Making homemade chicken stock is one of the easiest things to make and I make mine in my instant pot aka pressure cooker. Along with having a whole roast chicken in your recipe repertoire, next should be homemade stock.
I typically make chicken stock since those are the bones I keep the most of after making protein recipes. You really can use any bones, but you want to get the ones that are best for stock making such as chicken backs, wings, legs, feet. You want to get all that great gelatin and collagen from the bones into your stock. We often save rib bones from making pork ribs, or bones from pork shoulder roasts for stock as well. But for the most part I use chicken bones, and most often the bones from smoked chicken.
In addition to bones you want a wide variety of neutral, savory veggies for flavor. Carrots, celery, onion, garlic are the typical vegetables used in stock. I like adding in, ginger, leeks, lemons and sometimes turmeric. Really depends on what I have on hand. I also add in fresh or dried herbs if I have them such as parsley, thyme, bay leaves. You want to use vegetables that will hold up in the few hours of cooking.
I use Hawaiian sea salt and peppercorns as well for flavor. You can add any veggies you want, really. But these are great basics to start with for a fantastic stock. There are some you want to avoid because of their stronger flavors, cauliflower, beets, cabbages, broccoli. They will overpower your stock and possibly make it bitter.
I wash the carrots, but don’t peel them. No need. I also wash the celery and leeks to get rid of any dirt and grit. I cut everything in half, the onion and lemons in wedges. No need to peel anything. Slice up the ginger too. If you want to add in some greens such as carrot or beet tops, or herbs like fresh parsley or cilantro, only add a little bit. They are often too strong of a flavor and will overpower your stock.
Once everything is prepped I start adding everything to my instant pot. Bones from two whole smoked chickens. You can use rotisserie, roasted, baked or grilled chicken if you want. You could even use chickens from a bbq restaurant. Just strip off all the meat first, you don’t want to eat the meat after its been cooked an additional 4 hours.
Since this is a smoky broth I go with smoked chickens, but if you use anything else, add in some smoked salt or liquid smoke. This recipe isn’t for raw chicken to cook it in to make soup with after the stock is ready. This is for making stock to save for later that is made from just bones.
I love the extra flavor that comes from cooked chickens, in particular smoked chicken. The extra depth of flavor adds nuance to the stock, and when you use the smoky chicken stock for other recipes, such as soup, risotto etc, they become a whole new recipe with that extra layer of smoky flavor.
Next pile in your prepared veggies and aromatics. I add the salt and peppercorns now, then season again once the chicken stock is finished. I tend to go light on the salt overall, because I season again when I use it for a recipe, and the amount of salt depends on what recipe I am using it for. Always go by taste with seasoning with salt.
Next add your water. Fill ‘er up. I add water until everything is just covered. The amount of water will depend on how many bones you use, the volume of vegetables and the size pot you use. I usually add around 10 cups of water.
Once the stock is ready strain using a fat separator. I love this one from OXO. It holds a good amount of stock and has a strainer lid. I use a fine mesh strainer on top to catch anything small. I strain the stock twice before pouring into jars to store it. I let the broth cool down in the jars before I freeze.
You can see some of the solids that were too small to be strained have settled at the bottom of the jars. You can pour the broth into another jar up until the remaining solids are about to come out of the jar and discard those. I have done straining with a cheesecloth, or a fine coffee strainer but there will always be a little bit of the solids left. And those are just extra steps, that if you are like me, can be really messy. I am all for simple. I just keep an eye on it when I am using the stock for a recipe to not pour that part in when pouring in the stock.
A few notes about the recipe:
- Using smoked chickens yields the best smoky flavor. If you don’t have a smoker or have access to smoked chickens from a store, use rotisserie, grilled or oven roasted and add a little liquid smoke or smoked sea salt.
- The vegetables I use in this recipe are a great base for any stock or broth recipes. Use whatever you want, just keep in mind the milder the vegetable it wont overpower the stock like some do. (Cabbage family aka Brassica which also includes broccoli are much too strong for stock.
- You can make this broth immediately into soup once it is done cooking and after you have strained it. Strip the meat from the cooked chickens first before adding the bones to the stock.
- I run the cycle twice for my stock. 2 hours each cycle. You can be done and strain the stock after 2 hours, I like a much more concentrated flavor so I go for 4 hours total.
- You can also cook the stock until it is reduced by half. I find that this takes a lot longer, even if the flavor is more concentrated, I don’t like taking several days to make stock. It will need to be diluted with water for a soup broth. Which is fine, I prefer to make the stock the way I do, pour in mason jars and freeze until needed.
- I don’t add more salt to the chicken stock because I save the seasoning for whatever recipe I am going to use it in.
- Once the stock is cooled, freeze in mason jars. Leave some room for expansion. We forgot once and had frozen exploded broth mixed with broken glass. Not a great thing to find when you open your freezer. All that broth gone and glass cleanup isn’t my favorite thing to do.
- Bones from 2 whole smoked chickens (reserve meat to make soup with later if you haven't already used the meat)
- 2-3 carrots, washed and quartered
- 2-3 celery stalks, washed and quartered
- 1 yellow onion, quartered ( no need to peel)
- 2 whole garlic bulbs, cut in half
- a large piece of ginger, 3-4", cut in half
- 1 large leek, rinsed and quartered
- 1 large lemon, quartered
- 2 Tbsp sea salt
- 1 Tbsp whole peppercorns
- 4 bay leaves
- Water (8-10 cups)
- Place the chicken bones in the instant pot
- Add the prepared veggies and seasonings
- Fill pot with water to the fill line
- Place lid on and set to high pressure for 120 minutes ( 2 hours)
- You can stop here or set for another 120 minutes for an extra concentrated stock
- Strain using a fine mesh strainer and a fat separator
- Strain again with fine mesh strainer if necessary
- Transfer to jars or containers that are freezer safe.
- Chill in fridge before freezing.
Smoked chickens work best for this recipe. If you don't have a smoker or access to smoked chickens then you can use bones from grilled, oven roasted, or rotisserie. Add in a few drips of liquid smoke or some smoked sea salt for that smoky flavor.
This smoky chicken stock is great for drinking on its own, soups, risotto, any recipe that calls for stock or broth. The smoky flavor enhances any recipe.