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Wednesday, November 02, 2005 

Making Smoked Chicken Stock

One of my readers - possibly my only reader! :-D - WhiteTrashBBQ, left a comment asking me to talk about making smoked chicken stock. His experience has been that the smoked flavor is too intense. I doubt I'm doing anything altogether different than anyone else, but the key may lie in how the stock is used.

Cooking the Stock

The basic ingredients are:

  • Smoked Chicken Carcass (the more of these, the better the stock).

  • Onion

  • Carrot

  • Any other veggies that are appropriate for stock, such as leeks, chives, garlic, some root veggies.

  • The chicken carcasses usually have the thigh and drumstick meat left on them, because we have a tendency to use the breast meat in other dishes. The meat adds extra flavor, I think, and it can be picked through and harvested after you've stocked it.

    The veggies do not need to be peeled, just make sure they're free of any dirt. I usually halve or quarter the onions, peel on. I roughly cut up the carrots as well. Garlic goes in whole clove form.

    I use a pretty big pot for my stock, I'm not sure how big it is, probably at least an 8-10 gallons. I fill the pot about half full with water and put the carcasses and veggies in. I let the water come to a boil for about an hour, and then put it on simmer and let it go, adding water as needed. Depending on our time constraints, we'll often let the stock cook for more than 24 hours!

    When the chicken and veggies have truly fallen apart, and the stock is a cloudy amber color, it's pretty much done. Strain out the chicken and veggies. Sometimes I'll put the stock back on the stove and reduce it further depending on how strong it tastes. Reducing it, of course, intensifies the flavor.


    In general, I don't find the smoke flavor to be too overpowering. However, as I indicated, I think it depends on how you use it. When I store it, I put it in quart size containers. One of those containers is enough stock for a good sized soup. When I reuse the stock, I add additional water to the soup mixture, which would certainly tone-down the smoked flavor. As a general rule, my soups come out with a nice subtle smoke flavor.

    One other comment regarding the type of poultry used - I think that Turkey is a far better beast to stock. When I compare stocks I've made with chicken vs. the same made with turkey, the turkey stock always has greater depth, better color, and a deeper flavor.

    I have also tried stocking smoked beef bones, which was very good; as well as smoked pork bones, which turned out to be too greasy.

    It may be that one of the reasons that I have good success with my stock is that all of our poultry is homegrown. Having lived on a farm for the past 8 years, I can assure you that the poultry raised by my wife, Farmer Girl, is far better tasting than anything you can get at your local grocery store. It may be the quality of the meat that makes for better quality stock.

    Ways to use your stock

    Regardless of whether your stock is from smoked poultry or not, I find many uses for it. Here are some ideas:

  • As a base for gravy in chicken and dumplings or pot pie.

  • As a base for any soup, chili or stew.

  • As a base for the "sop" I use to keep my beef brisket moist while smoking (it adds extra fat and flavor!)

  • I'm sure there are other uses that I haven't even considered. I hope this has been helpful!