Chicken Stock

Total Time:
14 hr 30 min
30 min
8 hr
6 hr

5 quarts

  • 4 pounds chicken carcasses, including necks and backs
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut in 1/2
  • 4 ribs celery, cut in 1/2
  • 1 leek, white part only, cut in 1/2 lengthwise
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 10 sprigs fresh parsley with stems
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 to 10 peppercorns
  • 2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 gallons cold water

Place chicken, vegetables, and herbs and spices in 12-quart stockpot. Set opened steamer basket directly on ingredients in pot and pour over water. Cook on high heat until you begin to see bubbles break through the surface of the liquid. Turn heat down to medium low so that stock maintains low, gentle simmer. Skim the scum from the stock with a spoon or fine mesh strainer every 10 to 15 minutes for the first hour of cooking and twice each hour for the next 2 hours. Add hot water as needed to keep bones and vegetables submerged. Simmer uncovered for 6 to 8 hours.

Strain stock through a fine mesh strainer into another large stockpot or heatproof container discarding the solids. Cool immediately in large cooler of ice or a sink full of ice water to below 40 degrees. Place in refrigerator overnight. Remove solidified fat from surface of liquid and store in container with lid in refrigerator for 2 to 3 days or in freezer for up to 3 months. Prior to use, bring to boil for 2 minutes. Use as a base for soups and sauces.

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    I made this just as described, and it is the best, most flavorful stock I've ever used. Thanks Alton!
    With everything getting so high in price at the grocery store I thought I'd make this stock after watching Alton make it on Good Eats(love that show. I made it just like he did and froze it in muffin tins and then put them in bags(great idea.
    My husband and I had a hankering for some chicken noodle soup so I was excited too use my new stock. All I can say is WOW!!!! What a difference the stock makes. It was fabulous. Best soup I've ever made because of the stock. I'll NEVER buy it from the store again. It may take a while to make but it is well worth it.

