The Only Stock Recipe You’ll Ever Need

This speedy and ver­sa­tile chicken stock cov­ers a lot of ter­ri­tory in a short amount of time.

Cooking Light - - Ask The Experts The Teacher - AN­DREA NGUYEN Award-win­ning cook­book au­thor and culi­nary in­struc­tor

STORE-BOUGHT STOCK is a mod­ern con­ve­nience that sim­pli­fies life for home cooks. But I’ll let you in on a se­cret that you prob­a­bly al­ready know: Your food will taste good with pur­chased stock, but it’ll be over-the-top with home­made stock.

Go ahead and roll your eyes while you open a can of Swan­son, my (and Cook­ing Light’s) go-to brand. I buy it by the case for lazy days, but I also keep a stash of frozen home­made stock—aka pure freezer gold.

Al­though the terms stock and broth are of­ten used in­ter­change­ably, stocks are the heavy­weight play­ers in the kitchen. They are richer-tast­ing, ver­sa­tile build­ing blocks for sauces and other dishes. Thanks to a long sim­mer with lots of bones, stocks of­ten gel when chilled. Broths tend to be lighter (due to shorter cook times and fewer bones) and are typ­i­cally used to add depth to soups and sides. So in a nut­shell, think of broths as fla­vored water and stocks as di­luted sauce.

I used to sim­mer big pots of stock for hours—a half-day project if you in­clude butcher­ing the chicken. Nowa­days, I whip up de­li­cious batches in a pres­sure cooker in less than an hour and a half. Pres­sure cook­ers are game chang­ers for home­made stock—they quickly ex­tract in­tense fla­vor from in­gre­di­ents. Mul­ti­func­tion cook­ers like the In­stant Pot are pro­gram­mable pres­sure cook­ers, so you can set it to cook and walk away.

Good stock isn’t as sim­ple as sim­mer­ing a hodge­podge of in­gre­di­ents. For the best fla­vor, com­bine meaty parts (such as thighs) with scraps (like the car­cass). Add chicken feet to in­ject the won­der­ful rich­ness of ge­latin; ask a butcher for them, or make a trip to an Asian mar­ket.

Since there are only a few in­gre­di­ents that go into stock, make sure they’re all of good qual­ity. Use water that you like to drink. Add aro­mat­ics and herbs, but limit the veg­eta­bles since they can sup­press the chicken fla­vor. The beauty of my East-west Chicken Stock is you can tweak the di­rec­tion with a few sim­ple swaps. Keep it Western by stick­ing with bay leaf and pars­ley; use this ver­sion for ev­ery­thing from killer gravies and sauces to risotto. Or take it in an Asian di­rec­tion (East) by trad­ing those herbs for gin­ger and cilantro, and use it to trans­form a wimpy won­ton soup into a soul-warm­ing dish. Re­gard­less, add a Fuji ap­ple, which lends a nat­u­ral sweet edge to am­plify the stock’s umami depth. That’s a trick I de­vised for mak­ing pho broth, and it to­tally works for both ver­sions.

To en­sure a clear stock with a clean fla­vor, take a two-step ap­proach: Ini­tially par­boil the chicken scraps, then fil­ter the fin­ished stock through pa­per tow­els or cheese­cloth to re­move most of the scum (tech­ni­cally de­na­tured pro­teins) with­out rob­bing the stock of its highly cov­eted rich fla­vor.

Since home­made stock freezes beau­ti­fully, make a cou­ple of batches to keep on hand for the hol­i­days. Trust me: This stock will help your dishes sparkle all sea­son long. And thanks to your pres­sure cooker, you can whip it up in record time.

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