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Monday, 9 January 2012

Duck Stock

Some might say that making your own duck stock takes too long, costs too much and that you should just buy Campbell's chicken stock for a dollar a can and add half a veggie bouillon cube ... and they're probably right.  However, I'm willing to bet that if you try it, you'll never go back.  Why? Because chicken stock is for peasants.  Kings eat duck stock!  Do you want to eat like a peasant?  I didn't think so.

Class warfare aside, duck stock is to chicken stock as duck is to ... well to chicken.  It's vaguely similar but more flavorful and hearty.  Duck stock is ideal for those times where you want more oomph than chicken stock but don't want to overpower other flavors in the dish as beef stock might.  I use it when cooking hearty veggies, risottos and soups. Of course if you have a leftover chicken or even turkey, this recipe works just fine.

1 leftover bird carcass with almost all meat removed
2 stalked celery roughly chopped
2 carrots peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic diced
2 cooking onions
6 cups water
1 lemon wedge
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp salt (you may well need more as stock ALWAYS takes more salt than you think)
1 tsp each thyme, sage, rosemary and smashed black peppercorns (if you're using ground pepper only use 1/2 tsp)

Put the bird carcass in a 400F oven for about 30 minutes to brown the bones.  The goal is to brown the bones as much as possible without burning them so you can go lower and slower if you like.  The meat will all dry out and start to look like duck jerky but that's okay because you're not eating it.

When the bones are browned, add the olive oil to the pot and sweat the veggies over high heat for ~5 minutes.  You should get them just to the point where they start to smell AMAZING but not really any further.

When the aromatics are sweated, add in the herbs, pepper and half the salt.  Stir for a few minutes and then add the duck carcass, water and the lemon wedge, cover and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, turn down to a simmer, skim the foam from the top and cook for 1-2 hours, topping up with water periodically if the bird becomes uncovered.  After the first 20 minutes taste the stock and season with salt as necessary.  It should taste only slightly salty as the saltiness will increase as the stock reduces.

When done, remove from heat and let cool.  Line a chinois or other large strainer with cheese cloth to filter out all the bits (If you don't have any, just use your strainer and pour slowly to leave all the heavy bits at the bottom of the pot).  Discard the filtered bits and transfer the stock to containers and refrigerate or freeze.

If you've got limited freezer space then a great trick is to further reduce the stock by half or more and then freeze it in ice cube trays.  You can then reconstitute the stock cubes in a cup of water or drop the cubes into your dishes when cooking to add a huge flavour boost.


  1. I often use a coffee filter to strain stock. One of those portable cone holders and a paper liner makes a good job of it - particularly if your stock is not reduced too much. You end up with almost clear broth after it runs through the paper filter.

  2. Excellent piece of advice. I'm definitely going to do that next time.

  3. Stocks should be boiled for 6 hours at minimum in order to fully benefit from making your own stock (minerals, geletin, etc.)...just thought I'd share.