A well-stocked kitchen stocks stock!
It’s a versatile staple that is cheap and easy to make yourself (not so cheap if you buy it).
The most frugal (yet no less tasty) stock uses scraps – the chicken bones from Sunday’s roast and vegetable tops and peelings. If you’re not making stock immediately, throw your scraps in a container in the freezer, ready for when you are.
Alternatively, you can use chicken wings to make chicken stock and then use the meat from the wings as lunch meat. Or you can substitute with beef or lamb bones or leave out the meat altogether and make vegetable stock. The process is similar for each variation.
In today’s tutorial, I use the stove top to make chicken stock, but you can easily make chicken stock in the slow cooker.
Time: about 20 minutes of ‘hands-on’ time.
Makes: about 3 litres.
Chicken bones or chicken wings
Vegetable scraps onion peelings, carrot tops and peelings, celery base or tops, parsley stalks, capsicum (will colour stock) mushroom stalks, broccoli stem (will give the stock a strong flavour), leek greens etc. Throw in an extra onion or carrot or some extra parsley if your scraps are light on these.
A bay leaf or two
A few peppercorns
A few grinds of the salt mill
1. Put all the ingredients into a pot. If your scraps or wings are frozen, don’t worry about defrosting them.
2. Add water to cover – I usually add 3 1/2 litres.
3. Cover and bring to the boil, then reduce to a slow simmer. Simmer for a couple of hours. Turn the stove off and let stand until cool enough to place in the fridge so that the flavours develop. Refrigerate overnight.
4. Then next day, skim the fat that has solidified on the surface of the stock. You can strain the stock as is, but I find it easy to scoop out the vegetables and chicken prior to straining. If you like, put the vegetables in your strainer and give them a squish to remove as much stock as you can before adding the vegetable scraps to the compost.
5. Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer.
6. (Optional) Strain the stock again through a muslin or clean tea towel. This removes any grit and small bits of chicken fat.
7. Prepare for freezing. You can freeze the stock in recycled glass jars, just ensure to leave plenty of head room – liquid will expand upon freezing. I like to use zip lock bags because we have a tiny freezer and I can lay these flat and stack them. The stock also defrosts quickly this way.
I have found however that some bags leak from the bottom or side seams, so check before you freeze. These bags can be washed and reused.
Using a measuring cup, measure your desired amount of stock into your freezing container. I like to freeze stock in 500ml batches.
If freezing in bags, squeeze out as much air as possible as you seal the bag.
If you have a small amount of stock leftover, freeze this in ice cube trays. Once frozen, transfer to a bag or container. These small amounts of stock are great for sauces.
8. Label your containers and freeze stock. Use as required.
Now that you are stocked with stock it’s easy to throw together a soup, casserole, risotto or any other dish that requires stock. Simply place the bag in some warm water if you need to speed up the defrosting time.
Your homemade stock won’t be as salty as commercial stock. I find this a boon because commercial food all tastes too salty to me. It also means that you can adjust the seasoning of your dish as you like.
Do you make your own homemade stock?