Chicken stock

Don't let any of your chicken go to waste. It's so easy to make it in to stock and it serves as a delicious base to all kinds of soups, stews and generally lovely food.

There are loads of variations to method and ingredients. This is how I tend to make mine, but I have included notes about how you can adapt this to suit you.

If you want a lighter stock (for example to use with fish) skip steps 1 to 3. Adding a pigs trotter to your chicken will add gelatine which will make the stock thicker, great for sauces.

There are only three hard and fast rules to making stock… brown your meat and veg thoroughly, use enough water to cover rather than deluge, and simmer as gently as you can.

1. Roast your chicken in some oil and salt for 15 minutes at 180

You can use chicken carcasses, chicken wings, bones left over from your roast. You could even brown and poach a whole chicken; you'll be left with delicious, tender meat and a beautiful stock.

You can brown your chicken at any temperature between 160 and 200, so you could make use of oven space to do this whilst you are cooking something else.

2. Add vegetables to your chicken

Use whatever vegetables you have, but I always include an onion (no need to peel it) and ideally a carrot and some celery. In the pictures below, we roasted a cauliflower core, leek tops and whole unpeeled garlic cloves, and added sweetcorn husks later with the water. So long as it's not starchy it will add flavour; this is a good way to use up your vegetable trimmings (although greens don't taste good).

3. Put the pan back in the oven for about 45 mins until the chicken is golden

Stir it a couple of times whilst you are cooking to stop any of the vegetables from catching. The chicken should be lovely and golden, any skin should be crunchy… this is where the flavour develops so don't be scared to cook for longer if necessary.

4. Put your chicken and veg in to a big saucepan or pressure cooker

Get all the lovely, sticky, marmity bits out of your roasting tin with some water and a wooden spoon and add it to your pan (don't let any of the flavours go to waste).

5. Top the pan up with just enough water cover everything

6. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to let it gently and slowly simmer for about two hours

You could pop it back in the oven at 100 degrees to simmer if you prefer. Make sure you bring it to the boil first and check a few times to make sure the stock is simmering rather than boiling. Reduce the oven temperature if necessary.

7. Pour the stock in to a colander over a bowl

You should be left with a bowl full of lovely clear stock and a colander full of soft vegetables and chicken.

8. Cool the stock as quickly as you can

This is especially important in hot weather. Putting the bowl in to cold water in the sink will cool it quickly, and you can refresh the cold water if you need to.

9. Remove the chicken from the bones

It will just slip off, so use your fingers. You can use this in soup, in a pie, as a sandwich filling…

10. As soon as the stock and chicken are cool, get them in to the fridge or freezer.

It will keep in the fridge for about a week.

11. Once the stock is cool, you can skim the fat off the top with a spoon

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