It's hard to beat the taste of chicken stock made from scratch. I am not a purist by any means (I keep a few boxes of the store-bought kind on hand when I haven't had time to fill my freezer with the homemade stuff), but when I do have the time you can be sure I am pulling out my largest pot and simmering last night's roast chicken carcass with a slew of aromatics for a flavorful stock to use for soups, risottos, and pan sauces.
My usual recipe — a chicken carcass or mix of bones, onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves, and sprigs of fresh parsley or thyme — has never failed me, but recently I discovered a way to make it even better. Just one more addition can make for a stock that's even richer, more flavorful, and more nutrient-dense. The best part is that you already have this ingredient in your kitchen.
Acid is the Secret to Richer, Thicker Chicken Stock
Whether it's white wine or vinegar, a touch of acid added to the simmering pot will create a richer finished product. That's because acid helps break down the cartilage and other connective tissues in the bones of the chicken, which helps speed up the formation of gelatin in the stock. The more gelatin in the stock, the more viscous, and therefore rich, it becomes. Acid also helps extract more nutrients from the bones, giving you an extra-wholesome product.
All you need to do is add a splash (about a tablespoon or two) to your stockpot when you add all the other ingredients and let everything simmer as you usually do. White wine, apple cider vinegar, and white wine vinegar are your best bets, as they won't discolor the chicken stock and also won't impart a very strong flavor to it (they'll just enhance what's already there). Lemon juice can also work, but know it will give a mild citrus flavor to the stock. You could also even add a little tomato paste, but you'll loose the signature pale yellow color of chicken stock — this would be a good option, though, if you're using the stock in a tomato-based dish.
Get a recipe: How To Make Homemade Chicken Stock
Do you use acid when making chicken stock? Which do you like best?