My tip today is to show you how to re-use your leftover chicken bones, and even your fresh vegetable peel, to make some great chicken stock. More than just give you a recipe, I would like to share little tips with you to make it that little bit more useful. Once you have tasted your own home-made chicken stock, you will never look at chicken bones the same way again! It is also a good thing to do if you suffer from high blood pressure as you are able to regulate your salt intake – shop-bought stock cubes are very salty! It also enables me to have potato free stock to cater for my hubby’s potato allergy. It is really easy to make, and uses up leftovers. So, it’s worth a try, isn’t it?
The ingredients are: chicken bones, vegetables (onion, carrot, celery & garlic), bay leaf, salt & pepper and vinegar (or wine).
Chicken bones: the easiest way to get bones is to use your leftover roast. Have a look at how to “stretch” shop-bought chicken in this post. Tip: remove as much of the meat left on the bones as possible and store in the fridge or freezer, to be used for another meal. If you don’t have time to make the stock or if you don’t have enough bones, place them in a plastic bag and store in the freezer (Tip: to save space in the freezer, squash the carcass with the heel of your hand before placing in the bag).
Vegetables: Wash them first but don’t bother taking the skins off because you are only after their flavour, you will not be eating them. For about 2/3 chickens worth of bones, use 1 large onion, 1 large carrot, 2 celery stalks all roughly cut, plus 3 large garlic cloves crushed with the flat of your chef’s knife and the heel of your hand. Tip: when cooking with garlic, only use the large cloves because they are quick to peel and keep the little ones aside for use in stock or to flavour the inside of a roast chicken carcass as all you need to do is crush them with the skin left on. Tip: If you make your stock just after your Sunday roast for example, remember to put aside on a plate all the peel and end bits of your vegetables as you can add them to your stock pot for extra flavour.
Vinegar: only a couple of tablespoons or a small glass of wine even. All you want here is something which will help soften the bones during cooking to get all that nice flavour out of the bones.
Other ingredients: 1 small handful of whole pepper grains, optional sea salt, 1 or 2 bay leaves. Parsley, rosemary and thyme are great too but not essential.
Now, just put all the vegetables together in a large pot – fry the onion first for a couple of minutes, in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add your fresh or frozen bones and all other ingredients. Cover the lot with boiling water and simmer gently, with the lid on, for 3 or 4 hours, making sure the bones stay immersed. Tip: squash your carcass flat and you will need less liquid to cover the bones. If using a pressure cooker, the cooking time is halved.
When your stock is cooked, let it cool down for 5-10 minutes. Take out the bones and vegetables with a ladle and place them in a sieve over a large saucepan. Tip: do it a couple ladles at a time to make it easier to handle. Push down slightly with the ladle to squeeze the juice out of the bones and veggies. Tip the sieve over your bin to dispose of the squashed bones and vegs. Repeat the process until you have removed the bulk of the bones and vegs. Then, pour the rest of the liquid inside the sieve. Now, you have to boil the liquid over a high heat to reduce the quantity to a manageable size. Check your saucepan regularly because it would be a shame to burn it now! Your stock is ready when it has the consistency of single cream. Then pour your stock in a baking tray and let it cool down. Tip: when pouring, do it slowly reaching every part of the tray to ensure that the brown susbtance at the bottom of the saucepan is evenly distributed. Leave the tray in the fridge overnight, divide into individual portions (see picture above), using a rubber spatula so you don’t scratch your tray. Tip: use cup cake cases and tray for this task. Freeze overnight. Once frozen, place in a plastic bag, vacuum seal using my method, write the date and content (essential if you make other types of stock).