Culinary Arts

Learn How to Make Chicken Stock With Chef Thomas Keller’s Chicken Stock Recipe

Written by MasterClass

May 20, 2019 • 7 min read

This light, golden chicken stock is the workhorse of Chef Keller’s restaurant kitchens. At the French Laundry, it’s used for cooking pasta and as a building block for sauces. Reduced and fortified, it can be turned into a delicious soup.

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What Is Chicken Stock?

Chicken stock is the liquid—technically a “water extract”—that results from simmering chicken bones with water, oftentimes with the addition of meat and aromatic vegetables, herbs, and spices. Sometimes called bone broth, chicken stock is amazing because it turns a part of the animal that often ends up in the trash—the chicken carcass—into an incredible treat.

With a basic template of chicken bones plus water plus time, chicken stock is endlessly customizable. You can add meat, vegetables, and/or herbs to enhance the flavor of your stock. Choose to simmer the bones for 45 minutes for a light stock, or all day—perhaps taking advantage of a slow cooker—for a richer stock. Roast the bones for depth and color, or blanch them for clean flavor and a lighter color; or use raw bones.

What’s the Difference Between Chicken Stock and Chicken Broth?

Traditionally stock is thicker than broth, since it’s made just from the animal bones—no actual meat—and requires longer cooking to become flavorful, during which time collagen is released from the bones, making stock thick and gelatinous. Classic chicken broth can be made by poaching a chicken breast, and saving the mild liquid that remains. Confusingly, chicken stock is also sometimes called bone broth.

What Ingredients Go Into Chicken Stock?

Leftover chicken bones, including the neck and back, form the backbone of chicken stock. All you really need are some bones and some water. But if you’re going through the trouble of making your own homemade chicken stock, you might want to add some extras:

  • Chicken meat, such as whole wings.
  • Chicken feet are cheap and contain lots of collagen, which is what makes stock gelatinous.
  • Chicken giblets, including the heart, neck, and gizzard (leave out the liver).
  • Aromatics such as skin-on onion, carrots, celery stalks, garlic, parsnips, bay leaves, fresh parsley, leeks, fresh thyme, and whole black peppercorns.
  • A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar, added once the rest of the ingredients are at a simmer, can help release the bones’ nutrients.

What’s the Difference Between Raw Chicken Bones vs. Roasted Chicken Bones in Chicken Stock?

Roasting the bones will yield a darker, heartier flavor. You can roast the bones in a 450°F oven until browned, about 20 to 30 minutes. If you decide to roast your bones, you can also roast your aromatic vegetables alongside the bones. Roasting the bones will yield a fond brun de volaille, or brown stock, whereas blanching or leaving the bones raw will yield a lighter white stock called fond blanc.

3 Ways to Make Chicken Stock

There are two basic styles of stock: light and dark. These names refer to the color of the finished stock, and the way you prepare the bones for simmering. Once you’ve chosen a light versus dark stock, there are three basic methods of simmering the stock:

  1. Stovetop: Add blanched or roasted bones to a large stockpot with one to two times their weight in water. Bring to a low simmer, constantly skimming off the scum. Leave the pot uncovered so that scum will dehydrate, becoming easier to skim off the surface. Add aromatics, if using, and continue to cook until the stock’s flavor is to your liking. Strain, let cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate. When stock has cooled, you can remove the layer of fat (which you should save for another purpose) and freeze the remaining liquid.
  2. Slow cooker: Place aromatics (if using) in the slow cooker or crock pot, and place bones on top. Cover with warm water so that bones are completely submerged by about an inch, and cook on low for 24 hours.
  3. Pressure cooker: Combine ingredients in the pressure cooker and cover with water, being sure not to pass the “max fill” line. Cook for 45 minutes under high pressure, then allow stock to slowly come to room temperature and release steam from the pressure cooker.

How to Store Chicken Stock

Once you’ve made your homemade stock, strain it through a fine mesh sieve, discarding the solids. Cool to room temperature on the counter (to prevent bacteria from forming due to rapid temperature change), then refrigerate. Remove the fat that solidifies on top of the stock, and save for another purpose. For longer-term storage, freeze stock in plastic yogurt containers, jars, ziplock bags, or ice cube trays. If freezing in jars, be sure to leave enough head space above the stock—at least an inch—so that when it solidifies and expands in the freezer, the jars won’t break.

How Long Does Homemade Chicken Stock Last?

You can store chicken stock in the fridge for about a week, or follow Chef Keller’s lead and reboil the stock after three days for more concentrated flavor. Frozen chicken stock should keep for three months.

