How do you make a gallon of homemade, uber flavorful, super rich chicken stock for just pennies? First start with the leftover carcasses of two roasted chickens - skin, bones, pan dripping, the works (neck bones and giblets too, but no livers please).
I used the worlds juiciest oven-roasted chickens ever for this batch, but rotisserie chickens work wonderfully as well. I'll spare you a photo of the carcasses :), but put all the icky bits in a really big stock pot; I like a 12-quart, heavy duty.
Incidentally, you can make this stock with uncooked chicken, it just won't be nearly as colorful, and it won't be quite as flavorful, but hey, it'll still be way better than the canned stuff.
Additionally, you'll need 3 peeled carrots, the leafy top 2 inches of a bunch of celery, 2 jumbo onions, 1 head of garlic (yes a whole head), 15-ish peppercorns (no salt yet), 2 large bay leaves (Turkish please, California bay is way too strong), and a good palm full of dried parsley; like 2 tablespoons (or a bunch of fresh parsley stems if you happen to have them). I'll also add the following if I have them on hand - mushroom stems, a few sun-dried tomatoes, scallion trimmings, parsnips, leek trimmings, etc.
Okay, time to prep the veg - chop the onions into big chunks, leaving the skins on - they add wonderful color. Cut the head of garlic right in half - skin and all. Use the top 2 inches of the celery bunch and the white inside stalks and leaves (lots of yummy flavor there). Peel and trim the carrots and chop into 1-inch piece.
Now throw everybody into the stock pot and cover with water. Crank up the heat and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to barely simmering (if you're making this with raw chicken, you may want to skim the scum off the surface after 15 or 20 minutes). Simmer, uncovered, for at least 2 hours, but you can let it go for as long as 10 or 12 hours; add more water if you need to, but if you're simmering on a low enough heat, and you're using good heavy stock pot, you shouldn't need to. Warning: Your house is going to smell amazing!
Mmmmm... see how the onion skins have turned almost a mahogany color? That color equals tons of flavor. Yum!
Now strain all the bones and veggies out of this rich, nutritious, delicious liquid gold.
Be happy I didn't post a photo of that step - not pretty!
Now, add salt to taste (very important!), and there you go... the most amazing homemade stock imaginable. So easy to make and SO much better than anything you can get at the store... and let's not even attempt to compare it's virtues against that other stuff... you know... that stuff called bullion (please don't say that word out loud - there are impressionable children all around).
You can easily cut this recipe in half, but why make a little when you can make a lot. Did I mention it costs mere pennies to make a gallon of this stuff? Literally, this huge batch of stock cost me less than a buck. You can't even think about buying a vastly inferior can of the grocery store stuff for less than a buck, forget about 8 cans. Stock your freezer, and you'll never have to settle for less again! Stay tuned for my quick and easy chicken noodle soup.