This is one of the most important ingredients in your kitchen and the basis for so many dishes including sauces, casseroles, stews, risotto, soups etc. One of my favourite ways to use chicken stock is in a spicy, sharp and round Thai chicken soup or to make a shepherds pie infinitely tastier. At Rivergrass, we use our kitchen scraps to make stock, omitting root vegetables (except carrot) and adding things like fennel tops, herb stalks, leek tops etc. There really isn't anything quite so warming and comforting as a delicious chicken broth.
What we'll cover:
- brown and white stock
- some tips and transferrable skills
- last note and uses
Brown vs. White Stock
Note that stocks can be divided into two categories: brown and white.
For brown stock the bones are roasted and sometimes tomato is added. Traditionally brown stock would be used as the base for sauces such as a demi-glace.
White stock is virtually the same except the bones aren't roasted and tomato is omitted. You can blanch the bones first if you like, as this keeps the stock a little clearer. I don't normally do this unless the stock is going to be visible in your dish.
Tips, Tricks and Transferrable Skills
- good quality chickens have had the chance to run around, this makes their bones stronger and their meat more flavoursome. The cartilage separating their bones is also stronger, this means more collagen (which then turns into gelatine) which will give your stock more body, make it 'glossy' and coat the tongue for longer, giving the sense of a more round flavour. These things make a significant difference to the final result.
- starting with cold water when making any meat or fish stock is vital as some proteins only dissolve in cold water, this again will help with giving your stock some body and produce a clearer result.
- cutting up the chicken and supporting vegetables into smaller bits means more surface area, which means more flavour.
Makes about 1.5 litres
1 chicken carcass
2 onions, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stick of celery, chopped
1 head of garlic, cut horizontally
10 black peppercorns
1 small bunch of rosemary (about 5 sprigs)
A couple of parsley stalks, if you have them
2 bay leaves, ideally fresh
1 small bunch of thyme (about 5 sprigs)
Any trimmings you might have
- If you're making brown stock, preheat your oven to 190°C (375°F) and roast the carcass until it's a lovely golden brown colour, about 1 hour.
- Once roasted (or not) put all of the ingredients into a large pot and cover with cold water.
- Slowly bring up to a simmer and hold there for around 5 hours, making sure there is always enough water to cover the bones.
- Take your pot off the heat and allow it to cool.
- Strain the stock through a sieve with a layer of cheesecloth to catch the smaller bits.
It might seem like a lot of trouble to go to but trust me, it's so worth it. Chicken stock has literally hundreds of uses in your kitchen and the homemade stuff is incomparably better.
A few uses for chicken stock:
- all manner of soups
- chicken casseroles
- rice, quinoa, barley and other grains taste delicious cooked in chicken stock
- mashed potatoes
- chowders, my favourite is corn
The list goes on...! Enjoy x