Last night we had soup for dinner. A Spicy Corn and Ginger Soup with Chillies, Spring Onions and Home-made Chicken Stock. It was healthy, nutritious and delicious. The silent hero of the dish was definitely the chicken stock. You can make this soup with purchased tetra packs of stock but if you would like to elevate the flavour to new heights use a home-made stock. It’s not too difficult. Just a little time-consuming. So… before I post the Spicy Corn and Ginger Soup recipe let’s have a conversation about home-made chicken stock.
A good chicken stock. The basis of so many delicious meals – soups, sauces, risotto, stir-fries, braises and casseroles. The list goes on. I always like to have home-made chicken soup on hand. On the stove, in the fridge or freezer. It’s my kitchen essential. Give me a great tasting chicken stock and I’ll have dinner on the table in the blink of an eye.
There’s no way around it. A good stock needs time and patience to develop great flavour. I simmer stock on the stove for a good three hours. So always schedule stock making for a morning or afternoon when I am home attending to a mountain of other chores. The effort is well worth it. This is another recipe that virtually takes care of itself, simmering away on the stove after some careful preparation.
Here are some simple steps I like to follow to produce a wonderfully flavoursome, sparkling clear stock.
First and foremost, I like to freshly roast chicken carcasses before adding them to the stock pot. Roasting caramelizes and deepens the flavour of the chicken in the stock. I’m careful to transfer only the carcasses, leaving any fats and oils behind in the baking tray. I really don’t want to be skimming those off my finished stock.
Once the water, vegetables and aromatics are added to the stock pot, slow extraction, not evaporation is key. As it cooks the stock should barely simmer. This involves some careful adjustment of the heat to ensure the bubbles break the surface slowly, not rapidly. Once I have the simmer at this point, I leave the stock alone and resist the temptation to push the carcasses, vegetables and aromatics down into the simmering liquid. This will only result in a cloudy stock. Been there, done that! Be patient and let time work its magic.
Another little secret to a clear stock? In the early stages it is necessary to regularly skim the surface of the stock with a ladle to remove any impurities. I initially add only the roasted chicken carcasses to the stock pot. This way I can easily skim any scum off the top of the stock without it becoming trapped in the vegetables and aromatics. I add these only when the liquid reaches a bubble. This could take a good twenty minutes or more depending on the size of the stock pot. The addition of ginger also helps enormously with the clarity of the stock.
If I am going to use the stock in an Asian inspired dish I use long green spring onions instead of brown, and substitute chillies for the bay leaves and coriander for the parsley. In the chicken stock recipe below I have marked these as bracketed substitutions for the vegetables and aromatics.
Here’s the recipe. I hope you give it a try.
Home Made Chicken Stock
Makes 10 – 12 cups
2.5 kg meaty chicken carcasses
enough water to cover the carcasses, this will depend on size of the stock pot; approximately 4 litres (16 cups)
2 medium carrots, peeled, sliced into chunks
2 stalks celery, sliced into chunks
1 leek, white part only, rinsed well, sliced lengthwise into quarters,
1 large onion, halved and peeled (or 8 long green spring onions, trimmed and cut in half lengthways)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and bruised
1 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and sliced thickly
8 Italian parsley (or coriander sprigs)
2 fresh bay leaves (or 2 whole red chillies)
sea salt flakes to taste
PREHEAT oven to 180 C and line a roasting tin with baking paper.
RINSE the chicken carcasses well, removing any clumps of fat. If the pieces are too large to fit comfortably in your stock pot, cut them to size with poultry shears.
PLACE them onto the baking tray and bake in hot oven for 30 minutes until golden brown.
TRANSFER the roasted chicken carcasses into a large stock pot with tongs. Add just enough cold water to cover them.
BRING the water to a bare simmer over moderately low heat. Skim the surface with a ladle to remove any impurities.
AS THE stock begins to bubble, add the vegetables and aromatics.
ADJUST the heat to a gentle simmer, do not allow it to boil or the broth will be cloudy.
COOK gently without stirring for 2-3 hours. I like to use a diffuser or simmer mat. Chicken stock should have a full, rich, rounded flavour. Taste often, taking the pot off the heat when satisfied.
REMOVE from heat. Strain the stock through a fine sieve and discard the solids.
SEASON to taste with sea salt.
ALLOW to cool completely. Store, covered in the refrigerator for up to three days or in the freezer for 2-3 months.