Chicken stock (+ poached chicken breast)

Chicken stock (+ poached chicken breast)

By
From
A Lot on Her Plate
Makes
4 litres
Photographer
Helen Cathcart

I can’t recommend getting into the habit of making your own chicken stock enough. It’s just so versatile: you can freeze it to use in sauces, risottos, stews or soups, or keep a jug of it in the fridge in the winter months ready to make impromptu broths with glass noodles, grated ginger, spring onion, chilli and poached chicken. It can be a real game-changer to have good stock in the fridge for making speedy, warming, immune-system boosting soup or stew. Use this recipe as a base and add aromatics of your choice to customise it; I like experimenting with Asian flavours like star anise, ginger and lemongrass. I use a whole bird to make my stock, which might seem a bit lavish, but it’s something favoured by two of my food heroes, Uyen Luu and Alice Waters, and it really makes for a flavour- and goodness-packed stock. Plus, you end up with fantastic poached chicken, to shred into salads, pies or serve with rice or veg. Use the best chicken you can find – I find that corn-fed ones have more flavour.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 x 1-1.5kg free-range, organic corn-fed chicken
5 black peppercorns
1 white onion, halved
2 garlic cloves
1 stick celery
1 carrot, peeled
1 star anise, (optional)
1 bouquet garni parsley stems, thyme and a bay leaf, tied together with kitchen-string
pinch sea salt
fish sauce, to taste (optional)

Method

  1. Place the chicken and all the remaining ingredients into a large saucepan or stockpot. Cover with about 4 litres cold water (the more you use the less intense the stock will be). Place over a medium heat and bring to a rolling boil, skimming off any scum or froth from the surface. As soon as it reaches a rolling boil immediately turn the heat down to a very gentle simmer, with small bubbles popping on the surface at irregular intervals. Do not allow it to boil for long as this will emulsify the fat, making a murky, greasy stock. Leave for up to 3 hours. The longer you leave it the more intense the stock will be. If it’s reducing too rapidly, just add more water. After 1 hour remove the breasts and ‘oysters’ from the chicken and use them for salads or noodle soups, returning the carcass to the stock pan for the remaining time. Strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve, and, if you want a really fine clear stock, use a chemex filter or other pour-over coffee filter to strain it again. If you’re using the stock straight away, season it with salt or fish sauce, to taste, and skim off any fat. If you’re making it to use at a later date, pour it into a clean jug and leave the fat as it will act as a natural seal, and once chilled it will solidify so that it can be easily removed. Once completely cool, the stock will keep in the fridge for 1 week, or in the freezer for 2 months.
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