Monday, February 27, 2012

Le Chicken Stock

Vegetarians and Vegans: Avert your eyes now!

Chicken stock. One of the more useful things a person can make in their student kitchen... but one that is very rarely bothered with...

Why? To be perfectly honest - I don't know... it's not like it's difficult or expensive to make - all your need is the carcass left over from your Sunday Roast or, failing that, chicken bits are next to nothing from the supermarket... My guess is that, to most, it seems like too much hard work...?

I'm here to tell you that that is not the case!

Chicken stock... it's never going to win a prize for
"most presentable ingredient of the year"...
Granted, it's not very pretty or photogenic work - but it's pretty simple.

First. Eat your chicken and pick of any leftover bits to have for lunch the next day.

Then put your chicken bones into a large pot (like the one you'd normally cook pasta in...) with the lemons you roasted it with (or new lemons if you didn't roast the chicken with any... or no lemons if lemons aren't your thing), a little oregano, salt and pepper. - basically match the flavours you're putting into your pot now, to the ones you used when you roasted your chicken.

Then toss in a quartered onion and a couple of crushed garlic cloves. Celery tops and/or beet heads are good here too - next time you buy a celery, cut of the leaves and freeze 'em until you want to make stock - they add a lovely, savoury flavorur. Beet heads turn everything a gorgeous pink!

Now, fill the pot with tap - warm water and put it on the heat. Medium heat is probably Okay. - You can also half fill the pot with tap hot water, then top it up with just boiled water (this method is more power usage friendly I believe)...

Turn on your extractor fan, if you have one.. and allow the pot to bubble away until the quantity of liquid has halved.

At this point you can either strain it straight away into a bowl before allowing the liquid to cook and the fat to rise and solidify and then scrape the fat off later (this method is good if you want to reboil the chicken bones for a second [slightly lesser] chicken stock) OR you can allow the whole lot to cool and solidify in the pan and then strain the whole lot, fat and all (this is my preferred method). My chicken stock is never jelly-y (I think because I use so much water to only one chicken carcass) so that's never a problem when straining the cooled stock...

I find playing around in cold chicken stock trying to pick out little discs of congealed fat kind of repugnant, which is why I prefer the second method. The fat sticks to the bones and, if your sieve is fine enough, gets strained out.

Steam it up!
That's it. Pretty simple, really. Next time you roast yourself a chicken - try it out and let me know how you go! :)

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