Chicken Stock. It’s a Matter of Concentration.

Some people believe that if you concentrate hard enough, you can make things levitate. That is, you can raise them up in defiance of the laws of gravity. These people are deluding themselves. Like so many self delusionals, they passionately believe the nonsense they spout and will not hear reason. I have a slightly different take, believing that when you really concentrate, you can create great flavour. Nowhere is this more true, than when one is making chicken stock.

To make really excellent chicken stock, you need to start with excellent ingredients. You also don’t need to overdo the flavours. For my ultra concentrated stock or “Chicken Bombs” as I like to cal them, I used a short list of ingredients. Having a friend who is a butcher really helps as he is happy for me to take the carcasses away.

Quality carcasses really help this process.

Ingredients

  • 10 free range chicken carcasses
  • 4 onions
  • 2 large leeks
  • 6 celery ribs
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons of black peppercorns
  • 9 to 10 litres of water (depending on pot size)

This takes a couple of days to prepare. Though, it doesn’t take a lot of attention. Let it largely look after itself for a weekend.You will have a few rounds of activity as follows:

Round One

I have an old aluminium ham pot that is ideal for making this chicken stock. Chop the vegetables crudely. By that, I mean leave them in big chunks, not what you were thinking.

Crudely chopped vegetables and proof that the pot is BIG.

Slice the carcasses with a kitchen scissors so they are flattened and will fit in the pot along with the other ingredients. Add the liquid.

The pot took on six litres of water. The balance went into another pot.

Please note that I only managed to fit eight carcasses into the big pot and had to make a second first round stock in a smaller one.

Bring the pot to a gentle boil and leave it to do it’s thing, covered for anywhere between four and six hours. Let it cool.

Round Two

Remove the thick layer of chicken fat from the surface of the pot. Keep this for other uses.

There is a fair bit of pot juggling needed with this much stock.

Remove the solids from the pot and sieve into another pot. Discard the solids.

The muslin takes a lot of smaller solids out of the stock.

Strain the stock through a fine grade muslin.

Round Three

Place the pot of strained stock on the heat and gently simmer it until it has reduced by about five sixths.

This is well reduced and very thick. Look at the colour!

I ended up with one and a half litres of stock from my original 9 litres of water. The reduced stock will have a deep gold colour and is rammed full of delightful chicken flavour.

It’s tempting to try and drink it down in one go.

Round Four

Let this cool enough to handle. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze.

These cubes are packed with flavour. Really packed.

I ended up with exactly 50 large “Chicken Bombs”. They stay good in the freezer for months.

Uses for Chicken Bombs

They can be reconstituted to a thinner stock to use in risotto, soups or any recipe calling for volume stock. Work the maths out for yourself when you are adding the water.

The end product. Highly concentrated chicken flavour.

They also can be combined with white wine to make a stunning pan gravy when frying chicken. I can’t recommend this highly enough.

Please note that there is no added salt in the bombs. This leaves you free to add as little or as much as your recipe needs. These will not help you levitate the furniture by strength of will but they will help elevate your cooking to new heights.

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Latest comments
  • If the flavor is as good as they color, then flavor bombs indeed!

  • Wow, that looks good. I am too lazy to reduce my stock down – even though I know it makes sense, but having seen the gorgeousness of your stock popsicles and realised that I have to stop buying freezers really soon, I think I will start reducing my stock into bite-sized portions.

  • That is marvelous. I have gotten away from making my own stock, but you inspire me.

  • Is it wrong of me to want to make popsicles out of that gorgeous stock? 😉

  • Great tutorial. Nothing like a good homemade stock. I usually add some carrots as well. I always thought they add a deep color to the stock, but I can see here you’ve reached it without. Good to know! 🙂

      • I’ve been adding carrots out of habit, so it’s good to know it’s not that necessary.
        I roast the bones only for beef stock, but when it comes to chicken, I too prefer to skip this step. 🙂

  • I’m pretty much with you on method on this one with this difference: When I roast a chicken I carve all the meat off the bone and throw the roasted bones in a bag in the freezer. When I have 2 or 3 and need to replenish my stock stock I buy a couple of pounds each backs and feet and go from there. I find the roasted frames add depth of flavor and you cant beat feet for collagen!

  • I made a huge stock pot of this on Sunday, but did not concentrate it down. Very similar recipe except I used carrots instead of leeks and threw a few cloves of whole garlic in there too. I was down to one bag of it in the freezer, and that doesn’t bode well in soup season!! I should really try this method next time in the interest of freezer space.

  • Splendid stuff … puts hairs on your chest.

  • I’ll have to try it your way some time. Generally, I’ve made a couple of litres of stock whenever we had a roast chook, and then immediately made a soup with it rather than reducing it all the way down. It’s been nice and chickeny, but not sensational. I can buy bags of raw frames but myself would give them 25 minutes in the oven to get a bit of tasty caramelisation going, and maybe even roast the onions and carrots I’d use with them. Your stock is a lot purer and cleaner than mine, which is great for non-soup applications. I think the Husband would complain, though, if deprived of his chicken soup sediment. Sounds like I have to make two lots, then… 🙂

  • Well, looking at your hugely educational post again I feel peagreen with envy! Oh, if only I could buy chicken carcasses of your quality: you should see the scrawny bits of fragile bones I am offered here. Must admit I have never used ten carcasses at once . . . do use both leeks, with whom I have I passionate love affair, and carrots, but shall try the next lot without . . . and have never reduced to such an extent! Honestly, looking at the quality of your meat and poultry one almost [well, not quite] feels like putting up with your Oirish weather and move to such delightful wealth of ingredients . . . . [and, if a duplicate of this should appear on your page, oh the problems we in Australia are having with our internet! Delete one!! Oh – just came thru’ – thank God, like you we got a big ‘yes’ vote on same-sex marriage this morning – Glory Hallelujah!!!]

  • There’s a pressure-cooker Colombian chicken stew on Serious Eats that I make semi-regularly, as writen it’s a bit bland but it makes for great experimentation. I debone a whole bird using tutorials I find on YouTube (the computer is at the other end of the house to the kitchen), which means there’s usually lots of spare meat on the carcass that goes into the freezer, along with the odd finger or two. Luckily I cook for myself. When there’s three carcasses I make stock, much the same as yours above except without the reduction, which I now realise would save a lot of freezer space, so I will do this next time. I have however previously made chicken soup and thought it might be improved by adding gelatin, and ended up with chunky savoury chicken jelly, which is nowhere near as joyful as it sounds.

  • Can you sell this stuff? I mean, is there a stock market?

  • They’re like little frozen bouillon cubes but much better. Great recipe and great idea.

  • I get similar good treatment from my butcher, though I’m sure most decent ones will give you bones or carcasses if you buy something.

      • Mine too! He does wholesale to restaurants, so there’s always 3 or 4 people chopping up big sides of meat in quite a small shop. I think they do send the bones off to be re-purposed, but there are so many that giving some to customers makes for very good will.

  • Testing comments

  • Conor I always learn so much from you! Thanks for sharing this. Now, if only I could find a butcher that would share carcasses… 😉

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