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Rich Homemade Chicken Stock

Liquid gold.

2 quarts stock, plus 12 to 14 ounces poached chicken breast


About 15 minutes to prep and about 3 hours total to cook, plus cooling and chilling


No working kitchen should be without reserve of frozen homemade chicken stock. Your own stock will triumph in flavor and performance any store-bought equivalent.

Cooking Remarks

This recipe simmers an entire chicken for more than 2 hours to extract every bit of its collagen and flavor. Instead of simply dropping a whole bird into the pot with the other ingredients, we break it down it into pieces first. It’s a little more work, yes, but this makes it easy to pull just the breast out of the pot when it’s perfectly cooked so the meat can be reserved for another use. Two perfectly poached chicken breasts are plenty to shred, dice, or slice to make chicken salad, soup, or sandwiches.

equipment mise en place

For this recipe, you will need a heavy-bottomed 7- to 8-quart stockpot, a large fine-mesh strainer, and a large heatproof bowl.

    • 1
      (3- to 4-pound) whole chicken
    • 3
      medium yellow onions, peeled and chopped
    • 3
      small carrots, peeled and chopped
    • 3
      medium celery ribs, chopped

    • 6
      garlic cloves, peeled and halved
    • 8
      fresh thyme sprigs or 2 teaspoons dried thyme

    • 8
      fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
 and stems
    • 1
      Turkish bay leaf

    • quarts spring or filtered water

    Using a chef’s knife, cut the leg quarters from the chicken and add them to a heavy-bottomed 7- to 8-quart stockpot. Remove each wing where it is attached to the breast; toss them into the pot. Using sturdy kitchen shears, cut free the whole breast from the back of the bird, then add these pieces to the pot.


    Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook gently, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain an active but gentle simmer, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 140 to 145 degrees, about 15 minutes; the timing may vary depending on the size of your bird and the shape and weight of your pot. Remove the pot from the heat and let cool for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The internal temperature of the breast will climb to about 160 degrees.


    Using tongs, transfer just the breast to a large plate and set aside until cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, return to the pot’s contents to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce to medium heat and continue to cook, adjusting the burner as needed to maintain a gentle simmer.


    When the breast is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and slip it back to the pot. Remove the meat from the bones, keeping each breast intact; return the bones to the pot. Let the breasts cool, then refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days; the meat can be shredded, sliced, or diced and used as you like.


    When the stock is rich and flavorful—2 to 2½ hours after it has returned to a simmer—strain it through a large fine-mesh strainer into a large heatproof bowl; discard the solids in the strainer. You should have about 2 quarts. (If you have less, add water to equal 2 quarts; if you have more, return the stock to the stockpot and simmer until it is reduced to about 2 quarts.) Let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until the fat congeals on the surface, at least 3 hours, or for up to 2 days. Before using, skim off and discard the congealed fat from the surface. For longer storage, the stock can be frozen for up to 1 month.