Stock is the basis of great cooking. In his book Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking, Michael Ruhlman says that stock is…
…the single preparation that might elevate a home cook’s food from decent to spectacular.
I absolutely agree. Stock is flavor, pulled out of leftover bones and meat. With homemade stock, you can make pan sauces and gravies that are rich and silky. You can make stews with amazing depth and complexity. And, most important, you have the best base for soup there is.
*If you’re making soup, and you don’t start with your own broth, you might as well just use water.
When I make chicken stock, I use my pressure cooker.
*Chicken stock is my pressure cooker’s “killer app”. I turn to it again and again.
Making stock in the pressure cooker is quick, easy, and the results are delicious. I make my chicken stock while I’m cleaning up after dinner. I get it started, then finish the rest of the cleaning. About an hour later, it’s done, and ready to be strained and refrigerated.
Making chicken stock really seems like culinary magic. You take chicken pieces that you can’t even eat as leftovers, some vegetables, some water, and the end result is liquid gold. Make your own chicken stock – you’ll never go back to the insipid stuff in the can!
*Don’t have a pressure cooker? That’s OK, just check out the notes for how to make chicken stock without it.
Recipe: Pressure Cooker Chicken Stock
- 6 quart or larger Pressure Cooker (I love my Instant Pot; in the pictures I used a Fagor 10-Quart Pressure Cooker)
- Slotted Spoon
- Fine Mesh Strainer
- Second pot about the same size as the first one (to strain the stock into)
Pressure Cooker Chicken Stock from leftover pieces – backs, wings, necks, or the bones from roast chicken.
- 3 pounds chicken bones w/ clinging meat (I use a gallon zip-top bag full of frozen chicken backs, wingtips, and other trimmings, or the carcasses of two roast chickens)
- 2 medium onions, ends trimmed and halved
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 celery rib, cut in half (optional)
- 1 large carrot, scrubbed and cut in half (optional)
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed, with peels (optional)
- 3 quarts of water, or just enough to cover the ingredients (or go to the max fill line on your pressure cooker.)
- Fill the pressure cooker: Put all the ingredients in your pressure cooker, and add water to cover.
- Pressure cook the stock: Lock the lid of the pressure cooker, and bring it up to high pressure. Cook at high pressure for 45 minutes in a stovetop PC or 55 minutes in an electric PC. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the pressure to release naturally, about 20 minutes.
- Strain the stock: Scoop out the bones with a slotted spoon, then strain the stock into another pot through a fine mesh strainer.
- Defat the stock: (Optional) Refrigerate the stock overnight, or up to 2 days, so the fat floats to the surface and forms a hard cap. Scrape the fat cap from the top of the stock with a slotted spoon.
- Use or freeze the stock: Use the stock immediately, or freeze for later use. I portion the stock into 1 quart and 1 cup containers, and freeze for later use. When using the stock, make sure you bring it to a boil to sanitize it; it’s OK if that’s part of the recipe.
*Add some herbs – I will use a quarter bunch of parsley or parsley stems, and/or a sprig of fresh thyme. I wouldn’t use rosemary, because it can be overpowering.
*More garlic – Alice Waters adds a whole head of garlic to her chicken stock in The Art of Simple Food. I think this makes the stock a little less versatile, but if you know you’re going to use it in something where garlic flavor will be appreciated, go for it!
*Leeks – Leek greens give stock a great flavor, and are Tres Francais. Add them in addition to or in place of the onion.
*As I mention in the ingredients, I make this stock one of two ways:
1. I keep a gallon zip-top bag of chicken trimmings in the freezer. Any leftover bones or trimmings go in the bag. When the bag is full, it’s time to make a batch of stock. These trimmings make great stock; chicken backs, wings or wingtips, rib bones from breasts…they all have a lot of collagen to give up to the stock.
2. When I roast a pair of chickens, I carve the meat off the bones, then make stock with the carcasses. This is in the same spirit as the turkey stock I make around thanksgiving.
*If I’m desperate, I buy 3-4 pounds of chicken backs from the store for my stock, but it’s been a while since I’ve needed to do that.
*As I mentioned above, I like to keep my stock in 1 quart and 1 cup containers. Another good idea I’ve heard is to freeze your stock in an ice cube tray, then dump the cubes of stock into a zip-top bag for storage. I have an ice cube maker, though, so I don’t own an ice cube tray. Also, I find the 1 cup size to be the smallest amount I use.
*Don’t have a pressure cooker? Use your oven. Use the technique in this recipe, just substitute chicken for the turkey: Turkey Stock Done Right.
*That said, the advantages of the pressure cooker are speed and collagen extraction. The pressure cooker does a much better job of getting the collagen out of the bones and into the stock. Pressure cooker stock looks like Jell-o(™).
*I was trying to figure out a way to show that in the pictures, but I wasn’t creative enough. You can sort of see how jelled it is in the picture where I started to remove the fat cap.
*What should you use the stock in? Soup! See the Related Posts for some ideas.
Questions? Comments? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
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