I have never been able to get on the meal planning bandwagon. I certainly appreciate how valuable it is for making grocery shopping easier, effortless, and cost-effective. I also understand how sanity-saving it is to know exactly what is on the menu for the week. However, I’m always apprehensive about planning meals days in advance because…what if I’m not really in the mood to eat that meal once the day arrives? That said, I don’t fly by the seat of my pants with mealtimes, either. I just take a less structured approach to deciding what we will eat for dinner throughout the week. Instead of writing down a menu for the week, I keep track of the ingredients I have on hand, and plan our meals around those things, taking care to use up the fresh produce first. I may not be a fan of meal planning, but I am a huge believer in a well-stocked pantry–this not only means the place where you store dry goods, but also includes the refrigerator and freezer. Today I’m going tell you about my recipe for Instant Pot chicken stock, one of my must-have’s for your freezer, and a “basics” recipe to keep in your recipe files.
It may currently be all the rage to use the term “bone broth”, but I have never liked it because it’s contradictory and trendy. Bone broth is stock. The difference between stock and broth is simple: stock is made with bones that have been stripped of their meat and is more viscous in consistency because of the collagen that seeps from the bones during the long cooking process. It yields a liquid that is richly flavored, and can become gelatinous once it’s been refrigerated. Broth is is traditionally made with boneless cuts of meat, doesn’t change in consistency when refrigerated, and is milder in flavor.
For the longest time after I was married and still learning to cook, I used store-bought stock–which is perfectly fine–I still buy it today to have on hand when I need larger quantities or am short on time. A few years ago though, I decided to start making my own chicken stock to store in the freezer and I haven’t stopped making it since. Whenever I make roast chicken, I freeze the carcass. I also wash and save parsley stems, celery stalk tops, and the outer layers of fennel bulbs, and add them to a freezer bag labeled “stock scraps”. Once I have at least two chicken carcasses and half a bag full of clean stock scraps, I set aside some time to make stock–except instead of cooking it on the stovetop, I now make it in my Instant Pot and I love the results. I don’t think I will ever make chicken stock on the stovetop again!
One of the biggest benefits of using the Instant Pot to make chicken stock is that it is completely hands-off once the pressure cooker is closed and turned on. Unlike cooking chicken stock on the stovetop, there is no need to monitor the level of the water to ensure that too much liquid isn’t evaporating, or to spoon off any of the “scum” that rises to the surface of the stock as it cooks.
It’s taken me a while (like, over a year) to warm up to my Instant Pot. I bought it with near-certainty that I would promptly return it because I can do everything it does on the stove or in the oven! Who needs another gadget taking up space in the cupboard?! I did nothing but look at it on the top shelf of my pantry for months after I bought it and chastised myself for falling for a kitchen fad. Except the pressure cooker is far from being a fad. It’s simply a kitchen appliance that people have used for years (but is now much safer) and makes quick work of longer-cooking recipes. Consider me converted. I am glad I decided to keep it because the Instant Pot has proven to be a more efficient way to cook my favorite staple ingredients like rice, dried beans (no pre-soaking!), and chicken stock. I recently ventured into making soup in it, and am loving it for that, too. I’m still very much “old school” when it comes to cooking, but adding a pressure cooker to my kitchen has been both fun and convenient for those days when the time I can spend in the kitchen is limited, but I still want to make the staples I use often in my cooking.
I changed things up slightly for this chicken stock recipe by adding several beef marrow bones to the ingredient list and I liked the results. I roasted the bones briefly (to caramelize their natural sugars) before adding them to the pressure cooker with the rest of the stock components. Adding beef marrow bones is certainly optional, but I found that they added a richer flavor to the stock without overpowering the chicken flavor.
As for the vegetables, I always leave the onion peel on because it adds a beautiful golden color to the stock; I peel the carrots because I save them to eat once the stock is cooked (they’re delicious!); and I always add in parsley stems and the leafy tops from a bunch of celery because they are loaded with fresh flavor. A few black peppercorns also add subtle flavor without the spiciness. You can certainly modify the vegetables and aromatics you add to your stock to customize it to your liking. Some other ingredients you can add are fresh thyme, fresh dill, fresh garlic, fresh ginger, or star anise pods. Experiment to see what suits your taste preferences.
For this recipe, I cooked the chicken stock for four hours at high pressure because the beef marrow bones were substantial, and I wanted to extract as much flavor, collagen, and minerals from them as possible. I thought they would have softened during the cooking process, but they remained as rock-hard as they were when they were raw, but they still imparted delicious flavor to the stock. The bones you add to stock will never completely disintegrate, but the more they break down, the more collagen is released into the stock which adds both flavor and nutrients. If you are only using chicken bones, you can have a fragrant batch of chicken stock in one to one and a half hours. Four hours was probably over-kill and I could have cooked it for half that time, but it didn’t adversely affect the end result. I got a richly flavored, golden, fragrant stock that is now stocked in my freezer ready to use in my favorite Italian recipes.Print
You will notice that salt is not an ingredient in my recipe for chicken stock (including my stove top recipe). This is because I prefer to add salt to the recipes I make using the chicken stock so that I do not over-salt the finished dish.
- 2 pounds (907 grams) beef marrow bones, thawed if frozen
- 1 roasted chicken carcass
- 1 large yellow onion, washed and cut in half (keep peel on)
- 2 large celery stalks, washed, tough ends trimmed off
- 2 large carrots, washed, peeled, tough ends trimmed off
- Large handful fresh parsley (with stems), washed thoroughly
- Outer layer of 2 fennel bulbs, washed
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- Preheat the oven to 450 (232).
- Place the beef marrow bones on a baking sheet (not touching), and roast for 10-15
minutes, turning once, until they are browned on all sides and fragrant. Remove the bones
from the oven and transfer them to the Instant Pot insert.
- Add in the roasted chicken carcass, onion halves, celery, carrots, parsley, fennel, and black
- Cover all the ingredients with cold water up to the ⅔ level in the Instant Pot insert.
- Close and lock the lid into place and turn the pressure valve to sealing. Select pressure
cook and press the button repeatedly until Normal is highlighted on the display. Press the
pressure level button until High is highlighted. Using the + and – buttons, set the cooking
time to 4 hours (or 2 hours if you prefer). Once you hear a beep, the Instant Pot has
started preheating (this took 35 minutes for my Instant Pot). The cooking time will start
counting down once the Instant Pot has come to full pressure (the stainless steel float
valve will be completely raised), and you will hear a beep and see the cooking time
counting down on the LCD display.
- At the end of the cooking time, allow the pressure to release naturally for 1 hour. If the
float valve has not dropped after 1 hour, release the pressure manually following the
- Carefully remove and discard all the bones and vegetable solids from the broth. Once the
insert is cool enough to handle, carefully lift it out of the housing and strain the chicken
stock through a fine mesh sieve into a large heat-proof bowl (such as a stainless steel
mixing bowl) and allow it to cool to room temperature before refrigerating or freezing.
Storage: Chicken stock will keep for 3-4 days refrigerated in a tightly closed container, or up to 6 months frozen.
Note: You may notice a layer of fat that solidifies on the surface of the chicken stock after it has been refrigerated. Use a spoon to remove and discard the fat before using the stock.
Keywords: gluten-free, instant pot