Healthy Ingredient of the Week – Chicken/Turkey Stock

By Guest Blogger Frances S. Garst, GIC

My mother taught me how to do this many years ago, saying that it was full of protein and minerals and good for the joints.

Whenever I have roast chicken or turkey, I put the leftover bones, skin, and other scraps into a large plastic ziplock  bag in the freezer. I will also put in scraps of onion, celery and carrot.

When I want to make a stock, I will buy some chicken necks, backs, and/or wings. If I can’t get those I try to get thighs on sale. If I am making a turkey stock, I buy turkey parts.

To begin:  Take your largest, deepest roasting pan and coat the chicken parts with a little canola oil. The number of pieces will depend on how much stock you want. I completely cover the bottom of the pan in one layer, because I make large amounts at one time. Put the chicken parts in the pan and roast at 375 degrees until they are a deep, rich brown.  Turn the pieces over and brown the other side. Do not allow them to burn.

Now you can either make the stock in the oven, on the stove top, or in a crockpot. (See below for stovetop/crockpot directions.)

I make mine in the oven because I make over a gallon at a time. Pull the roaster out of the oven and set it on top of the stove. Use tongs or a wooden spoon to pull the chicken or turkey pieces loose from the bottom of the pan. They may stick, but don’t worry about that. Add one to three sliced onions, depending on size and how much stock you are making. Also add some celery stalks and some carrots, cleaned and cut into chunks. If you like garlic, add a few peeled cloves, to taste. Sometimes I add mushrooms or mushroom stems. I season mine with a large handful of fresh parsley, about a tablespoon of whole pepper corns, two or three bay leaves, and about a teaspoon of salt – less if you are making a small amount. You need some salt, but not too much. You can always add more later. Omit the salt if you are on a sodium-restricted diet. 

Next, add a glass of white wine to the pan. If you do not have white wine, use a couple of tablespoons of white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar. This is important, because the acidity in the wine or vinegar helps to draw out the calcium and minerals, and dissolve the cartilage. The cartilage is good for your joints, or so said my mother. 

Now add the leftover chicken from the freezer. Fill the pan about halfway to two-thirds full. Pull the middle rack of the oven out and set the roasting pan on it. Pour in boiling water very carefully! Fill the pan to about two or three inches from the top. Cover the pan with either with the roaster lid or heavy duty aluminum foil. Carefully slide the rack back into the oven and let simmer at 225 degrees for several hours. I often do mine overnight.

The stock is done when the cartilage is gone from the end of the bones, and when the end of a smaller bone will break off when pressed against the side of the pan.

Strain the stock through a strainer into a large pot. Cool and refrigerate overnight. The fat will rise in a thickened layer and you can spoon it all off. You can make fat-free stock this way. If you had enough bones in the pan, the stock will have a thick, gelatinous texture when cold (almost like jello) and will give a velvety smooth mouth feel to the food you make with it.

According to my mother, the vitamins in the vegetables probably did not survive the long cooking, but we were looking for the protein and minerals, and the deep, rich flavor this process would give to the stock. If you want a light, more delicately-flavored broth, skip the roasting step.

I use my stock as a base for soups, gravies and pan sauces. What I do not use right away, I put into the freeze in one or two cup containers, to use as needed. 

I immediately start freezing the roast chicken and turkey bones for the next batch. 


Stovetop/Crockpot Directions

Take the roasted poultry and put into your largest pot or stockpot. If there are brown bits stuck to the bottom, deglaze the pan with some water and pour it into the pot. Scale back the amounts, but put all the same things in. You do not want your pot to be more than halfway to two-thirds full. Add boiling water up to two or three inches from the top – you do not want this to boil over. In a crockpot, just set it on low and leave it for several hours or overnight. On the stove, bring it to a low simmer and stir it with a wooden spoon. Do not let the bottom burn. Strain as instructed above.

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