You ask: Why make chicken stock from scratch? Well, put simply, you cannot make any decent bowl of soup from a canned broth. Beside the obvious taste difference, homemade chicken stock contains the gelatin (essentially concentrated proteins), derived mainly from bones and cartilage, which imparts a rich, silky texture to true stocks and broths. Our recipe has the added bonus of giving you a whole cooked chicken, which can be used for salad or any other use. It’s worth the investment. —Loulies
Place all ingredients in a large pot. Fill with 3 quarts cold water or enough to cover the chicken. Bring the water almost to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low. Simmer partially covered for 1 hour, skimming off any foam or scum that rises.
Remove the chicken and pick off the meat. Return the carcass to pot. Simmer uncovered another 1 to 1-1/2 hours. (Or, continue to simmer the whole bird, meat and all.)
When the stock is cool enough to work with, strain it through cheesecloth (or a fine-mesh sieve or strainer), first pressing the solids to extract as much juice as possible and then discarding the carcass, herbs, and vegetables. Let cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Can be refrigerated (covered in an airtight container) for up to 3 days, or frozen for 3-6 months. Fat will congeal on the surface when cold, which actually helps preserve the stock; remove and discard it before use. Prior to use, bring to a boil for 1-2 minutes. Use as a base for soups and sauces.
Variation: Chicken Stock from Bones & Pieces: Instead of a whole chicken, substitute 5 to 6 pounds chicken wings, backs, ribs, and other bony parts (including feet if you can find them). Simmer continuously for 2 hours.
Bonus for Dog Lovers: If you have a dog it will love the remaining scraps and crumbly bones put through a blender or food processor to make a nutritious chicken mush for addition to the daily dose of humdrum dry food.