Omega Chicken Stock

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Chicken stock is the lifeblood of modern home cooking, so it deserves to be as flavorful as possible. This recipe was born out of frustration. I had been making stock the conventional way — chicken parts in pot, aromatics, boil, then simmer — for years. Then I started roasting the bones. Then I started using exclusively backs, carcasses and wings. But I still wasn't getting the richness I wanted consistently, not to mention how long it took. Then one day I made beef stock in it, and it was like a revelation. What normally took four to six hours took just one, and tasted just as good, if not better! Weirdly enough, I forgot about using a pressure cooker to make stock for years and only recently remembered the technique. At first the stock was pretty standard — unroasted chicken parts and aromatics — and over time I started experimenting with different aromatics to elevate the flavor. One day I had some turkey drumsticks lying around and decided to chuck them on a roasting pan with the chicken parts. It all barely fit in the pressure cooker (which is dangerous, don't do that!), but the resulting stock was rich, dark, aromatic, and full of body. Jackpot!

In many respects, this is a fairly standard roasted chicken stock, but it doesn't have to be. Of course you can substitute the aromatics: ginger, lemongrass, leek and shiso make a stellar Asian-inspired stock, while rosemary, dill, and tarragon make it more French. But you can also substitute the smoked meat. Using 2½ pounds of smoked ham hocks makes ham stock, which is indispensable for soups and greens. Using regular turkey necks and wings would make an excellent turkey stock for around the holidays. The variations are endless, and requiring under two hours, you have no excuse not to try them all.

Yields 6½ to 8 cups of stock.

Ingredients:

  • 2½ pounds chicken backbones or wings
  • 1½ pounds smoked turkey necks
  • 2 large yellow onions, the kind with the smooth brown skin
  • 4 stalks celery, optional
  • 2 large carrots, optional
  • 1 large head garlic
  • 1 bunch parsley, rinsed
  • 4 bay leaves
  • Small handful thyme
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 to 4 quarts hot water

Equipment:

  • 1 or 2 baking sheets
  • 7 to 8 quart pressure cooker
  • Fine mesh sieve and/or cheesecloth

Instructions:

  1. Heat an oven to 450°F. You want all the poultry, onion, and garlic to sit in one layer on a baking sheet, so use two if necessary. If you're putting the vegetables on a separate sheet, you will want to lightly spray with cooking spray or rub with oil to prevent sticking. Regardless of how many sheets you use, lining with foil is a great idea.
  2. Quarter the onions, leaving the skin on and root intact. If using the celery and carrots, halve widthwise. Halve the garlic horizontally. Arrange the chicken parts, turkey, onion, garlic, celery, and carrots in a single layer on the baking sheet(s).
  3. Roast in the upper third of the oven for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour, until the meat and vegetables are well colored and starting to char.
  4. In the pressure cooker, place the chicken and turkey parts, followed by the onion and garlic. Scatter the parsley, bay, and thyme over top. Add the vinegar and 3 quarts of hot water. If the pressure cooker is not full to its maximum fill level (check your cooker's instructions), add up to another quart of hot water. Bring to high pressure according to your cooker's instructions.
  5. Pressure cook on high for 45 minutes, then allow the pressure to release naturally.
  6. Strain through a sieve and/or a cheesecloth. If desired, refrigerate and skim the fat. Refrigerate and use within a week or freeze for up to 6 months.