    God Bless
    it's unfortunate i didn't catch fritz1113's review before i attempted making this stock today. i guess the 5 stars at the top of the page were enough to win me over, and hey?it's Alton Brown. his culinary tips are usually flawless, but for the first time ever, i've encountered disappointment with the Good Eats genius. :(  
    followed the recipe to a T, and was excited to end up with so much chicken broth. i even attempted my first consommé with some of the stock, and was floored at how bland it was. it made me realize that the 2 gallons of water is TOO much for this recipe. my mistake was not tasting the resulting stock. again, i trusted my cooking hero. but i'm thankful for the lesson learned. always taste! and always read reviews.  
    i feel bad to rate it a 1 star because it's not that bad, but i think it's important for the average 5 star count to come down. people should be aware of the water problem. i'm hoping i can still fix this chicken stock tomorrow... i still love you, Alton!
    Michael Ruhlman, in his book Ratio, recommends a ratio of 3:2 water to bones for stock making. One gallon of water weighs 8.3 lbs. thus for each gallon of H20 you would need 5.5 lbs. of bones. This ratio is consistent with the one recommend by the CIA. This ratio probably seems extreme to most home cooks; it certainly was developed from the point of view of the professional kitchen with an ample supply of bones to throw in the pot. 
    For the mirepox he calls for a 5:1 ratio of water:vegetables (and mirepox is normally 2:1:1 onions:carrots:celery so this means 1.6 lbs of mirepox for each gallon of water. The CIA ratio for mirepox is a little lighter than Ruhlman's, calling for about half the amount. 
    He also notes that the finished volume of stock starting with 1 gallon of water would be 0.8 gallons. 
    AB's Recipe is about 4:1 water to bones ratio. (2 gal =16.6lbs to 4 lbs bones Ive made and it is very WEAK.
    I love this recipe, but like most of the other happy posters, I have altered it a bit. I likely use 1/2 gallon to 4 lbs of chicken, give or take a little.  
    I start by first simmering the chicken, which usually includes at least some thighs and / or legs with meat, alone for a couple hours. I take the chicken with meat out and cool, remove the meat for use somewhere else or more likely as an offering to the cats which are at this point psychotic because the entire house smells like chicken. 
    I add back the bones, then the veggies and herbs, simmer a whole lot more. I strain and let it cool, then either put 2 cups per bag for chicken noodle soup starter (yum or reduce down by half and fill a silicone mini brownie mold and freeze. The little stock cubes pop right out of that mold and are the perfect size.
    This is a solid recipe. I personally use the cooking process more than the actual recipe. I used about 7 lbs of chicken. Approximately the same amount of water. Onions instead of leaks, celery seed, lots of garlic cloves, a parsnip, a few bay leaves, a teaspoon or two of salt depending on my taste preference as it goes. Can always add a little more water if I get it too salty but I'm pretty good at judging. I'll say to everyone who finds it bland to just add some salt. It really adds what you find it to be missing I believe. I'm making matzo ball soup for Rosh Hashana and will use the skimmed fat for the matzo balls. Remember that all recipes should be tweaked to your own preferences in my opinion.
    As written, it turns out great. Rich flavor and perfect jello-like consistency when chilled. Within minutes the house smells amazing. I have modified mine slightly by first roasting the bones at 375F for 45 minutes, then adding a cup of white wine, two sprigs of fresh rosemary and roughly a tablespoon of herbes de provence, mostly for the lavender, to the above recipe. I find the flavor to be a little richer and more complex, and great for soup.
    This stock smells so marvelous! I was going to use it right away to make chicken soup because I have a cold, but I think I'm going to let it sit in the fridge like the recipe calls for. I halved the recipe because I just didn't want that much stock. I didn't have a chicken carcass, so instead I used six fillet thighs. More expensive, I know, but it is what I had on hand. The only change I made to the herbs and spices was just a scant sprinkle of ground sage. And, I did add a couple of grinds of sea salt. I've never used the method of holding down everything with a steamer basket. I used a heavy sieve instead, but it was brilliant.
    Well, this recipe fell a bit flat. You need more chicken and less water than what is listed. Also, this needs salt!!! Otherwise, a good stock recipe.
    I have used this stock multiple times for several dishes and it's just plain excellent!!!
    I agree with most of this except the amount of water (I would use one gallon and add hot water as needed, a good amount of saffron but no thyme, bay leaf or garlic, but I do add at the very least, 4 parsnips. I do not peel the carrots or parsnips rather wash and brush them clean. I use the brown skin cooking onions, cut off the stems and wash them but leave the all the brown skins on for coloring.... I always use the backs (not the necks but I also use a big package of wings and a few feet if I can find them (nails/claws removed. The next day, when I pull the stock out of the fridge, it is thicker than jello.... then I know I did it right!
    An Old Standby. Never fails.
    Loved the steamer basket idea. You can diffidently taste the difference.
    I make a few batches of this every fall. Ample chicken supply is crucial. This beats store bought stock any day.
