Sip a warm cup of homemade stock first thing in the morning, with nothing but a pinch of sea salt. We do this all the time and it makes for a great start to the day.

Makes about 4 quarts


Any combination of chicken pieces will work. Backs and wings, left over from breaking down a whole chicken, or purchased from your butcher, serve as inexpensive and effective stock meat. And this may sound odd, but chicken feet add tons of joint-protecting gelatin to the stock, which can actually make the stock "gel" in the fridge.

  • 5 quarts cold water
  • 2 Tbsp. apple-cider vinegar
  • 2 pounds bone-in chicken, any cut or size
  • 4 chicken feet, optional
  • 2 cups carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 cups celery, cut into 2-inch pieces, leaves left on
  • 2 fresh, or dried, bay leaves
  • 10 whole, black peppercorns
  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, whole and unpeeled
  • 8 sprigs parsley


    In a large-size pot, combine the cold water, apple-cider vinegar, chicken and chicken feet, if using. Allow the chicken to soak in the vinegar water for 1 hour, drawing additional calcium from the bones.

    Bring the water to a boil over high heat, uncovered. A foamy scum may develop on the surface of the stock once a rolling boil is reached. Skim this and discard. The foam is natural coagulated lipoprotein. It's not harmful but it isn't pretty, either, and may cloud the stock. Add the remaining ingredients, except the parsley, to the pot (this will be added at the very end of cooking).

    Cover and reduce the heat to low, maintaining a gentle simmer. It's important to keep the pot covered, as this allows the stock to bubble away for hours without fear of the liquid evaporating. Simmer for anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, depending on how much time you have, adjusting the heat up or down as needed. A long cooking time allows more digestion-enhancing gelatin to be released from the bones into the stock and enhances its flavor. If you have time for a 24-hour stock, occasionally check the stock and, if necessary, add more water to ensure the meat is covered. Ten minutes before removing the stock from the heat, add the parsley. Once done, remove from the heat and cool, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Strain the stock using a chinois or large-size strainer. Stock may be used immediately. However, when fully cooled in the refrigerator, any fat will rise to the surface and congeal. Use a slotted spoon to carefully scoop off the fat and set aside for reuse (it's great for sautéing vegetables or frying eggs). This step allows the cook to control the amount of fat in the final dish.

    From Back to Butter: A Traditional Foods Cookbook (Fair Winds Press) by Molly Chester and Sandy Schrecengost.

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