Pantry basics: The BEST chicken/vegetable stock (and cheap too!)

April 28, 2007 at 8:31 am Leave a comment

chicken-stock-sml.jpg

I make this chicken stock for around $3 Australian per 1.5L. This makes the most intensely flavoured stock which is wonderful used in risottos, soups, pastas.. everything!

The secret to this stock is vegetable scraps. Yes, those bits you usually throw out – the skin of the onion, the core of the pepper, the woody ends of the asparagus spears… These are a wonderful source of flavour for your stock. Just keep a snap-lock bag in the freezer, and whenever you have some scraps leftover from your food prep, pop them in the bag. When you have around 1 cubic litre worth, you’re ready to turn them into stock!

This recipe has chicken in it as well for added flavour and texture. But of course if you are a vegetarian it could be omitted. Alternately, substitute the chicken for fish heads to make fish stock, or beef shanks to make beef stock. But I find that chicken is the most versatile type of stock, so I normally make it with chicken.

Ingredients:
~700-800g chicken pieces
~1L vegetable scraps
~ 4 cloves of garlic, bruised
~1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
~3L of water

Method:
First, take the skin of the chicken pieces and trim any visible fat. Don’t be too fussy about this as the stock is skimmed at the final stage, but it helps to remove as much as possible at the start also.

In a large stockpot, combine all ingredients. Bring to the boil and simmer (no lid) for 1 hour. Remove the chicken pieces, and using two forks, pull the chicken meat off the bones. Don’t be too fussy about this – just get the best bits of meat, and transfer them to an airtight container and refridgerate. Return the bones to the pot and continue simmering the stock for a further 1-2 hours or until the liquid level has reduced by approximately half.

Strain the stock through a kitchen strainer to remove the large pieces of vegetable and the chicken bones. Transfer the stock to a plastic bowl and refrigerate overnight. The following day, carefully remove any congealed fat that has formed on the top of the stock. Allow the stock to come up to room temperature and strain through two layers of muslin cloth.

I like to freeze my stock in several different sized portions. Ice cubes of stock are wonderful to use in pasta sauces. Small portions of 100mL or thereabouts are good for casseroles where you just need a bit of extra punch. Large portions of 250mL (1 cup) are for risottos and soups.

Frozen stock can be kept for up to a year.

Coming soon – 20 ideas for the leftover chicken meat!! 🙂

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