Trouble With Toast

Back to Basics: White Chicken Stock | October 24, 2008

About a year ago, I bought Tom Colicchio’s cookbook, Think Like a Chef.  When I got it home and started reading it, I realized that, in order to make many (if not most) of the recipes, I’d have to make stock.  And when I say “make stock,” I don’t mean “go to the grocery store and buy canned/boxed stock.”  After all, Chef Tom insisted over and over that store-bought stock was no better than water, and that only homemade stock would lend the appropriate flavors to whatever dish I was preparing.  I put the book back on my shelf, where it stayed, lonely and unused.

Fast forward to a couple of days ago, when I was menu planning for next weekend’s celebratory feast to commemorate my parents’ birthdays.  Miss Lemmonex helped me pick a great lamb recipe, but as I was reading it, I noticed that it called for chicken stock.  Needless to say, I was not about to celebrate the births of my parents with canned stock.  So, I decided to revisit Mr. Colicchio’s book and tackle a kitchen necessity that I should have mastered long ago.

In reality, stockmaking turned out to be pretty simple–though the flavors absolutely hinge on having good, fresh ingredients.  Also, stock will be a much cheaper proposition if you have a good butcher, as you will be able to buy chicken bones at a fraction of the cost of chicken legs, wings, and backs (which is what I ended up using).  Oh, and if you use bones, you will save yourself the annoyance of having to trim the skin and fat off of the various chicken parts (if you have to use parts, try to get them skinless but NOT boneless).  Though, I must say, my dog was really excited when I was trimming the chicken, as he was the beneficiary of any messed-up bits.

The result was a great white chicken stock and a kitchen that smelled REALLY good.  Upon tasting the finished product, I wondered how I had ever used boxed stock to make my risottos and soups.  For shame!  While I can use this stock for future dishes, my next step is to use it as a building block for the brown chicken stock that will eventually wind up in the birthday lamb.  To be continued…

  • 4 pounds chicken bones or 4 pounds chicken legs, wings, and backs
    1 onion, peeled and quartered
    1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
    2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
    2 leeks, white parts only, trimmed and chopped
    1 bay leaf
    3 to 4 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
    3 to 4 sprigs fresh thyme

Rinse chicken bones or chicken parts well. Remove the fat and skin if any, and place into a pot with just enough hot water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and let boil for about 2 minutes.

Drain the chicken and discard the water (note: Chef Tom says that pouring off the original water after the first boil will NOT pour off flavor; instead, it will remove all of the blood and a lot of the coagulated proteins, which form a gray scum on the surface).  Return the chicken to the pot, cover with fresh water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and gently simmer the stock for about 1 hour, skimming whenever fat or scum accumulates on the surface. Add more hot water if necessary to keep the level consistent.

Add the onion, carrot, celery, leeks, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add the parsley and thyme and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Take the pot off the heat and strain the stock. Cool, and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 4 months.



  1. Yay chicken stock! Reduction sauces are amazing.

    By the way, it isn’t true that pouring off the water after the first boil doesn’t pour off flavor. You don’t have to believe it just because Tom Colicchio wrote it. It’s just that the small amount of flavor it wastes is worth it to him for the clarity it gives. I’d do it, too, if it weren’t for the extra hassle of bringing tons and tons of water to a boil twice on home-strength stoves.

    So no pictures of your stock? Did it solidify once chilled from the gelatin?

    Comment by Barzelay — October 26, 2008 @ 9:14 am

  2. Yeah, I was pretty proud of myself–it’s awesome how something so basic can massively improve the quality of your dishes.

    Luckily for me, I have gas burners now, so two boils actually didn’t take much extra time. And honestly, the really yummy smells didn’t start till the second boil. 🙂

    Of course, I forgot to take pictures. It did get a little layer of solids after being chilled, but that was easily skimmed off. And this stock turned beautifully into a brown one, which I will post about shortly.

    Comment by bettyjoan — October 26, 2008 @ 1:02 pm

  3. […] to Basics: Brown Chicken Stock | Oct 27th 2008 This weekend, I turned my previously made white chicken stock into a brown chicken stock, which will eventually be used in a fancy shmancy lamb dish.  Since I […]

    Pingback by Back to Basics: Brown Chicken Stock « Trouble With Toast — October 27, 2008 @ 7:44 pm

  4. […] White chicken stock […]

    Pingback by Recipe: Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup « Trouble With Toast — December 31, 2008 @ 1:54 pm

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