If you are a regular reader of this blog you know I swear by making and using your own chicken stock. There are two schools of thought on the chicken: pre-cook or not. I’ve done it both ways but I have found that for my taste there isn’t enough difference between the finished product to always sauté or roast the chicken bits first. And I want to show just what a minimal effort it takes to make a stock. This recipe is taken from Mike Vrobel’s Dad Cooks Dinner site; go there and learn how to make some great dishes.
I’m making this batch of stock with my new Instant Pot Duo electric pressure cooker. But you can make it in any pressure cooker, or a big pot, or even a slow cooker. You don’t have to use the equipment I use here; this just shows how I do it.
I bought a 6 pound package of chicken wings at Costco last time I was there; it was divided into three two pound packages. I used one here. I also had a few bones leftover from a rotisserie chicken we bought last week to make chicken soup. I grabbed a yellow onion, a carrot, and a stalk of celery and a few cloves of garlic from the pantry. The spice mix is very basic: 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon peppercorns, and two bay leaves.
Less than five minutes are required to prep. Quarter and peel the onion; chop the carrot and celery into two or three pieces each and crush the cloves of garlic. Measure out 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. The Costco wings are pre-divided and don’t have that little tip. If I buy whole chicken wings I cut them into three sections and include those little tips because they are loaded with collagen.
Notice I use only a teaspoon of salt. When you are cooking your final dish you’ll likely want to add more salt than you normally would if using canned stock – even low sodium stock. I use so little salt because my pinto bean recipe calls for salt pork and that adds enough salt to the dish. It’s always easier to add more salt later than it is removing it.
Everything goes in the pot
Then add water. I use about 1 quart of water for each pound of chicken. I used a little more water today, filling it up to the “Max” line.
Turn on the pressure cooker; set it to manual and cook on high pressure for one hour. Make sure to read your pressure cooker manufacturer’s instructions on how to bring the cooker up to pressure and how to safely reduce the pressure before opening. Newer pressure cookers are very safe; but you still want to treat it with respect.
The beautiful thing about an electric pressure cooker is I don’t have to hang around the kitchen waiting for it to reach pressure before reducing the heat. I turned it on and went back to my office to work on another project and came back after an hour hour later to cancel the warming function (not strictly necessary) then gave it another hour or so for the pressure to release.
I use a fine mesh strainer to help remove the solids from the stock. Sometimes I add another liner of cheese cloth inside the mesh strainer. Today I didn’t.
First I spoon out the solids and press to extract as much liquid as possible; then remove the solids and pass the remaining through the strainer into a pot that will hold at least 3 quarts of liquid. For good measure I pass it back and forth through the strainer between the container and the cooking pot three times. When I’m done I have a nice looking stock. Notice the layer of chicken fat starting to form on top of the stock. We’ll get rid of that later.
The solids get discarded; we’ve extracted most of the goodness from them. The stock is pretty hot so we need to cool it down. I give it a quick ice bath by placing the lidded stock container inside a larger container and pouring ice around it. This has the additional benefit of getting rid of a bunch of old ice from the freezer and a new batch starts to form.
Once it’s cooled down I take the stock container out of the bath and put it into the refrigerator overnight. The next day the chicken fat has solidified and can be more easily removed. I’ve used a few methods for this. An offset thin metal spatula will do the job; but so will gentling dabbing a sheet of paper towel on top and lifting it up; a lot of the fat will come up making removal of the last bits easy. I don’t stress out about removing it all; there is good flavor in the chicken fat and a little bit will help.
Then it’s time to portion it out. I use a combination of 2 cup and 1 quart zip lock containers with blue screw on lids. They don’t really hold a full 2 cups or 1 quart of stock; because it will expend when frozen. I get about 1 3/4 cup of stock in the smaller containers. No worries; this stock is so rich and flavor there is no problem in adding a bit of water in your final recipe to make up the last bit of volume you need.
I label the containers with the date made and stash them into the freezer. I got a little more than three quarts of stock for my three quarts of water.
See it really is just that easy.
You’ll notice that the finished stock is a bit more cloudy after it’s time in the refrigerator; it will still taste beautiful. It might be that adding cheesecloth to the strainer might help remove a few more solids. But don’t be put off by the cloudiness; it will clear back up when you defrost it for cooking.