consistency. After testing a variety of vegetables, we found only onion was crucial. Sweating the chicken pieces for 20 minutes before adding the water further sped along the release of flavor, keeping our cooking time short.

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MAKES 8 CUPS  
TOTAL TIME 1 HOUR 30 MINUTES

Use a meat cleaver or the heel of a chef’s knife to cut the chicken into smaller pieces. Any chicken meat left over after straining the stock will be very dry and flavorless; it should not be eaten. Chicken thighs can be substituted for the legs, backs, and wings in a pinch. Make sure to use a 7‑quart or larger Dutch oven for this recipe.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 pounds whole chicken legs, backs, and/or wings, hacked into 2‑inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
8 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
2 bay leaves

1. Heat oil in Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown half of chicken lightly on all sides, about 5 minutes; transfer to large bowl. Repeat with remaining chicken using fat left in pot, and transfer to bowl.

2. Add onion to fat left in pot and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Return browned chicken and any accumulated juices to pot, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken has released its juices, about 20 minutes.

3. Add water, salt, and bay leaves and bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to gentle simmer, and cook, skimming as needed, until stock tastes rich and flavorful, about 20 minutes longer.

4. Remove large bones from pot, then strain stock through fine-mesh strainer. Let stock settle for 5 to 10 minutes, then defat using wide, shallow spoon or fat separator. (Stock can be refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 1 month.)

LEARN HOW: Chicken Stock

Nothing compares to the flavor of homemade chicken stock. Our recipe is basic, very versatile, and relatively easy to make, using just six ingredients. Stock is an important component in a wide variety of soups and stews, as well as in rice dishes. Most recipes for traditional stock require hours of cooking time to extract flavor from the chicken. We engineered an untraditional stock-making method from chicken parts that delivers maximum flavor in a minimal amount of time.

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1. CUT UP THE CHICKEN: Use a meat cleaver or the heel of a chef’s knife to hack the chicken legs, backs, and/or wings into 2‑inch pieces.

WHY? Cutting the chicken into small pieces exposes more surface area
and helps the chicken release its flavorful juices quickly. Also, the cut bones expose more bone marrow, key for both rich flavor and full body.

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2. SAUTÉ THE CHICKEN TO BUILD FLAVOR: Heat the oil in a Dutch oven until it’s just smoking. Lightly brown the chicken on all sides in two batches.

WHY? Browning the chicken helps fond to form on the bottom of the pot and builds flavor. Cooking the chicken in two batches is essential for it to brown properly; if the pan is crowded, the chicken will steam and no fond will form.

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3. USE A MINIMUM OF FLAVOR ENHANCERS: Add chopped onion to the fat left in the pot and cook until it is softened.

WHY? With our chicken flavor strong, very little else is needed to enhance
the stock. After testing a variety of vegetables, we found that only onion was crucial. It added dimension and complexity, but celery and carrot didn’t add anything, so we left them out.

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4. SWEAT THE CHICKEN TO EXTRACT ITS JUICES: Return the sautéed chicken and any accumulated juices to the pot, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken has released its juices.

WHY? Cooking the chicken pieces and onion over low heat helps to release the chicken’s rich, flavorful juices. This takes only 20 minutes, keeping the cooking time short.

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5. SIMMER GENTLY, COVERED: Add water, salt, and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce to a gentle simmer, and cook, skimming as needed, until the stock tastes rich and flavorful.

WHY? Covering the pot prevents evaporation, a departure from traditional recipes that say to simmer uncovered. The stock needs only 20 minutes of simmering instead of 2 hours. Boiling can result in a murky, greasy-tasting stock.

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6. STRAIN THE STOCK AND REMOVE THE FAT: Remove the large bones, then pour the stock through a fine-mesh strainer into a large liquid measuring cup. Let the stock settle for 5 to 10 minutes. Use a wide, shallow spoon to remove the fat that rises to the surface.

WHY? The solids need to be separated from the liquid. For efficiency, use a large fine-mesh strainer. Since the chicken releases its fat into the stock, it must be removed.

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