For years I have always used stock cubes whenever I needed to cook anything that called for ‘a little fresh stock’. Making it from scratch seemed such a fuss and not really worth the effort but, as we had recently bought so many chickens to cut up into joints for the freezer (see the post here), I thought it was about time I really should give it a go.
Stock can be made from fresh chickens, perfect for when you are jointing the chickens into portions yourself, or from the leftover carcass after a roast, and, as it turns out, takes very little effort for a very tasty and versatile end result.
Place your chicken carcass into a large saucepan or stockpot and pour over 2 litres of water for each carcass you are using (as we had been jointing some chickens I used 3 carcasses and 6 litres of water).
A few extra ingredients are added to the water for extra flavour; onions (1 large per chicken but I have lots of small ones left over from growing them on the allotment last season so I used about 6, trimmed to leave the root intact and skin removed), carrots (again about 1 per chicken washed and halved – no need to peel) and peppercorns (about 6 per chicken). I could also have added some celery but seeing as there was none in the fridge I decided to do without it! I didn’t add salt as I thought it best to add seasoning to the food I make with the stock and taste then.
Now all I had to do was bring it to the boil and simmer for a couple of hours with the lid on…simple!
After the 2 hours was up I allowed the stock to cool a little as 6 litres of boiling water is pretty heavy and could prove disastrous if I slipped!
Using a slotted spoon I fished out all of the bones and vegetables and strained the liquid through a fine sieve.
The stock freezes really well so it is worth making a batch next time you have a chicken.
One of the first things I made with the stock was the following Sunday when we had roast chicken – for the first time I made home made chicken gravy…absolutely delicious!! As someone who has always used granules the difference was incredible – it really made the food taste so much different…if you have never tasted home made gravy then you really should give it a go!
The home made stock has made such a difference in flavour to other things too such as chicken casserole or chicken soup – in fact it would be perfect for anything that needs a light stock!
But apart from all of the taste benefits, making stock is also a very thrifty and money-saving thing to do – after all, the carcass is usually just thrown away, which really is a terrible waste when there is still so much flavour to be had from it!