I feel I am on a mission. After somebody telling me not to post about roast chicken – how dare they. Well I posted my favourite ‘how to’ roast a chicken yesterday and I feel it is my duty to follow up. What better way than with a recipe for chicken stock.
Stock is one of those things that people tend to think is only for the cook with either too much time or lots of skill. Ok, it takes time to make stock, but not ‘active’ time. And skill? Well, if you can fill a pa with vegetables, chicken and water, then you have enough skill to make stock. It only takes you 10 minutes to set the stock going in a pan and then that’s it. Since I have started making my own stock (I do mostly chicken and vegetable), I can honestly say I’ve never looked back. I used to rely on those horrible little cubes (you know the ones) to add flavour to my soups, stews and broths, but no more, and what a difference. I think my personal light bulb moment came when I read the ingredients on the side of those mass produced stocks and it really put me off. They are basically little pellets of salt and transfats – could there be a worse combination? Yeah, maybe, I once ate a so-called dessert of marshmallows melted in the microwave poured over the ice-cream. Somebody gave it to me at a dinner party – what do you do? Anyway, chicken stock.
The other thing about stock is that it appeals to my frugal food nature – I hate to throw food away. I get a very satisfied feeling (smug actually) when I use every bit of my chicken before discarding the bones.
So, on the next rainy Sunday afternoon, put the stock on to simmer gently, get the newspapers out and kick back.
Chicken Stock Recipe
Ingredients for about 30 frozen ice-cubed sized blocks or soup, stew, or broth for about 15 to 20 portions
Carcass of one chicken (all bones and skin)
1 x large onion, quartered and studded with 5 x cloves
1 x leek cleaned well and cut into 4 pieces
2 x large garlic cloves, crushed with skin
3 x celery stalks (or celery heart) chopped in 3 parts
2 x large carrot chopped in 3 large pieces
3 x bay leaves
1 x handful of thyme
4 or 5 sprigs of rosemary
1 x small handful of black peppercorns
2 x tsps of salt
If you have roasted a chicken on top of onion or other vegetables and herbs, put this all into your stock pan too.
- Place all the above ingredients in your biggest pan, and cover with water from a recently boiled kettle.
- Bring to the boil and then turn to a gentle simmer for at least 2 hours.
- Squeeze and mash the stock with a potato masher a few times, just to release as much flavour as possible.
- Strain the mixture, making sure it is clear, place it back in the pan and boil until it reduces to about a third of its original volume. The amount you reduce kind of depends on how you are going to store it. If you want to make iced cubes as this recipe suggests, you can reduce further, but you may wish to use it straight away for soup or another recipe in which case I usually go by taste. When the reduction has reached the concentration off taste that I want, I stop there.
- It will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, but if you want to keep it, portion it out and freeze it.
Tips and Variations
- My stock actually starts when I am roasting a chicken. Underneath the chicken in the oven, I place thickly sliced, one onion, maybe a couple of crushed garlic cloves. Then I cover the bottom of the roasting tin with water, so that this chicken is on top of the onion, and not in the water.
- Use other parts of vegetables to create this stock. For example, I often use broccoli stalks. They are packed with flavour, and it’s better than throwing them away. Basically any leftover vegetables, or vegetables that are not looking their best are great.
- When reducing, to decide on the amount, I usually think about what I want to use it for, how concentrated I want the flavour and also how much space I have in the freezer. I find the best way is to reduce until it fills an ice-cube tray (or two) this gives me handy little blocks of flavour that I can drop into any soups or stews. Once frozen, I empty the cubes into freezer bags.
- If you reduce it too much by volume, it won’t freeze properly – I think because of fat content.
- I sometimes skip the freezing in ice-cube containers and just pour (once cooled) a little stock into freezer bags and place those directly in the freezer or small Tupperware containers.