Don't be intimidated by this. It's easy. You have four parts to making a stock -- the COLD water, the bones/meat, the aromatic vegetables (or mirepoix to use the snooty French culinary term) and the seasonings packet (or sachet d'epices, in French).

For a white chicken stock, place the bones/meat directly into the cold water for the stock; for a brown stock, brown the bones in a 350°F oven until dark golden brown, almost an hour. This makes an incredibly rich, flavorful stock with tons of body. If you don't have five hours to make stock, you can do the quick chicken stock in about an hour.

This recipe works well for turkey or duck stocks also.

Remove the skin from the chicken and chop into 3-4 inch pieces, making sure to cut through and expose the bones. Put the chicken in the stockpot with the water and bring slowly to a simmer. Periodically skim off any scum that forms, and if you wish use a skimmer to skim off the fat. (This stock simmering process makes your house smell REALLY good!) Let this simmer for at least three, and preferably four hours. (It is this long simmering process that extracts the maximum flavor from the chicken meat and bones, as well as the natural gelatin from the bones. When refrigerated, a good chicken stock will be clear and gelatinous.)

Add the mirepoix and sachet; tie the sachet closed with some twine and tie the long end of the twine to the handle of the pot; this makes the bag easier to retrieve. (A tea ball also works well.) Simmer for at least one more hour.

Remember that during the simmering process, it's best not to stir the stock. The end result will be much clearer if it is not agitated while simmering.

Strain thoroughly; the best way to do this is to ladle the stock out and pour it through a strainer which has been lined with a couple of layers of damp cheesecloth. If you're using the stock immediately, skim off as much fat as you can with a fat skimmer or a piece of paper towel, otherwise cool the stock right away by placing the container into an ice-water-filled sink, stirring to bring the hot liquid from the center to the sides of the container. Don't just put hot stock in the refrigerator; it won't cool enough to prevent possible multiplication of harmful bacteria. To defat the stock easily, refrigerate overnight, until the fat solidifies on the surface, then skim off.

You'll know you've made a really great stock with lots of body when you refrigerate it overnight, and the next morning when you go to skim off the fat the stock looks like chicken Jell-O. (See it jiggle!)

Makes about 4 quarts of stock.


This is a good, all-purpose stock which only takes a little over an hour to prepare, and is fine if you don't have time for the classic stock.

Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion; ] sauté until colored and softened slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the celery and carrot and cook until the celery has begun to get tender, another 3-4 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

Add half of the chicken pieces to the pot; sauté both sides until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked chicken to the bowl with the vegetable mixture. Sauté the remaining chicken pieces. Return the vegetables and chicken pieces to the pot. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the chicken releases its juices, about 20 minutes.

Increase the heat to high; add the water, salt, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, then cover and barely simmer until the stock is rich and flavorful, about 30 minutes.

Strain the stock and discard the solids. Cool the stock (ziploc bags filled with water and frozen make great stock-coolers), then place in a container in the fridge until cold, and all the fat rises to the top and sets. Skim off the fat, then you may keep the stock in the fridge for up to 2 days, and in the freezer for 6 months.

Makes about 2 quarts of stock.

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Chuck Taggart   (e-mail chuck)