10 Recipe Ideas Using Chicken Stock

  1. Use chicken stock instead of water to cook more flavorful pasta, couscous, or farro.
  2. Break down a whole chicken and make chicken noodle soup, chicken soup with wild rice, or rotisserie chicken pho.
  3. Use as the base in Gordon Ramsay’s Creamy Cauliflower Soup.
  4. Deglaze the pan with chicken stock for homemade Chicken Piccata.
  5. Slowly hydrate oats with chicken stock in Wolfgang Puck’s Springtime Risotto
  6. Deglaze a roasting pan to make pan sauce or gravy.
  7. Braise chicken legs.
  8. As the liquid backbone in minestrone and other vegetable soup recipes.
  9. Use as the cooking liquid for rice in Paella.
  10. Thin out salsa verde with chicken stock for chilaquiles or enchiladas.

5 Tips for Making Chicken Stock

  1. Start by cleaning your chicken parts thoroughly—necks, backs, legs and all—removing any blood bits, liver, heart, or other impurities. The cleaner your chicken, the brighter the flavors of your stock will be.
  2. During the cooking process, never let your stock come to a boil. Violent cooking will break down the chicken bones and mirepoix, which will cloud your stock. A gentle simmer is what you want, keeping the pot slightly off-center on the burner to that the impurities gather to one side.
  3. Skim constantly as you go, keeping a bain-marie filled with warm water nearby so you can clean your ladle.
  4. Even as you remove impurities, you want to save the chicken fat, or schmaltz. Chef Keller shows you a trick for doing this: he adds ice to the pot, which makes the fat solidify near the surface.
  5. When your chicken stock is finished, you can use it right away, or measure it out and freeze it in specific quantities. You can also refrigerate it.
Thomas Keller straining chicken stock into plastic tubs

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Chef Thomas Keller's Chicken Stock Recipe

Ingredient Checklist

Total Time 1 hr 30 min | Cook Time 1 hr | Prep Time 30 min

  • 2.25 kilograms chicken bones, neck, and backs
  • 500 grams chicken feet (optional)
  • 225 grams carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 225 grams leeks, cut into 1-inch chunks, white and light green parts only
  • 225 grams onions, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 6 liters water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 bouquet garni (recipe below)

Equipment:

  • Colander
  • Bowl
  • Spider
  • 12-quart stockpot
  • Wooden spoon
  • Ladle
  • Ice bath (large enough to hold the container of stock)
  • China cap or coarse-mesh strainer
  • Fine-mesh chinois
  • Plastic container

For the bouquet garni:

  • 3 leek leaves
  • 5 Italian parsley sprigs
  • 5 thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves

Equipment:

  • Kitchen shears
  • Butcher’s twine
  • Cheesecloth
  1. Make the bouquet garni by wrapping leek leaves, Italian parsley sprigs, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves in cheesecloth.
  2. Remove and discard any organs that are still attached to the bones. Rinse the bones, necks, backs, and chicken feet, if using, thoroughly under cold water. Use your hands to move the bones around in the water. Change the water as needed until there are no traces of blood.
  3. Place all of the bones and the feet in a 12-quart stockpot, cover with cold water, and slowly bring the liquid to a simmer. Don’t let the stock come to a full boil or it will break down the bones and vegetables and create a cloudy stock. Skim off any impurities as they rise to the top, avoiding the chicken fat or schmaltz—the golden liquid forming at the surface. Skim off as much of the impurities as possible. Once the vegetables have been added, skimming will become more difficult.
  4. Once the liquid is at a simmer, add 2 quarts ice, turn off the heat, and then remove the golden fat and set aside.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients and slowly bring the liquid back to a simmer for 45 minutes, skimming frequently.
  6. Set a China cap or coarse-mesh strainer over a container large enough to hold at least 8 liters. Turn off the heat. Use a spider to remove the bones and larger vegetables. Use a ladle to scoop any remaining smaller particles and transfer to the strainer set in the container. Do not press on the solids in the strainer or force through any liquid that does not pass on its own or the stock will become cloudy. Pour the remaining stock through the strainer. Discard any stock that is cloudy with impurities that settle near the bottom of the pot.
  7. Repeat the straining process with a fine-mesh chinois over a container, ladling the stock into the sieve. Place the container in the ice bath to quickly chill down the stock, stirring occasionally until there are no more traces of steam.
  8. Store in the refrigerator. Make sure to remove the solidified fat before use. Reboil after 3 days, or freeze in several containers for longer storage.

Learn how to make meats, stocks, and sauces in Chef Thomas Keller’s MasterClass.