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First Time Making Stock

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
After pouring over pages and pages of posts and several articles, I am finally looking into making my own chicken stock. However, there are still some things I'm trying to wade through. First of all, I personally only own an 8 qt stockpot, but could borrow a 12 qt from a friend. Is it possible/even worthwhile to make stock in this sized pot? Unfortunately I am a poor college student and pots and such can be quite pricey. If it is worthwhile to make stock with a 12 qt stockpot, how much of the various ingredients would I need? I'm guessing I can't take a 16 qt stockpot recipe and cut it in half. Finally, what is the best way for a home cook to get a hold of bones (necks, backs, wings, feet)--do I just give a call to the local supermarket meat department and ask them? Thank you all so much for your help. I have wanted to make my own stock for a while, and am glad to see that I am coming closer to this goal.
post #2 of 22
I wondered the same thing the first time I made 3 gallons of chicken stock, until I wound up using it all up within 60 days. The only warning that I personally would give is to make sure not only that you can cook it, but that you can store it. For me, it is ice cube trays and lots of small Tupperware's in the freezer-figure out where you're going to put 3 gallons of the stuff.

For me, it's easiest to make a big batch of stock during crab season, because all the crabbers use chicken necks and feet for bait and I can buy them in 10-lb bags at the supermarket. Your butcher should be able to order a bag or box of them for you as well, although I have learned not to count on the supermarket butchers, but rather to go to a real butcher shop.

As far as cutting a 16 quart recipe in half, why not? You're not splitting an atom, just a stock recipe. However I will defer to the many people on this site that know what the **** they're talking about to tell me I'm wrong.
post #3 of 22

Fresh is best

Why would you want to make so much stock. One or two chicken carcess will make a wonderful 1 quart stock any stock you do not use reduce it down to make a glace de viande this will keep for weeks and add flavour to many a dish.
post #4 of 22
Cook's Illustrated recently rated 12 quart stockpots as the best size based solely on it holding their stock recipe. What malarkey. It makes too much for most people and it's terribly simple to make smaller fresher batches as the opportunity arises and not have the storage issues Plus no need for a single purpose pot.

I've made stocks in 6, 8, 12 and larger pots. I do it most often in my 6 quart pot. I no longer have an 8 quart and the 12 quart lives downstairs for special occasions.

As pointed out, reduce what you don't need to a small amount and it keeps well and has great flavor.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #5 of 22

I've made chicken, beef, and meat stock/broth in 4, 6, 7, 8, 12, and 16-quart pots. I've made a LOT of stock over the years ... overall, there's no ideal sized pot. You must consider the amount of storage space you have and other factors, such as how frequently you can replenish the protein ingredients and how much you may use. I ditched the 16-quart pot as it was just too unweildly (sp?), and I'm generally most comfortable with 8 and 12-quart pots. The pots store easily for me and there's usually plenty of room in the fridge or freezer for the finihed stock.

Recipe? Well, some people say there are recipes, but after a while you'll not bother with 'em. One of the best stock makers I know (she owns a very well-regarded restaurant in SF) just fputs the chicken stuff in the pot and adds water to a certain point, and goes from there. She can tell you generally about how much chicken she uses, and about how much water she uses, but for her it's not so much the amounts of ingredients but what the finished stock tastes like. IMO, it's almost always better to have a little more water than what you may ultimately need and reduce the stock until you get the taste you want. But, really, for the home kitchen even that can be a little bit of overkill.

The most important thing is good, fresh ingredients. The idea of throwing all your leftover pieces of carcass and old veggies into a pot will yield a compromised result.

Technique and patience is primary - in time you'll learn what works best for your needs and budget.

If you can, go to the library and borrow/read a copy of Judy Rodger's book, the Zuni Café Cook Book, and see what she has to say about making stock. She's a bit fussy <LOL> For her, there's a lot of subtlety and yechnique, plus excellent quality ingredients, that goes into her stock.

post #6 of 22
I like having big stock pots, too, because I make turkey stock at least a couple of times a year, and the big pots hold the carcass well. Just because it's big doesn't mean you have to fill it, right?

Count my vote in favor of reducing and/or freezing what you don't use right away. But if you're anything like me, you'll got through it in no time. Depending on the time of year and what all's on the menu, I can easily go through an average of a gallon a week.

If you can't find a good source for necks, backs, feet, etc., just use chicken bones or carcasses (from chicken you've boned or roasted). I often throw a couple whole chickens into a pot of water, just until cooked, pull all the meat off of them, then throw the carcass back into the pot with the rest of the ingredients.

