I used to make chicken stock most weekends to use for the following week but got out of the habit several months ago, so this contest has been a great motivator to get back to basics. The chicken stock I make can vary according to what I think I might be making through the week. I love American-Southwestern, Central American and South American food and started experimenting with a chicken stock that would have a hint of the spicy flavors I would be adding in a recipe calling for stock. Sometimes I have only needed to add a little salt when cooking a recipe using this stock, because I was getting all the flavor I needed from the stock. In the below recipe, I used a smoky dried chipotle pepper, but feel free to experiment with other dried peppers as there's quite a range of spice and smoke flavors you can end up with. This recipe also calls for browning the chicken before adding the water, which provides a hearty chicken flavor that stands up well to the dried peppers, and gives the broth a great full chicken flavor. I've taken this approach with fish broth for paella too and have ended up with amazingly flavored rice (I have posted a paella recipe on Food52 that uses this approach). For the record, I always keep standard stock on hand that hasn't had peppers added to it and follow the same recipe without the peppers. —TheWimpyVegetarian
Test Kitchen Notes
ChezSuzanne's unique extra ingredients yielded a delicious stock; the orange added a bright note without shouting citrus, and chipotle and serrano brought a discernible back heat without being intrusive. Note: I used a 5-pound chicken, an 8-quart pot, and 4 1/2 quarts of water (the max for the pot), and the yield was about 4 quarts of a full flavored stock as opposed to recipe's yield of 6 quarts. Very satisfied with the finished product. Stove-top browning is messy so I would use the oven instead. Bottom line: Keeper ingredients for Editors' Pick; you decide the method (oven brown/roast or stovetop brown) to bring the chicken to the pot! - Amber Olson —The Editors
whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
water, or at least enough to cover the chicken
onion, peeled and cut into 2" wedges
carrot, cut into 1" lengths
stalks of celery cut into 1" lengths
leek, white and light green parts only, cut into 1" lengths
Wash the chicken pieces well to remove any blood. Heat up the oil in the pot you will use to make your broth. Brown the chicken pieces well taking care not to burn. Don't crowd the pieces or you'll end up doing more steaming than browning, so do this in shifts, removing chicken pieces as they complete browning on all sides.
Pour out any fat from the pot and lightly wipe with a paper towel. Fill the pot with water and put in the browned chicken pieces. Bring to a gentle simmer, removing any foam that occurs with a spoon. Once the foaming stops, add all the veggies, herbs and peppers.
Simmer on low heat to keep the broth at barely a simmer for about 3 hours.
I create an ice bath in a small sink I have in my kitchen by putting a lot of ice in the sink and placing an empty pot in it. Strain the broth into the pot using a chinois strainer, pushing the solids into the sides and bottom of the strainer to get all the flavor packed broth out.
Discard the cooked chicken parts and veggies, salt the ice in the ice bath and add water to the ice to chill the soup as quickly as possible. I store the soup in 1 quart ziplok baggies that I stack on a large plate in my freezer and thaw as needed through the week.
If you don't want the spicy flavor to be added, just follow this recipe and omit the peppers. For an even more gentle flavor, omit the peppercorns.