I always have store-bought chicken stock on hand (Swanson is my favorite; I hate the organic brands at Whole Foods). However no commercial variety has the weight and flavor to make a really great rice dish, braise, clear soup or sauce.
For years I had 10-gallon stockpots consistently simmering on my stove. Now when I need a refined, flavorful stock with sufficient weight I use my pressure cooker. Modernist Cuisine’s recipes are very precise. I have tried their technique with other chicken parts, using necks and backs for example, but for the best stock, use the wings and ground thigh meat that they specify.
To make a white chicken stock, first blanche the wings in boiling water and then rinse them in cold water. To make a brown chicken stock, roast them in a 450° oven until they are a rich brown color. It is important to prepare the bones one of these ways or your stock can have a bitter or “off” taste or be cloudy. I use a 10-quart pressure cooker, 3 pounds of ground meat, and 3 pounds of chicken wings to produce 3 quarts of stock.
The butcher counter at big markets usually carries ground chicken thighs or you can easily grind the meat at home. I use an attachment that fits onto my old KitchenAid mixer. Ground meat is the most perishable. If you want to know it’s fresh, either make friends with your butcher (always a good idea) or grind the meat yourself.
3 pounds chicken wings cut apart at their joints
3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, ground
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and cut in chunks
1 or 2 cloves garlic
3 stems fresh thyme
2 stems fresh parley
Either blanch or roast the chicken bones. Add all ingredients to the pressure cooker. Make sure the bones and vegetables are on the bottom layer since the ground meat has a tendency to stick to the pressure cooker. Add water to cover by around an inch. Make sure you do not go over the maximum fill line on your pressure cooker. Lock the top into place, use high heat to get to full pressure then turn down the flame. Let the chicken stock simmer on high pressure for 1 ½ hours. Remove from the heat. Let the pressure drop naturally, 7 to 10 minutes. Strain, chill, and lift off the fat. Store the stock in the refrigerator or freezer.
In 2010, Saveur Magazine’s test kitchen did a detailed article on pressure cooker chicken stock.