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KotW: Roast Poultry, Part Two: Stockmaking November 28, 2008

Posted by schizodigestive in Kip of the Week, poultry, soups and stews.

In these days of chicken nuggets and microwave popcorn, stockmaking is nearly a lost art and — worse yet — sounds as if it deserves to be. The mere idea of taking an awkward, grease-coated poultry carcass, putting it in a pot with cold water, vegetables, and seasonings, and heating it carefully for four to 12 hours sounds so… pre-Civil War. Or at least pre-World War II. But I am here to single-handedly (it sounds so much better than “single-voicedly”) call for a renewed national interest in stockmaking; and I have two reasons you can’t possibly ignore.

1) As I write, good-quality commercial poultry stock costs between $2.50 and four dollars a quart. A large chicken carcass will make two to three quarts of stock, and a turkey carcass will make four to six, which — even after adding in the cost of vegetables, seasonings, and cooking — will go a long way toward reimbursing you for the bird. Argue with free meat!

2) Even without the economic argument, stock that you can make is better than what you can buy, anyway. And if you have fresh or frozen stock, you’re at least halfway to making soup, which is a terrific idea in general.


6- to 8-quart thick-walled pot (not iron) and lid
mesh colander
eight-quart mixing bowl
mesh strainer
slotted spoon


chicken or turkey carcass with skin and shreds of meat, broken into small pieces
reserved pan drippings and bits
juice from platter, if any
1 large onion, peeled and sliced or grated, from cavity or fresh
2-3 carrots, rinsed, topped and sliced or grated (no need to pare)
2-3 stalks of celery, rinsed and sliced thin, with leaves
2 cloves of garlic, skins on, smashed
2 bay leaves

Following the roasting directions I posted earlier will give you a carcass ideally seasoned for stockmaking. Bring 3 to 6 quarts of water (depending on size of carcass) to a boil in the pot, add ingredients and cover. Bring the pot to a boil again, but don’t leave it there; either reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the stock on the top of the stove for four to six hours, or leave it covered in a 225deg oven for 12 to 18 hours. The oven method produces more substantial stock, if it’s practical for you.

The temperature of a stockpot is very important, and should be verified with a meat thermometer if you have any doubt. Less than 170deg — or 180deg to be sure — isn’t safe; more than 205deg will begin bubbling, break up the sediment and sludge that should stay at the bottom of the pot, cloud the stock, make it bitter, and force you to strain it through cheesecloth or fine mesh before you use it. If you keep the temperature well below boiling, the sediment will stay at the bottom and you can pour the clear stock off the top through an ordinary plastic mesh strainer. If your recipe needs better filtration than that, use the plastic mesh strainer and then a fine wire strainer. Beyond that, I refer you to the arduous chemical methods lovingly set forth in classic French cookbooks. Bear in mind that severe filtration will lessen flavor.

Set up a colander in a big steel mixing bowl. Take the stockpot out of the oven or off the heat. With a slotted spoon or something like it, scoop all the solid trash from the stockpot into the colander, and let the stock drip off the trash into the bowl, which should take about half an hour. Discard the trash, rinse the colander, put the colander back in the bowl, and pour the rest of the stock through it; this will take out the last few big pieces. Take out the colander and empty it again. Rinse and wipe out the pot and pour the stock from the bowl, through the strainer, back into the pot.

Refrigerate the stock for 24 to 48 hours, remove the fat, optionally strain the stock one last time, and use it or freeze it in Ziplocs.

© /KC November 2008



1. sarawr - December 5, 2008

If there’s one thing Thanksgiving made me really thankful for, it’s that my fear of roasting a whole chicken was completely obliterated. I’m anxiously awaiting grocery shopping day, because I’m going to buy two or three more small birds (another chicken, a goose, maybe a turkey hen) for roasting. From there I can have delicious leftover meat for sandwiches/soups/quesadillas for about a week, and then… then!… I’m going to finally make stock.

Good timing, Crosby. Sometime this week, once by body is done rebelling against all forms of hydration, I’ll try to get something up to balance out all this real, healthy food you’ve been posting. 😛

2. slightlyscruffy - December 6, 2008

you’ll have to work at it — your unhealthy food is still real. if I’ve convinced you to make stock, though, mission accomplished and thanks.

3. Alicia - December 6, 2008

One of these days I’ll actually make stock. Of course, that will require Jesse wanting to eat roast chicken. Any chance of a REALLY good vegetable stock recipes? The ones I’ve tried have turned out super-oily and sub-par at best.

4. sarawr - December 10, 2008

The best vegetable stock I’ve got (aside from open can, pour into pot) requires no more effort than chopping a lot of carrots, celery, and onion with maybe just half a tomato and a whole bulb (peeled and separated) of garlic, then simmering everything in 2 quarts of water with 2 basil leaves and 1 bay leaf for about… oh, an hour, more or less. Don’t overcook it or the stock will taste exactly like overcooked vegetables. Strain, then nom.

Of course, I am Very Lazy. Still, this doesn’t come out oily or gross or anything, and it’s pretty delicious.

5. panterazero - December 10, 2008

speaking of Very Lazy — why peel the garlic? just leave the skins on and smash each clove with the blade of your knife. you’re going to strain the stock, after all.

that said, note that I DO recommend skinning the onion/s. Onion skins make stock (vegetarian or not) taste blah, garlic skins don’t.

6. Christmas dinner, summarized. « Schizodigestive — All Food, All the Time - December 26, 2008

[…] I’ll make stock then. The more I experiment with whole poultry, the better I get at it, and while stockmaking has turned out to be something I don’t particularly enjoy, it is well worth […]

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