Making Chicken Stock Is My Source of Comfort Right Now. Here’s My Favorite Method.
Sickness and soup have gone together for as long as I can remember. When I was little, my mother would rotate between Lipton’s soup in a packet, Campbell’s Chicken and Rice, and Top Ramen to offer me sustenance when I was sick. To this day, I still crave variations of those things when I’m ill.
Now that I’m a cook and also a mother, it’s become instinctual to make some type of stock whenever someone in my family or a close friend gets sick. When my good friend was going through chemo, I spent a day making Instant Pot bone broth for her. When news of the Covid-19 pandemic hit, I went straight to the kitchen to make a big pot of chicken stock for me and my family.
Stocks and broths of all kinds can stand alone to relieve us of hunger, sooth an uneasy belly, or provide nourishment and hydration. For me, chicken stock is the source of all comfort, and it’s the soothing foundation for countless meals I crave in times of need. Homemade chicken soup, risotto, lugaw (Filipino rice porridge), and phô are a few of my all-time favorites. Sometimes, I sip on a cup of broth like a cup of tea. Just a few sips can be everything I need to feel solace.
My Tried-and-True Method for Making Homemade Chicken Stock
For me, the process of making the stock is equally as healing as consuming it is. I start by tossing a couple pounds of chicken (whole chicken pieces, wings, or whatever I happen to have) with some oil and roasting them in the oven until the skin is deep golden brown, about 40 minutes. This gives the stock some extra chicken-y depth. While those roast, I slice a head of garlic crosswise through the center and sear the root half flesh-side down in a stockpot with some oil until it’s also deep golden brown. This flavors the oil and gives the stock a roasted garlic essence. I also throw in the other half head of garlic raw, which creates more layers of flavor.
I usually keep a bag of things that would otherwise be thrown away — like chicken scraps, leek tops, fennel tops, celery, and herb stems — squirreled away in my freezer. I add these into the pot with the garlic and throw in halved onions and shallots, chunks of carrots, bay leaves, peppercorns, and the now-roasted chicken. I add water to the top and simmer for a minimum of three hours, but I like to go as long as I can (the longer the better!), refilling the water along the way.
I let it cool and strain it through a chinoise or fine mesh strainer, pressing out all the liquid. I divide my stock into plastic pint and quart containers and store them in the freezer. If I need a little, I grab a pint, and if I need more, I grab a quart.
What foods or rituals are giving you comfort right now?