Dark Chicken Stock

This stock will make you WIN the holidays.

It takes a bit more effort than regular stock but the flavor payoff is so worth it. It's a good option for the holidays when you put a little extra love in your cooking. (If not, my East Meets West Chicken Stock is a less labor intensive but very tasty alternative.)

Gravies, soups and sauces will never be the same.

This stock is made in a similar way to traditional veal stock, in that the bones are roasted beforehand, but it is made with chicken carcasses which are much easier to find.

First thing you need to do is roast the chicken bones.

I usually buy my chicken whole and cut up the pieces myself for different meals. That's why I have three raw carcasses (I freeze them in a ziplock bag after butchering). Then I have a fourth carcass I saved from a whole chicken I roasted, it's the one closest to the camera. 

You can save bones or carcasses from roasts or you can buy them for super cheap from the butcher at your local meat market or grocery store.

Roasting the raw and cooked carcasses together is fine, just be aware that the cooked one will roast faster so you should take it out of the oven a bit before the raw ones are done.

While the bones roast, and develop a wonderfully flavorful caramelization known as the Maillard Reaction, prep your veggies, herbs and spices.

You need the following aromatics:

Cut the onions into eighths like this:

Cut the carrots and celery into chunks and cook them along with the aromatics in a little butter.

Cook on low heat until the veggies have caramelized. When the pan dries up and the brown bits form on the bottom of the pan add a splash of water to release them and continue to cook until the veggies have caramelized sufficiently. 

In the photo above, you can see the brown liquid created by adding water. Keep cooking and once the vegetables look like the photo below, they are done!

Yum.

Now we go back to the carcasses. I noticed that the cooked carcass was done before the others, so I removed it from the baking sheet and turned the other carcasses over to their lighter sides to get more even browning and then popped them back into the oven.

Can you guess which is the cooked carcass from the photo below?

If you guessed the second from the left, you're right!

I flipped the remaining carcasses over and popped them back in the oven for another 15 minutes or so.

Once they were nicely browned all over I placed them in a large stock pot and poured off the fat.

I strained the fat and saved it for using in other dishes. I buy really high quality organic chickens and their fat is high quality as well. Animal fats can be healthy (and very tasty) when used in moderation.

While the baking sheet is still hot, add a splash of water and scrape the lovely brown bits. Making sure not to scrape up any burnt black pieces as they will taste bitter.

Sorry for the blurry picture above. 

Apparently pouring molten hot liquid from a molten hot baking sheet in a pot with my left hand while trying to take a picture with my right hand is not my strong suit.

Who knew?

Anyway, combine everything together in a large stock pot, cover with water and let it bubble away gently and fill your home with the most amazing aroma.

Let this stock cook for a few hours or overnight, then carefully strain and store and get yourself ready for all the compliments you'll be receiving.

You're welcome :)

 

RECIPE

Ingredients:

3-5 chicken carcasses
2 onions
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
2-3 bay leaves
2-3 cinnamon sticks
8-10 green cardamom pods
about 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
about 1 tsp mustard seeds
1 bunch fresh thyme
butter, to saute veggies
water, as needed

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400F

While oven preheats, cut onions into quarters and then into eighths and rough chop the carrots and celery into large chunks.

Once oven reaches 400F, place the chicken carcasses on a baking sheet and roast until browned all over, make sure not to let the brown bits (known as sucs or fond) at the bottom of the baking sheet burn. Fond is where much of the flavor lies and you will be including it in the stock. If it burns, don't use it because it will taste bitter.

While the chicken roasts, slowly cook the onions, carrots, celery and spices in 1-2 tablespoons of butter until they caramelize. If you see the pan drying out and fond developing on the bottom of the pan, add a splash of water and scrub the bottom of the pan with your cooking utensil to release the fond and continue cooking.

Once the chicken carcasses have cooked to desired color, place them in a large stock pot and discard (or strain and save) the chicken fat and add some water to the baking sheet to release the fond in the same way that you released the vegetable fond in the pan earlier.

Add the released fond to the chicken carcasses in the pot and add the vegetables and spices that have been cooking to the same pot as well.

Cover the chicken carcasses and cooked veggies with water and bring to boil. Once boiling, reduce to simmer and cook covered for a few hours or even overnight if desired (be careful though!). 

Strain and store in an airtight container. You can freeze the stock as well, just make sure the container it's in is freezer safe.

Use to make the best gravies, sauces, soups, etc. EVER!

YIELD: about 4 quarts of stock