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Recipe: Chicken Stock

Prep time: 2 minutes
Active cook time: 25 minutes up front, 10 minutes at the end
Total cook time: 1.5-4.5 hours, the longer the better

1 chicken, divided, skin and bones included
1 medium to large white onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 tsp of salt
1 Tbsp vegetable oil


  • Chef’s knife
  • cutting board
  • big stock pot, with lid
  • tongs
  • wooden spoon
  • big bowl
  • refrigerator-ready container or other bowl to hold the finished stock
  • enough Tupperware or plastic bags for 4 cups of cut cup chicken

This chicken stock is so simple, I can hardly believe I’m writing it down. It’s tempting to do too much with stock though, so it’s important that I remember the simplicity and perfection of this stock. More chicken will yield richer stock. I like to keep the ratio of one medium-large onion per chicken. I haven’t experimented with the bay leaves’ ratios. More salt will make the flavor richer, but part of the point of making stock from scratch is to avoid all the sodium in the commercial varieties. Make sure the stock part is large enough to hold all the chicken and have room to spare.


  1. Heat the oil in a stock pot.
  2. When the oil’s hot, brown the chicken pieces in batches. Use your tongs to place them in the pot and then to move ’em to the bowl. They should get crispy on the outside, so don’t brown more than a few pieces at a time. A crowded pot will leave you with soggy chicken.
  3. While the chicken browns, chop the onion.
  4. When chicken pieces are no longer pink, put them aside in the bowl and do another batch.
  5. After all the chicken is browned and set aside, throw the onions in the pot.
  6. Cook onions, stirring occasionally with the wooden spoon, until they’re just tender.
  7. Add chicken back into pot, cover, and reduce heat.
  8. Cook chicken and onions over low to medium heat for about 15 minutes, until the chicken’s juices are released
  9. Remove the lid, turn up the heat.
  10. Add warm water to cover the chicken plus an inch or two. Warm from the tap is warm enough.
  11. Add the salt and bay leaves.
  12. When the water starts to bubble, turn the heat down to low; wash your bowl and tongs.
  13. Let the stock cook for as long as you can (up to about 4 hours), with the lid off.
  14. Put the chicken aside in the (now clean) bowl with your (now clean) tongs
  15. Strain the stock into a refrigerator-ready container. Cheesecloth or a colander with small holes will work.

Stock’s made, now what?
That’s it, seriously. This stock is awesome. If you’re making soup or something right away, you’re all set. If you’re going to save your stock for later, stick it in the fridge for a few hours. When it’s cool, scrape the fatty stuff off the top. You can freeze it easily by putting the cooled stock into plastic bags (e.g. Ziploc) and then lay them flat in a baking pan in the freezer. When they’re frozen, take the baking pan out, and you have stackable blocks of stock. Remember that the stock will expand in the freezer, so don’t fill the bags too full.

What about the chicken I set aside?
That chicken will be so tasty and moist, you’ll hardly be able to stand it. When it’s cool, wash your hands, and pull it off the bone in little pieces. You’re kind of shredding it, but not so carefully that it’s a hassle. You’ll have about 4 cups of shredded chicken to use in tortilla soup, chicken salad, chicken and noodles, whatever. Put it away in the Tupperware or plastic bags. It’ll keep in the fridge for a few days or the freezer for about a month.

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