When a recipe calls for chicken stock, always try and make your own as it really is so worth the effort (which to be fair, is not a actually a big deal). Why? Well, because not only does it taste better, it has no additives, it is so good for you with naturally occurring antimicrobial properties from the bones, and if using a cooked chicken carcass you are also getting more out of your bird and there is less waste.
This recipe uses a whole, uncooked chook, but I adapt it whenever I have any chicken leftover from my Sunday roast. Basically it’s a win win recipe.
Homemade chicken stock
It is always best to make a chicken (or any) stock at least one day ahead of you needing it, as the fat needs to be removed, leaving you with a lovely clean clear liquid. Once made the stock is left to go cold and then it is ready to refrigerate overnight. This sets the layer of fat on the surface of the stock, which can then be more easily removed the next day.
In France (where I live) you can buy several different types of chickens including a boiling chicken, which is an older bird with a good flavour, but the meat is tougher, due to the age. If you can’t get this where you live, a regular large chicken will do. If you can stretch to it, always buy free-range chickens, for ethical reasons.
If you end up making the stock, but not using it within a day or so, then pop it in to the freezer, where it will sit happily for up to 3 months.
Makes: approximately 2L/8 cups (the one shown above has been reduced)
2 kg/4 1/4 lb boiling chicken, washed
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
2 leeks, sliced
2 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons sea salt
a few sprigs parsley
a few sprigs thyme
a few black peppercorns, lightly bashed
If you are using a raw chicken, wash and dry inside and out, then place in a large saucepan. Add all the remaining ingredients and cover with 2.5L/10 cups of cold water.
Bring the water to the boil skimming the surface with a large spoon to remove any scum. Simmer gently, partially covered, for 3 hours. Strain the stock and leave to cool completely, then refrigerate overnight.
Carefully skim off the congealed layer of fat from the surface of the stock. You can now either use it as it is, or if you want a richer, deeper flavour then return it to the pan and cook again, uncovered this time, until it is reduced and has a depth of flavour you are happy with. Only at this point adjust the seasoning.
Tip. If using a cooked carcass, no need to wash it, simply pop it in the pan and continue as above.
Image © Ian Wallace
Recipe (not used from the book) ©Louise Pickford
Image published by Bauer Women’s Weekly Cook Books for More Slow Cooker