    I've made this twice now, and I've learned a few things. 
    1. If you don't use enough chicken, you will NOT get the rich flavor and texture that we're after. You basically want to pack the pot with chicken parts, leaving only barely enough room for the veggies, and cover with water.  
    2. Roast your chicken parts the day before you make this, then refrigerate them overnight. I throw all the pieces into a roasting pan and roast at 475, flipping the pieces once during roasting. 
    3. Check the bones after about 8 hrs, and use tongs to break the bones in half, then let it go another 2 hrs. This lets the liquid get to the marrow inside the bones. 
    Important point to remember - if you taste the finished product with NO ADDED SALT, you will not taste any salt! The point is to have frozen, unseasoned broth which you can add to any dish and not worry about over-salting the dish. You can make a reduced sauce and season it to taste.
    To breaux.jennifer_10321225:  
    The steamer basket is used as a "weight" to keep all the ingredients submerged. Hope that helps.
    I make this stock nearly once a month and store it in soup-pot size portions in the freezer. This stock is a great base with nice body for soups and many other dishes. The fact there is no salt in this stock is a really good thing because salt can be added as appropriate to the recipe which I make later using this stock. 
    When I simmer the stock, I give it just enough heat to get some noticeable bubbling action in the pot; the stock has a nice light color. When the heat is higher and the stock boils instead of simmers, the end result tends to be a stock which is noticeably darker. 
    I always add a few extra pepper corns along with an extra bay leaf just to be a recipe rebel! 
    I'm in the process now of trying this. I'm confused thought -- what do you do with the steamer basket? It says put it on top -- but what do you put in it? When do you take it out? Help!
    I make this at least once a year (during the winter before cold season hits, then I can just plop the pot in a snowbank to cool it instead of buying or hoarding ice). I have learned over the years, though, to make sure to cook it hot enough. Too low on the heat and you get no flavor. And I usually cook it for longer, too. Today I started it at 7:30 and took it off the stove at 7:00, and it's still in the ice to cool now, at 11:00.
    Just okay. Needs some salt and flavor. Took too long for the ok results.
    Alton your are awesome! You never fail me. Thank you!
    Your Best Fan xoxo
    I've tried 3 other chicken stock recipes - with no luck - this is the best!!! Thanks Alton for such a delish recipe and so easy to make. Because there are only two of us, I use a small chicken instead of the scraps. Stock freezes beautifully too!
    This is my go-to stock recipe. I half the recipe since there is just the 2 of us in the home and I don't have a 12 qt stock pot. Sometimes if it's not golden yellow enough for me I'll add a 1/2 tsp of turmeric in the last 30 mins of simmering.
    Alton is pretty good at providing some great basic recipes. I think the more bones and pieces, the better. For anyone having 'flavor' issues, make sure you have a good carcass--large or more than one. That's where most of the flavor comes from, along with the veggies and herbs of course. But if you're a salt fiend, then this recipe might be a challenge.
    Good way, but for a richer stock, try the baked and crushed bones way. I have the recipe, but a lot of Cajun-Creole recipe books do as well with several variations. Most, if any, will crush the bones with pliers to get the marrow out though.
    loved it...
    This is a great stock. I paired it with AB's chicken and dumpling recipe and it was a hit. Thanks for another great recipe Alton!
    I've made this stock on more than one occasion. I've even used it as the base for an entire Thanksgiving dinner. It instantly smells delicious and tastes even better. I roast a lot of chicken and always save (by freezing) the bones, the seasoned skin, and left over cooking liquid. After accumulating enough, I throw them all in the pot along with a few raw drumsticks and wings. Using pre-roasted bones really helps develop a nice rich flavor. Also, it's worth using high quality chicken, both for your health and for the quality of the stock at the end. It really enhances the flavor, as the chicken wasn't artificially fattened with anything (like water or other chemicals) before being sold. So, you're just getting pure protein out of the bones and meat.

    If you've had trouble with this recipe, I'd bet it's because you didn't use roasted bones. And you really do need a lot of them...
    This recipe is a wonderful way to use up whole chicken carcasses after cutting up from the market. Not only does it save money buying whole chickens, but you gain a wonderful stock that can be used for lip-smacking soups and sauces. I place 4 chicken carcasses in a 20 quart stock pot with carrots, onions and celery along with Italian herbs, garlic cloves and peppercorns. i do wait until after the stock is complete before adding salt. This alleviates over-salting. i put this on to simmer before going to bed and when I wake up, it's ready to strain. I just use a collander and cheesecloth. After straining, i reduce it further, so that I can bag it in quart freezer bags for later use. Keep up the Good Eats, AB!
    Gotta love Alton Brown. This is a great stock. Nice building blocks for anything. He also has a great chicken noodle soup recipe that I use it in. Just keep in mind if you can't cook don't blame the recipe or the chef who made it.
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