Perfect for soups and sauces
This is a recipe for light chicken stock which you can use for soups or any recipe that calls for chicken stock. It can be reduced by boiling to a very strong rich stock which you can pour into an ice cube tray, freeze and use as a stock cube. This recipe is for the carcass of one chicken, its wings and the end joints of its leg. It makes about a 700 millilitres of light stock.
PREPARING THE CHICKEN
1. Take a nice free-range, or organic chicken and remove the legs, thighs, and breast. Cut the last joint of each leg and place it in a large saucepan. Put the rest of the legs, thighs, and breast in the fridge, you don’t need them for stock.
2. Remove the wings and give them a couple of chops with a chopper, not cutting through, but cracking the bone. Place these in the large saucepan or stockpot, together with the leg-ends already there, and the carcass, chopped into four pieces.
GETTING RID OF THE SCUM
This is a necessary process as otherwise the stock will taste bitter. There are two methods: the traditional western way, and the Chinese way – both work.
a. Traditional Method
Fill the saucepan with water to cover the chicken and bring to the boil over a high heat. As it starts to bubble a white froth will come to the surface together with brown scum. As this starts to appear ladle it into a separate bowl with a skimming spoon, or a spoon with fine holes. When you have skimmed off as much as you can and the stock is boiling, turn off the heat.
b. Chinese Method
Place the chicken carcass, wings and leg tips, in a saucepan and fill with water to cover. Bring to the boil over a high heat. When all the scum has risen to the surface after it has been boiling a couple of minutes, pour the boiling water, scum, and chicken pieces into a colander in the sink. Immediately run the cold tap over the chicken, you are cooling it down so it doesn’t continue to cook. Wash each piece of chicken under the cold tap.
For the carcass of one chicken I use:
1 onion quartered. If you leave the skin on your stock will be darker
A few Chinese dried mushrooms as pictured above. These can be obtained in Chinese grocers.
2 carrots chopped into large chunks
A stick of celery chopped into 3
A sprig of parsley if you wish
A few peppercorns
You could also add a few slices of ginger and some crushed garlic, but these ingredients will change the character of your stock, so before doing this think carefully what you are going to use it for. Never add salt, you do that when you are cooking.
MAKING THE STOCK
I use a slow cooker. I place the vegetables in the slow cooker together with the skimmed stock and chicken, and cook on high for an hour, and then for a further 6 hours on low or medium, just so it’s bubbling. You could also use a stock pot on the stove, bringing it to the boil and then quickly turning it down, and just letting it gently bubble for up to 4 hours with the lid on.
If using the Chinese method place the vegetables and washed cold chicken in the slow cooker or stock pot. Follow instructions as above.
When the stock has cooled a little, strain the liquid into a bowl. I place a sieve over a colander. Do not press the vegetables or cooked chicken pieces or you’ll get bits in your stock. Let gravity do its work. You could also strain it through paper towels or muslin, but I do not bother as there is very little residue if the stock is skimmed properly and not pressed or boiled too hard. When you have nearly all the liquid discard the vegetables and chicken, and place the bowl of stock in the fridge.
When the stock has cooled you should find a layer of fat on the top, which you can use to add more flavour to the stock when using it, or remove and fry with it, or just discard. The stock should be slightly gelatinous when cool and clear when warm.
NB I have noticed the celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal uses the Chinese method in some of his recipes, so it can’t be bad!