For the best stock, use chicken backs and necks and add a few wings for extra flavour. (Remember to save and freeze any uncooked necks or bones from other chicken recipes; they will keep in the freezer for up to six months.) You can also throw in stalks from any kind of mushroom, which enriches the flavour. To keep your stock light in colour, use uncooked chicken on the bone; stock made from cooked chicken (such as a roasted chicken carcass) will be deeper in colour.
When I make chicken stock, I first poach a small chicken for about 30 minutes in the water, then remove it, pull off the meat (which I reserve for chicken salads, sandwiches and soups) and return the bones to the pot. Backs and necks are the easiest bones to buy. Onion skins give the stock colour. Never add salt because you can't reduce it for sauces, which would be too salty if you did.
- 4 pounds chicken bones
- 16 cups cold water
- 2 unpeeled onions, quartered
- 3 large carrots, cut into chunks
- 3 stalks celery, cut in thirds
- 3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 6 peppercorns
Place chicken bones in a large stockpot and add enough cold water to cover the bones by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat. Skim any foam that forms on top with a slotted spoon and discard it.
Reduce heat to low. Add onions, carrots, celery, garlic and peppercorns and simmer slowly for 4 hours or until stock is reduced by one-third.
Cool stock and strain into a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate. Remove fat before using.