Alton Brown's VersionPrep Time: 30 minutes Inactive Prep Time: 8 hours Cook Time: 6 hours Yield: 5 quarts
Place chicken, vegetables, and herbs and spices in 12-quart stockpot. Set opened steamer basket directly on ingredients in pot and pour over water. Cook on high heat until you begin to see bubbles break through the surface of the liquid. Turn heat down to medium low so that stock maintains low, gentle simmer. Skim the scum from the stock with a spoon or fine mesh strainer every 10 to 15 minutes for the first hour of cooking and twice each hour for the next 2 hours. Add hot water as needed to keep bones and vegetables submerged. Simmer uncovered for 6 to 8 hours.
Strain stock through a fine mesh strainer into another large stockpot or heatproof container discarding the solids. Cool immediately in large cooler of ice or a sink full of ice water to below 40 degrees. Place in refrigerator overnight. Remove solidified fat from surface of liquid and store in container with lid in refrigerator for 2 to 3 days or in freezer for up to 3 months. Prior to use, bring to boil for 2 minutes. Use as a base for soups and sauces.
Cooks Illustrated's Version
Heat oil in large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking; add onion and cook until slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Brown chicken in 2 batches, cooking on each side until lightly browned, about 5 minutes per side; transfer to bowl with onions. Return chicken and onion to pot and reduce heat to low; cover and sweat until chicken releases juices, about 20 minutes. Increase heat to high; add boiling water, salt, and bay leaves. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low; cover and simmer slowly until stock is rich and flavorful, about 20 minutes, skimming foam off surface, if desired. Strain; discard solids. Before using, defat stock.
Chicken Noodle Soup
Bring stock to boil for 2 minutes in a large, non-reactive stockpot with lid on, over high heat. Add onion, celery, and garlic. Lower heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Add noodles and cook 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and add herbs and salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with lemon halves and add squeeze of lemon juice if desired.
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