I confess. I've used boxes of Swanson's Chicken Broth more often than I'd care to admit. Being friends with a relative from the Swanson family dynasty isn't my excuse either. Sometimes I run out of my homemade stock and am too lazy to make a batch. And there's that white and blue box sitting in the pantry - convenience at my fingertips.
Swanson's makes "stock" too, it's a little richer in flavor, but my local stores don't carry it. I've tested other brands often over the years. But in the end, you ought to make your own. There's no comparison. Why? All you need to do is make a soup recipe, one time using store-bought, another using your own stock. You might never buy a box or can again. Of course, the same quality boost occurs in any dish that calls for even a little stock. In the end, using your own stock will make you a better cook - guaranteed.
I've decided to treat chicken prepared stock like I treat ice cream - "If you don't buy it, you can't eat it".
I learned a LONG time ago that making stock is a) easy b) rewarding and c) allows you to reach considerably higher levels of quality in your cooking. After reading an excellent essay on stock making in Michael Ruhlman's book "The Elements of Cooking" my stock making routine is even easier with better results.
Ruhlman derived his stock cooking logic from his experience at the Culinary Institute of America and his partnerships with uber-celebrity chefs like Thomas Keller and Anthony Bourdain, That, and he's a world-class home cook. Great life - writer, home cook. Hey - that's my life too. But I digress.
Using some of Ruhlman's advice, combined with my own particulars, this is the method I suggest. Detailed explanation follows in the next post.
1. Whole chicken rinsed, in cool water.
2. Heat to 180 degrees, cook for about 3 hours.
3. Skim off anything that comes to the surface.
4. Add vegetables, possibly herbs, cook for 1 hour.
5. Let cool, then strain and store in small containers in freezer.
|1. Foil pressed to top of frozen stock, no air, no flavor exchange.|
2. Shrimp stock stored in "fish" cup
3. Hard to see mark on cup indicating "1.5 Cup" level, some are 2 Cups
4. Drip from frozen coffee ice cream cake that melted a little