Students are always asking what the difference is between chicken stock and chicken broth. “If I can’t find broth and only have stock, is it okay to substitute?” The short answer to that question is a simple ‘yes’. However, there is a difference if you are talking about home made or restaurant quality stock and broth.
Both stock and broth start with the same basic foundation: water, onions, celery, carrots, black peppercorns and a bouquet garni (a fancy French term for parsley, thyme, and a bay leaf). Broth is then enriched with the meat of a chicken-usually a whole chicken. The mixture is simmered and strained (and the chicken is great to use for something else-enchiladas, salad, etc.). It should be light with a clean and clear flavor.
Stock starts with the same ingredients but rather than simmering it with the meat of the chicken, stock is made with bone and lots of them. Sometimes a chef will roast the bones and vegetables in the oven first then add them to the stock pot with water, creating a much deeper flavor. The bones have a lot of natural gelatin in them so they give stock a richer ‘mouth feel’ and more body. Restaurants will usually but up a huge pot of stock every morning and this is what makes the food you eat, when you are out, taste so amazing.
It’s really simple to make your own stock. It takes time but no real work. When it is done, you can cool it down and store it in small, airtight containers in your freezer and then have it on hand when ever you’re making soup, sauces, risotto, pasta, etc..
That said, I know most people will tell me they just don’t have time to make their own stock (although, trust me, when you’re home one day working on a thousand other things, your stock could be simmering away on the stove). Luckily there are some decent alternatives. First, go to a market or butcher where they make stock in-house. Here in San Francisco that could be Whole Foods, Bryan’s or Antonelli’s. If you don’t have access to store made stock, the supermarket brands vary widely. I prefer the Swanson’s Natural Goodness broth, organic if you can get it. It is low in sodium which is ultra-important for stock. You should always use salt free or low salt stock when you’re cooking so that you can be in control of the salt in your food. If you add salty stock to a soup and simmer it on the stove for an hour, trust me-it’ll taste like a salt bomb by the time it is done cooking.
Here is the recipe I give out at school. Again, if you want a deeper, richer stock roast the bones and veggies in a 400 degree oven until they are really well caramelized-1 hour+. Add them to the stock pot and proceed with the recipe. Any decent butcher will sell you chicken bones, even if they don’t have them in the case. Also, with any stock, you should refrigerate it in an airtight container but no longer than 5 days-after this be sure to put it in the freezer.
Homemade Chicken Stock
5 pounds chicken bones (necks, backs or carcasses)
one 5 pound stewing chicken
3 onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 stalks of celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
bouquet garni (1 sprig parsley, 1 sprig thyme and 1 bay leaf)
Rinse the bones and chicken and remove any excess fat. Place in a large stock pot with enough cold water to just cover the bones. Bring to a simmer and skim off all gray ‘scum’ which will rise to the top while cooking. Once stock has come up the simmer, add vegetables and bouquet garni and stir to combine. Simmer for 3-4 hours, skimming the top as necessary. Do not let stock come to the boil.
Strain the stock through a colander into a large container. Cool completely in an ice bath. Refrigerate, covered, for up to 5 days or freeze in 1 cup portions.