BTW, when you make stock, use brown onions and leave the skins on -- adds beautiful color. Also, if you can get tops-on carrots, wash and include the tops. They add loads of great flavor.
Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.
-M.F.K. Fisher
Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.
-M.F.K. Fisher
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your help and advice. Its very encouraging to hear that I can get started on this project as early as this weekend. I'm excited to move away from boxed stock. Thanks again.

Shel: I'll check out that book.
post #8 of 22
Here's a recent article that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle. Several well-known and highly regarded San Francisco area chefs, including Judy Rodgers, offer their advice about making stock. While they differ on some points, they all agree that making good stock requires careful attention to detail.

STOCK TIPS / Chefs offer their do's and don'ts for making this essential base

BTW, if you can afford it, buy Judy Rodgers' book - it's one of the best books on cooking I've read as Judy goes into great detail on why she does everything, and the book is filled with wonderful stories and anecdotes.

Oh, one more thing. The above article includes some recipes, and they include the use of kosher salt. Do not substitute table salt, and preferably use Disamond Crystal kosher salt. The amount of sodium in a teaspoon of salt varies considerably - my "research" thus far has shown that 1/4 tsp of salt can range from 280mg of sodium to 730mg of sodium, and many salts are loaded with chemicals and garbage from the salt making process.

Here's the article that got me started looking into various salts: Why Season with Kosher Salt?

post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the other sources. I'll look into possibly getting the book once I get paid at teh end of the month.

I have another question. So far I have only found a place to get chicken necks. Would it work to use about 2 lbs of necks and 2 lbs of legs/wings with meat on to make a batch of stock in an 8 qt? I'm still trying to figure out some of ins and outs of the technicalities. I understand that necks, backs, and feet give the most gelatin to the stock. I'm just trying to figure out how to make a decent stock with what I have available.
post #10 of 22
Necks, back, legs, wings should make a fine stock or broth, especially if meaty. Feet are nice - I've used them a few times, but they're not always easy to find in some places.

4-lbs of meat should fit well in an 8-quart pot - just barely cover the chicken with water. And remember - gentle, gentle, gentle.

Be sure to rinse all the pieces - I'll sometimes blanch the chicken meat, rinse it, and then go about making the stock in a nice, clean pot. While the technique isn't mentioned often, some people use it with good results. I first learned of it from a japanese chef, and then a couple of other chefs and cooks mentioned it.

Here's some more information: Respect Your Mother

Good luck, and let us know how everything turned out for you.

post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks again. I'm planning to make the stock on Monday (put a holiday to good use). I'll definitely pop back in and provide a status report. Until then...
post #12 of 22
You may be worrying about this more than you need to be. Keep to the basics, you are just boiling bones in water. Well, that's a bit too basic, there is a bit more to it than that. Don't boil, but simmer slowly. A vigorous boil tends to make the stock cloudy and taste a bit off.

I prefer to usually keep the seasonings at a minimum if I'm making stock for some undefined use in the future. Little, if any, salt, maybe a bay leaf, a few whole peppercorns, perhaps a whole clove or two and a chunk of garlic. Extra flavor of the appropriate type can be added later when cooking whatever dish you are cooking.

If I have an idea what the stuff will be used for in the near future I'll add more stuff like carrots, celery stalks and tops, broccoli stems, ginger root, soy sauce, worcesthire, etc. And I'll second what someone said about onions - leave the skins on.

One night I made some stock after dinner, and threw in a big handful of the woody, snapped-off asparagus stems I normally just throw out. I should have thrown them out that time, too :mad: A bit much. One or two might have been okay.

I really like chicken wings of various types, hot and spicy, teriyaki, savory sour cream and herb, cajun, whatever. I usually buy whole wings but cut off the third section ( the scrawny tips) and stash them in the freezer, get them out when making stock. Gizzards also add flavor to stock.

I plan to make some of my chicken habanero chili in the next few days. The first step will be roasting a whole chicken stuffed lightly with lime , garlic and cilantro. Pull the meat off, cook up a big pot of stock with the carcass and then put together the chili with a bunch of other ingredients. Should be some tasty stuff!

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 
Yeah I probably am a bit more worried than I should be. I just like to have a really good idea of where I'm going. It seems I either stress before making something or stress more as it's not happening as I planned. Something I need to work on though. I'm excited for monday to hit though.
post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
Well yesterday was the big day. The stock making process went farily well, although I do have some things to debug before I try it again. The stock came out fairly cloudy (not sure why) but seems to have a nice deep flavor.

