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Chicken broth and chicken stock are not the same thing, although the two terms are used interchangeably. Broth is made from either a whole chicken or pieces of chicken simmered until they are done, while stock is made by simmering the bones from a chicken for a long time until all the flavour is leached out of them into the liquid. Both broth and stock can be used as soup bases.
I often make chicken stock at home out of the leftover bones picked off of everyones dinner plates after we share a roast chicken. I throw the whole lot into a tall, narrow pot, fill it to an inch of the top with water and set it on very low heat to simmer overnight. The long simmer dissolves the gelatinous bits and breaks the bones down. In the morning the reduced stock is strained and left to cool. During cooling the fat accumulates at the top and I skim that off before freezing it or putting it in the fridge, to be used within the next two days.
The only problem with this method is my husbands complaints about the dirty gym sock smell that permeates the whole house. I like the smell because I find it comforting and it gives me great satisfaction that I am using as much of the animal as I can without wasting it.
True stock masters will simmer vegetables to help flavour their soups. I prefer to leave veggies out because I dont know what I might use the stock for and I prefer to add ingredients later.
One must be careful not to let the stock boil as this will cause it to become cloudy; instead it should be kept at a gentle simmer.
Homemade stock or broth is always better than any store bought variety, which is often flat and bland, but time is often a problem I want soup today, not two days from now. Edna Lewiss cookbook In Pursuit of Flavour has an excellent recipe for chicken broth which is made within an hour. Basically the method uses a whole chicken (about 4 pounds), hacked up into small pieces and cooked with a chopped onion until the chicken loses its pink colour. The pot is then covered and the chicken and onion are cooked over low heat until the juices are released about 20 minutes. Then water is added and simmered 20 minutes longer. The chicken pieces can be removed and once cooled, the meat separated from the bones and shredded to add to the soup or for a cold salad.
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