Jody over at Spring Garden Acre asked me about the chicken stock I make and use in soups, stews, etc... It was a little too long to put into a response posting, so here it is. The easiest chicken stock you will ever make, you will never buy store stuff again!
Chicken bones (either one whole roasted chix carcass or the equivalent in leg bones, wings, etc. You could also make beef stock this same way, just roast your beef bones in the oven so they have some good yummy color on them)
3 carrots, choppped up however (I dont even peel them, just make sure there isn't any dirt)
3 celery stalks, chopped up
3 or 4 onions chopped up (I leave the skins on, and my onions are usually fairly small, but more onion is not a bad thing!)
1 whole garlic head (just chopped in half across the cloves, no need to take off the skin here either)
About 10 whole peppercorns
Salt to taste, about 1 Tbs
About a good big handful or 2 of fresh herbs (I use whatever is on hand, rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley (if you dont have fresh, just use dried herbs, no biggie... You would want about 3 or 4 Tbs, although more is just fine too)
Here is the easy part. Just chuck everything into a big stock pot (mine is 12 qts), cover with water, turn on the heat, and let her go all day. Bring it to a boil, and then turn the heat down to a nice gentle simmer. Repeat, GENTLE SIMMER. You don't want the veggies to break up and get gross and mushy. SO anyways, after it has cooked for hours on end (seriously, like 8 hours), the chicken bones should easily break in half. Use a small bone for testing, such as a wing bone. Leg bones will never break apart. Strain the solids out (if you have one of those fancy pasta cooker inserts for your stock pot, that makes everything A LOT easier to get out.) After all of the big particulate matter is out, I pour it through a fine mesh strainer just to make sure all of the herb leaves and peppercorns are out. I usually get about 4-6 quarts, depending on what the solid-liquid ratio is inside the stock pot. I store my stock in plastic containers in the freezer.
***Note*** DO NOT try to strain this stock while it is hot... I learned that one the hard way. I usually just let this sit out for a day until is it cooled. Bonus if it is winter and snowy, you can just set it outside for a couple hours until is it cooled.