So here's what I did:
1. Used 1 lb necks, 1.5ish lbs legs and wings (each).
2. Brought the bones and meat up to a simmer, and skimmed a lot. Had a good time grossing out the girl by the amount of fat and scum.
3. After chicken was cooked, I removed it, deboned, threw the bones back in with a bit of the meat and some of the skin.
4. Let simmer for another 2.5 hours, added mirepoix and satchet of herbs.
5. Cooked for another hour, removed most of ingredients with a slotted spoon, then strained stock.

Now to the troubleshooting part. I only ended up with about a bit less than 2 qts of finished stock. I had filled the pot about 1.5 inches above the meat to start. Does this sound about right, or should I have gotten more stock. I was thinking I was going to get more. Any ideas? Secondly, any thoughts on what I may have done to get the stock cloudy? I'm excited to learn from the experience and make some more stock. Now I'm just waiting for the fat to rise to the surface in the fridge so I can use the stock.

I had one other question related to make glace de viande. I understand that I basically would reduce 4 cups of stock to about 1 cup via simmering, stirring often to prevent burning. Any idea on a rough amount of time this would take? I'm thinking of doing it one night (with one of the quarts) after work and as I do homework. Thanks again all.

French Foodie
post #15 of 22
It looks from your post like you used 4 lbs of chicken plus mirepoix for two quarts of stock, which sounds about right for me. I've found that it takes about a pound of stuff (all stuff - meat, bones, mirepoix) per pint. That's for a good strong stock that's practically soup by itself. If you're using it to make a soup or stew with a lot of other ingredients for flavor, you can dilute it some.

Cloudiness: was your simmer REALLY REALLY low? just a few bubbles breaking the surface? You might need a flame tamer if your stove/stockpot won't simmer that slowly. Also, for a lot of uses, maybe most uses, clarity won't matter at all.

How long will it take to reduce 4 cups to one? Depends. 45 minutes maybe? I have a chopstick marked in quarter-inch increments which I use to measure reduction easily - only works if you're using a straight-sided pot. Do it! Glace de fill-in-the-blank is fantastic stuff.
The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
post #16 of 22

Cloudy stock

Sounds to me as though you will get there with practice. Personaly I would not use the chicken skins for a white chicken stock, For a brown chicken stock for a Coq au vin for example, I would pan fry all the ingrediants proir to adding the water so the skins would add flavour. A tip you could try is to add a cup of ice cold water to your stock occasionaly this will help solidify fat in your stock and bring it to the surface to be skimmed off. Its good to bring the chicken bones and water to the boil first, skim off scum before adding vegetables and herbs but simmering for an hour should be enough for a good chicken stock. Your question on glaze de viande is harder to explain, you must remember you are reducing your chicken stock down to make something with the consistancy of thick honey when hot like rubber when cold this is a lot of reducing my tip would be to keep changing saucepans untill you finish up with the smallest pan you have. you will only have to watch over it in the final stages . Best of luck
post #17 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice. Why would you not use chicken skins. Do they have some negative effects to the stock? I thought that they only added some gelatin to the stock. I'll keep these tips in mind the next time I make some stock.

Grumio: My simmer was really low. The bubbles were just breaking the surface.
post #18 of 22


Ask any one who as been on a diet, and you can eat chicken meat but not skin because of its fat content. Too much fat produces cloudy stock. Gelatine comes from the bones.
post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
Ahh that makes so much more sense. Well that may solve my cloudiness question as well.
post #20 of 22
Thread Starter 
Alright so I must have really messed something up. I tried reducing some of the stock into a glace this evening. I got it down to about 10% of it's original volume, but it wasn't really thick. When it cooled to room temperature it was really rubbery though. It was a nice dark golden brown at this state. Any ideas on why this may have happened. It was my understanding that the glace should have been a thick consistency when it was hot. I'm wondering if my stock wasn't good to begin with. I'd really appreciate any help in trying to figure out what I did wrong.

Well I guess I'll try some of the glace or stock tomorrow and see how it works out once it's cooked.
post #21 of 22
When I make glace de ___ I generally reduce it by 3/4 or so, to a consistency of maple syrup. Coats a spoon, but isn't super thick (someone mentioned honey)

What I wonder about is the heat level for reducing stock (after it's done & defatted & all that). Should it be simmered slowly or does that just take longer? After all, it's not going to get any hotter than 212F.
The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
post #22 of 22

Simmer or boil?

Ok I think there are two schools of thought on this. I avoid rapid heating as this burns any residue clinging to the upper parts of the pan and can taint the stock. So I try and get a fairly high heat for a quick reduction but not too high. In my experience I dont see any advantage in slow simmering, unless you are popping out to the pub! LOL :lol:
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