This broth is best made with drumsticks or wings because they are the chicken parts with the most flavor and natural gelatin. But you can also cut up whole chickens, which are often less expensive than chicken parts, and use either all the parts or everything except the breasts, saving them for another use. As a general rule, a 3-pound whole chicken or 3 pounds of chicken parts will yield a quart of brown broth.
– Two 3-pound chickens, or 6 pounds chicken wings, drumsticks, and/or backs (backs should be chopped up into at least 3 pieces with a cleaver).
– 1 large onion, root end trimmed and then quartered without peeling.
– 3 carrots, unpeeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced.
– 1 stalk celery, sliced (optional).
– 1 handful of fennel stalks (optional).
– 3 quarts cold water or more as needed to cover.
– Bouquet garni.
Step 1:If you are using whole chickens, cut them up. Separate the drumsticks from the thighs, cut each of the single breasts in half, and cut the backs into 3 pieces. If you are using only chicken backs, or backs combined with other parts, cut each back into 3 pieces with a cleaver.
Step 2:Spread the chicken parts and all the vegetables in a heavy-bottomed roasting pan just large enough to hold them in a single layer. (If the pan is too large, the juices will burn; if it’s too small, the chicken won’t brown properly.) Slide the pan into the oven and turn the oven to 400°F. Roast, stirring the chicken and vegetables a couple of times as they cook so they brown evenly and thoroughly, for about 1½ hours.
Step 3:Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a pot—ideally narrow and tall tofacilitate skimming—and put the roasting pan on the stove top over high heat. Pour about 2 cups of water into the roasting pan, bring to a boil, and deglaze the pan, scraping up the browned-on juices from the bottom with a wooden spoon. Pour the liquid into the pot. Add enough water to the pot to cover the chicken and vegetables, and nestle the bouquet garni in the middle of the pot.
Step 4:Bring to a gentle simmer and simmer uncovered for 1½ hours, skimming off the froth with a ladle every 15 minutes or so. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean container, let cool for 1 hour at room temperature, and then cover and refrigerate. Before using, pull off the fat that has congealed on top and discard. The broth will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or 6 months in the freezer. If boiled every 5 days, it will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator.