For years I was a bit intimidated by the idea of making my own chicken stock. Mostly this was due to only finding over-complicated instructions on how to prepare stock; the copious amounts of chicken carcasses some recipes expect you to have lying about; never actually having bought a chicken with giblets in; and also not having a clue where to buy muslin from (a lot of recipes recommend you drain the stock through muslin cloth).
Anyway, last year I finally decided to bite the bullet and make some stock from scratch, all by myself. Here’s what I learnt: you can freeze left-over carcasses from a roast dinner to use later; giblets aren’t a necessity, just a bonus if you have them; and I still don’t know where to buy muslin from, I just use a really fine sieve and it does the job.
The only thing that is important is to use the biggest pan you have. A large pasta/steamer pan is good, or specific stock pan is even better, but if you only have a large saucepan that’s fine, just use one carcass.
This makes a fairly light stock, with a delicate chickeny flavour. This stock great used in slowed-cooked chicken and pork dishes that allow the flavours to develop even more. Look out for some recipes I’ll be blogging over the next few weeks that this stock is perfect for.
If you want a darker, deeper flavoured chicken stock first roast off the carcasses and vegetables in a preheated oven (200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6) for about 20-30 minutes, making sure they don’t burn or else your stock will just taste of burnt. After the stock is cooked and strained return it to the pan and reduce by a third, or until the strength you want.
Once you’ve made the stock, divide it into containers (I use the small foil ones) and freeze until you need it.
Roast chicken carcass (skin removed) – 1-3 depending on the size of pan (it should be about half full)
Onions – 1-2 (peeled and quartered)
Carrots – 2-3 large (peeled and cut in half)
Leeks – 1-2 medium (peeled and cut into three)
Celery – 2-3 stalks (cut into three)
Mushrooms – 2-3 (quartered)
Herbs – 1 bay leaf, and whatever else you fancy (dried tarragon (1 tsp) and a few sprigs of fresh parsley and thyme are good)
Black peppercorns – 8-10
Cold water – enough to fill the pan to just below the rim.
Equipment: Knife, the largest pan you have, large metal spoon, fine sieve, large bowl, ladle, jug, plastic or foil containers.
- Put all the ingredients in the pan and bring to the boil.
- Turn the pan down to a very slow simmer. Skim off any fat or scum (the tiny white bubbles that form) from the surface with a metal spoon.
- Simmer for at least 2 hours, but the longer the better (I usually leave it for 6), just make sure the carcasses remain covered by the water (you can top it up with more cold water if it reduces too quickly). You may need to skim the surface from time to time.
- Place the sieve over the bowl and ladle the stock into the sieve, discarding the remnants of the carcass and vegetables.
- Leave to cool and remove any fat that rises to the surface of the stock.
- Ladle into a jug to make it easier to divide between the containers and freeze.
- Defrost as needed, or reheat from frozen in a pan.