We’ve all heard about umami (if not, where were you when I stood in front of the nutrition/menu planning class giving a 5 minute PRAISE to umami and all forms of glutamate? your bad indeed). It’s the ‘savouriness’ of the dish. Another way I like to describe it is the ‘highest element of deliciousness’ - which how I feel about chicken stock.
And yea I know, I hate making it too. Restaurant history reminds how it feels to strain 30 litre pots of stock and being splashed with meaty goodness as you use a baking rack as your strainer.
But, you’re home, a cute 7-8 litre pot will do you well. You can have it bubbling away whilst worrying about how rodents can come attack you in your shoebox apartment (my favourite pastime hobby) What’s great about stock is how you create a large about, save what you’ll use in a week, and have the others in jars, labelled, neatly placed in your freezer (because freezers are always so organised and into place). Here are some clues, hints, and basic recipe (that you can play with/edit yourself) :)
Ways to use chicken stock:
adding it to soup base or making the stock the base and adding veggies/meat to it!
‘deglazing’ - just think of using stock as adding another layer or salty/umami delicious ness in anything. So next time you’re sautéing mushrooms… you’ve got to try this!
adding it to stews/curries/sauces
anything (most things) that ask to add water to a cooking step, you’re might be able to add stock instead. But you have to remember it is (usually) flavoursome, so beware not to overseason. (hello chicken stock in my pilaf - come on now!)
experiment! Make sure its a broth you love (so taste it! love it! add it to everything!)
If using raw chicken bones, place in cold water, allow it to reach boiling point. Turn down heat and let simmer for 15 mins. Drain, and then refill with aromats to create stock.
You can poach a whole chicken , remove the meat, place the bones back and make a stock with them (hello, killing a bird with two stones)
You can roast bones/vegetables and then make this into a stock. Though this ‘deepens’ the flavour, which might be a little too intense for some … it is AMAZING in super hearty meals. (think mushroom risotto with a very deep brown chicken stock. I. Know!) That, or when you add all ingredients to a stock pot, let it brown a little, deglaze with some white wine, and then add the water. Psst, like there’s a ‘right’ way to cook anything, hey? #youdoyou
Adding feet, necks and heads of chicken make the most gelatinous broths! But if you can’t find them (or you’re freaked…. which makes me question questions, but I won’t ask) adding wings with the carcass will help thicken as well.
Just add any vegetable you want, but if it tastes funky or looks funky… I wouldn’t (you know?) * dried porcini mushrooms are pretty great add on (if you’ve got disposable income for days)
The best stocks are done low and slow (6-8hrs). Save it for one of those ‘caving at home’ days. (though you can let it do its thing, it’ll only needs your attention for a few moments)
if 8-10 L stockpot is not something you have (Im just saying… they cost $12 at chinese supermarkets), you can halve the recipe and make it in your largest saucepan.
Fat will rise to the top after refrigerated, don’t bin it! Use it!! Use it all! (brussel sprouts cooked in chicken fat? yes!)
clues to the adventure
3 kgs of chicken bones (or a combination of carcass/wings/necks/feet)
5-7 L water (enough to fill the large pot)
2 medium onions, quarted
1 celery stalk , roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 fennel, roughly chopped - you can include the stems
5 cloves of garlic (or more…)
2cm chunk of ginger
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp red or black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
a few sprigs of ‘hard herbs’ (think thyme, rosemary, sage)
1 lemon, halved
2 tsp salt (and additional 2-4 tsp of salt at the end to taste/finish)
the game plan
place bones in a large 8-9L pot (the higher the walls, the better)
Add all other aromas/ingredients.
Fill pot with water.
Bring to boil,then lower heat to medium (a mild simmer)
Simmer for at least 4-5 hrs. Remove any ‘scum’ (white foamy bits) that surfaces. It should reduce atleast by a quarter of the volume you first started with. If it’s reducing too fast, add more water.
Taste and season (does it need more salt? lemon juice? vinegar? pepper?) allow stock to cool down to room temperature
Strain and transfer to individual storage compartments/jars. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight (the fat will rise to the top - which can skim off… or use!)
Enjoy the ‘secret ingredient’.