Chicken and Beef Stock


Image by Caroline West

When the grocers’ shelves are lined with ready-made stock, it’s easy to dismiss making your own.  But if you can find the time to make stock — it’s mostly a hands-off affair — your soups and sauces will take on a deeper level of flavour that can’t be found in a box, packet or cube.

The most common way to make a stock is to place a roasted turkey or chicken carcass into a pot, along with vegetables and water. It’s a perfectly good way to make a stock — but you’ll have a more flavourful stock if you start with raw bones.  Take it a step further and roast the bones first, and you have the richest stock imaginable.

I’ve provided a traditional method for making stock but please know, it’s not a rigid  formula.  Sometimes I add vegetables, sometimes I don’t.  If I have a ham bone, I’ll toss it in my pot along with the chicken bones.  Sometimes I roast half the bones and leave the other half raw. It’s all very flexible — the key is to use fresh, preferably raw, meaty bones.  It’s that simple.

A good cleaver will easily chop chicken bones.  Some butchers, if you ask nicely, will chop chicken carcasses for you — especially if you order them on a regular basis. For most of my cooking I use chicken stock — even in beef stew — because meaty beef bones are so expensive.  A good concentrated roasted chicken stock will hold up to a beefy dish better than a pre-packaged beef stock.

You will need a large stock pot, a large strainer and some cheesecloth.

Makes about 5 litres of stock


Chicken Stock:  5 pounds of meaty chicken bones, cut into 2″ – 3″  manageable chunks

Beef Stock:  5 pounds of meaty bones, cut into manageable 3″ chunks

Optional ingredients for both stocks:

  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • Bouquet garni (parsley stems, bay leaf, fresh thyme, peppercorns, all bundled within a cheesecloth or leek leaves and tied with string)
  • 2 small onions, quartered
  • 3 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, coarsely chopped

The following instructions are for a roasted stock. For a light stock, simply omit the roasting procedure.

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Place meaty bones in a roasting pan or baking tray and brown in the oven, turning as required to brown evenly.  This can take up to an hour.  Add the vegetables to the roasting pan, after the first half hour (so they don’t burn). If using tomato paste, add during the last 15 minutes of roasting; use the back of a spoon to smear the paste between the bones on the roasting pan.

When the bones  are golden, transfer them to a stock pot. Add the bouquet garni and enough cold water to just cover the bones.  Add the roasted or raw vegetables to the pot towards the last 40 minutes of cooking.

If you’ve roasted the bones, don’t be tempted to wash the roasting pan before you’ve removed those browned bits of meat stuck to the bottom. They pack a lot flavour so do not deglaze the pan with dish soap!  First drain the fat from the roasting pan; place the pan on the stove over med-high heat and just enough water to loosen the bits of meat.  Scrape the meat (a flat-edged wooden spoon works well)  and pour it, along with the water, into the stock pot.

Bring the stock pot to a simmer and leave uncovered. Do not boil the stock because this agitates the proteins, resulting in a cloudy stock.  Skim off the foam and impurities that float to the top with a spoon; the majority of the foam will be captured in the first hour of simmering. Add more water as it evaporates, to keep the bones covered.

Don’t be tempted to add salt to your stock — you may want to reduce it later, and if you add salt before it’s reduced, you’ll be left with a useless, salty stock and perhaps a few salty tears. You don’t need the heartbreak.

Removing the fat from the chilled stock
 Photo by Caroline West

Simmer very gently: 3-4 hours for chicken, 6-8 hours for beef.

To determine if your stock is flavorful, remove ½ cup of stock,  season with a pinch of salt, and taste. Continue to simmer the stock if you require more flavour.  The more meat on the bones, the less cooking time required.

Strain the stock through a colander and discard the bones and vegetables.  Strain again though a cheesecloth-lined strainer into a deep bowl.

Cool the stock quickly by placing the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice. Once cooled, place in the refrigerator until a layer of fat solidifies on the top of the stock.  Discard the solidified fat with a spoon.

The stock can now be stored, pre-portioned,  in ziplock freezer bags.   I normally reheat half of the finished stock and reduce it until it reaches a syrup-like consistency.  This concentrated stock can be poured into flexible muffin moulds and frozen until ready to use.

Nature’s very own OXO cube
 Photo by Caroline West





9 Responses to “Chicken and Beef Stock”
  1. Nancy says:

    This roasted chicken stock recipe is perfect — and I’m always amazed at how the stock imbues other recipes, like the lemony chicken pot pies, with incredible flavor.

  2. admin says:

    Thanks Nancy. It really is the best way to boost the flavours of your soups and sauces, naturally. Once you make your own, it’s hard to go back to the pre-packaged stuff.

  3. Nancy says:

    Hey Denise, did the other Nancy ever tell you what I did with a batch of this chicken stock? (I’ve become quite a pro with the recipe.)

    Well, one Saturday I took such care with it, making sure the stock simmered gently. I babied that pot for most of the afternoon. When it was time to strain, I put my strainer in the sink, and you guessed it. Poured the entire pot down the drain. It happened so fast I couldn’t stop my pouring.

    I was devastated. My sister tells me never to tell this story, it’s too upsetting to hear 🙂

    Now I use a wonderful 12 quart pasta pot with an inside strainer — a wonderful gift from a wonderful woman whose name starts with Nancy 🙂 [the other Nancy].

    And you’re right. The thought of using a purchased product just doesn’t cut it with me.

    Nancy Frost

    • admin says:

      The stock-down-the-drain trick only happens once in a cook’s lifetime, Nancy.

      Please tell your sister, your cautionary stock tale may save others the heartache of SDTD (stock-down-the-drain).

      I love your (Nancy’s) tip for using a pasta pot with a strainer! I’m sure it makes clean-up a lot easier, too.

  4. Tammy says:

    Bones are happily roasting in the oven. ( I have used bones that were from roast chicken dinners of past) Veggies are all cut and waiting to join them. Sunday is a wonderful day to make stock. Now to make sure not to strain it down the drain like Nancy.
    Oh how I have missed cooking with you Denise. Welcome back!

    • admin says:

      So happy to hear from you, Tammy!

      I, too, have chicken stock simmering on the stove. It doesn’t feel (smell) like Sunday without stock steaming up the kitchen windows.

      How I’ve missed you and all my food loving friends. Would love to see you at Colour Your Palate this year.

  5. Cindy Trytten says:

    Denise, your chicken stock is THE BEST (as I have made it many times after taking your course)! Now that I am a vegetarian, I am facing flavourless soups using the watery stock that I buy in a box a Thrifty’s! Not the same… do you have a recipe for vegetable stock that has lots of flavour?

    • Denise says:

      I think that’s the first time a vegetarian has endorsed chicken stock, Cindy! Thank you.

      I’m testing a vegetarian soup recipe that I think you’ll enjoy. Stay posted for a roasted vegetable stock recipe, too.

      In the meantime, if you haven’t already done so, invest in some good quality miso. It will instantly boost the flavours of your soups.

      So pleased to have you back in my “virtual” kitchen.

      • Cindy Trytten says:

        Miso! Great tip Denise, I’ve never used it before at home. Yes, I have to admit there are things I miss.. your chicken stock is definitely one of them… I’m looking forward to your vegetarian recipes and other tips and I am glad to be back in your virtual kitchen too!

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