Homemade chicken stock is easy to make and also nutritious. It can often be made from remnants of a meal, or at least it is inexpensive to put together.
1 large onion
2 small carrots
2 sticks celery
1 leek, optional
Clump parsley with stalks
Thyme sprigs and 2 fresh bay leaves
12 black peppercorns
2 chicken carcasses, raw or cooked, or equivalent of raw or cooked bones
All you need to do is to fill a soup pot with chopped vegetables, chicken bones and water, chuck in a fistful of herbs and bubble it away gently. You’ll not only fill the house with the most glorious smell but you’ll produce a good tasting stock, too, which will be a great addition to sauces, stews and soups. All recipes on Shared Kitchen call for unsalted stock (salted stock can become too salty when it reduces down), so leave the stock unsalted.
Put all ingredients in a stock or soup pot – a tall and narrow saucepan, rather than a wide short one – to minimise reduction.
Work in the proportion of ⅓ bones and vegetables to ⅔ water.
The ratio of different vegetables should be balanced so that no one flavour dominates.
Stock can be made with raw or cooked chicken bones, but use one type or the other, don’t mix them.
Avoid using strong parts of vegetables such as the outer deep green leaves of leeks or the dark green leaves of celery because these will dominate the flavour. However, a few pale-coloured celery leaves are a great addition as is a little celeriac. And leave out strongly odiferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower. Pumpkin will disintegrate and make a cloudy stock.
Don’t use starchy vegetables such as potato or kumara because they will make the stock cloudy and don’t use sharp-flavoured vegetables such as tomatoes because they will make the stock too acidic.
Parsley stalks, which have more flavour than the leaves, fresh or dried bay leaves, thyme and savory are good additions to the stock pot. A little sliced ginger, lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves will give the stock a fresher cleaner scent and flavour. Garlic is optional, but best peeled. A few mushrooms – fresh or dried – add good flavour, though they can make a stock dark in colour.
Cut vegetables the same size, not too small, or they’ll break apart and make the stock cloudy.
Bring stock to a gentle boil then immediately turn down to a simmer and cook gently for 2-3 hours. It’s important not to boil it hard, because that can make the stock muddy, but to cook it at a gentle simmer to extract all the flavour and goodness from the ingredients.
Drain stock, cool quickly, then chill. Once the stock is chilled, scoop off any fat which sets on the top. Use within 2 days or transfer to containers and freeze.
Transfer chicken carcass from a roast chicken meal to a sealed plastic bag and freeze until you have enough bones to make stock.
If a richer more syrupy or jellied stock is required, boil it down after scooping off fat.