Easy Chicken Stock and Shredded Chicken

Okay, so I don’t want you to mislead by the word “easy” in the title of this recipe. Yes, it’s a simple procedure and I know you can do it, but it’s also pretty time consuming so I want you to know that up front. That said, most of the time involved is wait time, not active hands on time, so it really is easy. Really.

There are many, many different methods for making chicken stock. Some require several hours of simmering bones on the stove until you have a super concentrated, extremely gelatinous (yum, chicken jelly!) concoction. Nothing wrong with that, it produces wonderful, intense flavor, just not really my gig. Some use no bones, only chicken meat and vegetables which (and I know you’ve been wondering this) is not actually stock at all but broth. That’s the difference, bones. The main reason I like to use the whole chicken is that it’s a super easy way to cook the meat, which I use shredded in all sorts of different recipes, while producing a great flavored stock at the same time. It seems more efficient to me.

I do not make my own stock all the time. Again, I would hate to mislead you. I always have a few boxes of store bought stock in my pantry because I use it a lot. However, there a few really good reasons I like to make my own. The first is the flavor, it really is superior and more complex. The second is the sodium content. You’ll notice that homemade stock calls for no salt at all but the boxed stuff, even if it’s marked low or reduced sodium, has to have a fairly high sodium content to preserve it. And the third reason is that it makes me feel good about myself to put the whole chicken to use and not feel like I’m wasting too much. So there you have it.

I made a really delicious, comforting, classic chicken soup from some of this stock and the shredded chicken that I will blog separately very soon!

Easy Chicken Stock
(yields 2.5 – 3 quarts stock and 4 – 5 cups shredded chicken)

1 whole organic chicken (3 – 4 lb)
2 onions (yellow or white)
5 celery ribs (about 1/2 stalk)
3 medium/large carrots
 1 whole head of garlic
2 bay leaves
good pinch of black peppercorns (@ 1 tsp)
several sprigs of fresh thyme

Place whole chicken in a large stockpot (should be at least an 8 quart pot), making sure to remove any giblets inside.

Chop onions, celery and carrots in large chunks.

Cut head of garlic in half, crosswise. It’s okay to leave the skin on.

Place onion, celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns and fresh thyme atop the chicken.

 

Fill pot with water until it just covers the chicken and veggies.

 

Bring to a low boil over medium-high heat then immediately turn down the heat to low.

 

Cover and simmer for  at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours. At this point, the chicken will be cooked through and the stock plenty flavorful. If you like, you may simmer the stock longer but remember that it will become more gelatinous the longer it cooks. (If you do want a richer, more concentrated stock, remove the chicken after 1 1/2 hours, remove all the skin and meat, then return the bones to the stock pot. You may then simmer for several more hours if you so choose. Honestly though, I get great flavor using the shorter method.)
Be sure and skim off the scum that forms on the the top of the stock occasionally with a large spoon or strainer.

 

Remove only the chicken from the pot and place it in a large pan (such as a 9×11 Pyrex). Allow it to cool slightly before shredding it. Meanwhile, strain the remaining solids from the stock.

 

Place a strainer over an extra large bowl, preferably in your very clean sink.

 

Carefully, pour the stock through the strainer and in to the bowl. Discard the solids.

 

To cool the stock down quickly, place the bowl back in your sink filled with ice water and stir until it’s no longer hot.

 

Chill completely in the refrigerator. You made need to transfer the stock to a few medium size bowls to fit in your fridge.

Remove all of the skin from the chicken and discard it.

 

Thoroughly pick all the meat off the bones and don’t forget to find all the delicious dark meat. Shred with two forks or chop, then refrigerate or freeze for later use. If you’re freezing it, make sure you’re portioning it properly for your needs. I usually divide it up in at least two ziplock bags.

 

After the stock has chilled completely (overnight is fine), you will notice the excess fat has risen to the top. This makes it very convenient to remove it with a large spoon and discard it before proceeding. You should only keep the stock refrigerated for 3 – 4 days so it’s best to freeze most of it. I’ve found the best way to do it is to use muffin tins (I did not come up with this myself, found it on the internet)! Some people use ice cube trays but I think the larger portion from the muffin tin is better.

First, make sure the muffin tin fits on a level shelf in your freezer (pretty important). Next, fill the muffin tins almost to the top and, very carefully, place in the freezer.

 

Freeze overnight. Remove the pan then set it in a larger pan or your sink (must be larger than the muffin pan) that’s been filled about 2 inches high with hot water. Allow it to sit just long enough to release the stock, you don’t want it to melt too much. Then remove the stock rounds and transfer to a large ziplock bag. Freeze and remove stock as needed.

 

I suppose I could have offered up a recipe for St Patrick’s day this weekend, but I’m not really big on corned beef, soda bread or green beer and I’m trying to avoid potatoes. I’m proud to be half Irish but I can’t say it’s because of the food. I will offer you a blessing instead…

May you live a long life
Full of gladness and health,
With a pocket full of gold
As the least of your wealth.
May the dreams you hold dearest,
Be those which come true,
And the kindness you spread,
Keep returning to you! 
Irish Blessing

One thought on “Easy Chicken Stock and Shredded Chicken

  1. I love the muffin tin idea! I made a bit of a mess last week when I made stock from a rotissiere chicken carcass. I tried to ladle it into sandwich freezer bags. I like the muffin tin idea much better.

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