Homemade Chicken Stock
Homemade chicken stock is one of my favorite things to make, particularly in the winter when it's so cozy to be in the kitchen, a savory pot of something simmering on the back burner. For this recipe, I recommend using chicken necks and backs, which you can get from your local farmer. For extra gelatin, you can use chicken feet. This is a part of the bird that is traditionally used in many cultures, and has many health benefits.
1-2 chicken backs with necks, about 2 lbs. of chicken pieces with some meat on them (basically, chicken carcasses)
Chicken feet, as many as desired (I usually use 6-8), prepared for stock first (please see my related article on chicken feet)
1/2 white onion, chopped
2-3 carrots, peeled & chopped
3-4 stalks celery, chopped
1 tsp. organic vinegar (white or apple cider both work just fine)
Filtered water, to cover bones
In a very large stockpot (with lid), cover the chicken pieces with water and add vinegar (be precise when adding vinegar to stock, as too much will produce a stock that tastes overwhelmingly of vinegar!). Bring to a gentle boil, skimming off the brown foam that rises to the surface. Add chopped vegetables and simmer gently, with the lid partially covering the pot, for as many hours as you have time. I never let mine simmer overnight, or when I'm going to be away from home...I don't like leaving the stove on unattended.
Remove from heat and carefully strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve (shown below in the photo gallery) to make sure all the teeny tiny chicken bones are out of your stock. (Caution: please never skip this step...you'd be amazed how many little bones get missed if you try to pick them out by hand! You can potentially suffer gastrointestinal trauma from swallowing sharp bone pieces. This is the same reason you never feed chicken bones to pets, either.) The result is a beautiful, clear liquid that you can add to soups, or just drink hot by the glass (see below). Once cooled, the stock will gel up and be so thick you can almost cut it with a knife (see final photo, below). Once re-heated, it returns to liquid form.