Making a good chicken stock is something of a necessary ritual to mark the transition into fall. There are any number of telling signs: the dry air, the shorter days, the paling quality of the sunlight, the emergence of scarves and hats. All these things inspire me to spend inordinate amounts of time fantasizing about all of the soups to be made in the next months.
A neglected tub of vegetable trimmings has been tucked away in the freezer for the last number of months. Neighbor to these are multiple tubs filled with the remains of many roast chickens. None of that sounds very appetizing, but they survived, and provided a dark, savory, immensely satisfying first stock of the season. Browning the trimmings first deepens and enriches both the flavor and the color of the stock. And adding a generous hunk of parmesan rind provides the perfect note of salty, savory, dairy goodness.
3 lbs leftover chicken: either the carcass from a whole chicken, including the neck, and ideally with leftover meat on the bones, or the equivalent in wings and legs.
2 carrots, halved
2 celery stalks, halved
1 large onion, halved
1 T black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh parsley
2″x1″ hunk parmesan rind
4 quarts water
Heat a large stock pot to medium high. Add some oil. Once the oil is hot, add all of your chicken trimmings (you may need to divide the carcass if whole: remove the wings and thighs, and split the breast) and brown these for about 10-15 minutes until nicely browned, turning the pieces for an even browning.
Add 4 quarts water and scrape the bottom of the pot. Add vegetables, spices and parmesan rind. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low simmer for a minimum of two hours. Once it’s simmering, you can pretty much leave it alone, except for the occasional check-in and foam-skim.
When ready, strain and add salt to your liking.
It’s a good idea to freeze any stock that you won’t immediately use so that you have it on hand for the future.