I used chicken stock to help liquefy a marinade that I made, and I mentioned it to Tommy, of the justifiably famous tommy:eats. He commented that he has become more inclined to move away from commercial stock, in part because of his taste tests (he is braver than I) and because of some reading that he has done. It occurred to me that I can’t even remember when I last purchased stock, and that’s because it is trivially easy to make, especially because I have been spatchcocking chickens for many recipes for quite some time; that leaves me with the backs all ready to go into the pot. Also, Tommy is correct, the taste of commercial stock leaves much to be desired.
There are so many good recipes for stock that I would be silly to suggest that one is significantly better than another, ignoring, of course, the fact that my stock is the best. The Balthazar cook book has a nice recipe, but really, it’s a simple thing to make.
I use a big pot with a pasta insert so I can separate the solids from the liquid very easily. Start with the raw chicken scraps (bones are vital) in cold water, bring to a boil, skim off the top so that your end result is nice and clear, toss in equal parts unpeeled onion, celery and carrot, and that’s it! Some recipes call for parsley and bay leaf and pepper and all sorts of stuff, but I prefer to make a basic stock; it is simply more useful. If you like, you can roast the chicken for 30 minutes or so; that will change the flavor of the stock . . . it is just as good, but different.
After several hours of gentle simmering I will lift out the pasta insert, pour the stock through a chinois, return it to a simmer to reduce a bit, and then pour into containers of various sizes. It freezes well, although for some reason, most recipes say something insane like “lasts for up to three months in the freezer.” That makes no sense. Why wouldn’t it last indefinitely? I’ll never know, because each year, I go through about 5 gallons of the stuff, and I have never kept it for longer than six months, and it seemed perfect, so….
Just make your own stock. It’s easy, it tastes better, it is frugal (no more throwing away chicken scraps), and it makes you a better cook. And when your irritating and pompous 2nd cousin with the double ovens and the copper cookware shows up at your house for Thanksgiving dinner, you can point out that your wonderful soup was made with homemade chicken stock. Hopefully, that will shut her up for a few minutes.