If you’ve ever wondered why restaurant dishes taste so much richer than what you make at home, a roasted, concentrated chicken stock is the likely answer. Thankfully, rich, homemade chicken stock is easy to make at home, and will instantly elevate your home cooking. It makes the biggest difference in exceptional gravies and sauces, soups and stews, braises and glazes. With a mostly hands-off method, it couldn’t be easier to make—and a batch can last for months. A slow cooker makes homemade stock even more effortless. Let it cook overnight or while you’re out for the day.
Spread in a single layer with the vegetables for even roasting. Wings have plenty of collagen, which gives the stock body. Browning in the oven intensifies their meaty taste and caramelized natural sugars in the veggies for a deep, sweet flavor. After browning, place chicken and veggies in a Dutch oven or slow cooker.
Set over medium-high heat, and scrape with a wooden spatula or spoon. This technique, called deglazing, releases the baked-on, deeply browned bits that are packed with concentrated flavor. The bits, also called fond, are as key to the stock’s rich flavor as the browned wings and veggies. Add this liquid to the Dutch oven or slow cooker.
Simmer, uncovered in a 225°F oven or in your slow cooker, covered, on LOW for 8 hours. The fresh herbs, bay leaves, and peppercorns impart another layer of flavor to the stock as it cooks slowly. The low oven and slow cooker temp keeps the liquid from boiling, reducing it just slightly while extracting maximum flavor from the solid ingredients.
Drain completely, resisting the urge to press the wings and vegetables to squeeze out any additional liquid—this will release particulates that make the stock cloudy and muddy the flavor. Once the strained stock has chilled, a solid layer of fat will form on top, which you can easily skim to make the stock practically fat-free.
Making your own chicken stock pays off in huge ways; the flavor is simply outstanding, especially if you roast the chicken and vegetables first. We call for chicken wings, but you can also use an equivalent weight of meaty backbones. The overnight oven method is a foolproof technique that also means there’s no standing over a hot stockpot, constantly skimming. Store stock in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. To freeze, portion into muffin cups and freeze until firm, then transfer to a large ziplock plastic freezer bag and freeze, using as needed.