Makes about 4 quarts
In a large stockpot, put in the chickens and all ingredients except the salt and pepper. Add just enough fresh cold water to cover. Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, regularly skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat and gently simmer, partially covered, until the chicken meat easily falls off the bones, about 8 hours.
Remove the pot from the heat and leave at room temperature until cool enough to handle. Strain through a cheesecloth-lined colander into a large bowl. Gradually add salt and pepper to taste.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate for a few hours. Remove and discard the layer of fat solidified on the top. Divide the stock into containers for immediate use or for freezing.
Homemade chicken stock tastes so much better than store-bought that it’s worth the extra effort. An essential staple in the kitchen of any good restaurant, it should be essential for any good home cook, too—particularly if you like to make homemade soups. I’ve adapted my favorite version from the one Ina Garten features in most of her cookbooks. The main difference is that I simmer until the chicken meat falls easily from the bone, usually about 8 hours, and sometimes I turn off the range before bed and let the warm pot continue to simmer slowly overnight. I think the extra cooking time provides an even richer flavor.
2 (5-pound) roasting chickens, any giblet packets removed
2 large yellow onions, unpeeled and quartered
4 carrots, unpeeled and halved
2 celery stacks, halved
3 parsnips, unpeeled and halved
10 sprigs fresh thyme
10 sprigs fresh dill
2 leeks, roots trimmed, dark green leaves removed, split lengthwise and thoroughly rinsed clean
1½ tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns