As many of my friends know, there aren’t many days that go by that I haven’t got a stock on the boil. I was brought up in a home that would never be short of a good gelatinous stock in the fridge. It didn’t always come without its mishaps. My gran, who lived with us, often infused our home with the unforgettable smell of burnt chicken bones (to compliment the smell of boiled cabbage) as she’d often forget she’d left them on the stove. But her aim was always to make the best of very little.
Stock is an important part of our diet and there should always be some in our fridge or freezer. I love knowing that I always have a nutrient-laden base for a good meal to hand. I also also take comfort in putting all the gut-healing, immune boosting minerals into my family.
I use it for cooking everything: making risotto, boiling quinoa, bulgur wheat or lentils, making soups, steaming vegetables, adding depth and flavour to stews and much more…
I used to add salt to my stocks but a good chef that I know advised me that the flavour of the stock should be underwhelming. It's when you add it to the recipes that you create that you should add the flavour enhancers.
Always try to use the best quality, preferably organic, ingredients where possible. The ingredients I use often vary depending on what I have available but here is a basic outline of what I use;
1 Chicken (organic if possible)
2 celery stalks
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
10 black peppercorns
1-2 bay leaves
A few sprigs dry thyme
1 tbs apple cider vinegar (recipe coming soon!)
Put all of the ingredients with skin still on (even the onions and garlic), giving the carrots and celery a wash before, into a large casserole and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 2 hours. Remove the chicken and take the flesh off the bone. Put the bones and carcass back into the liquid and continue to boil for at least two more hours. My mum often leaves her stock in the bottom oven of her Aga overnight to extract as much goodness out of the bones as possible. She always manages to create a wonderful, gelatinous, golden stock. A slow-cooker is also a good option and you can leave your stock for up to 12h hours or overnight.
Once your stock is ready, pour it through sieve capturing all of the aromatics.Choose an appropriate container and store your stock in the fridge for up to 3 days or stock it in the fridge.
* Keep the cooked chicken meat for use in salads, risotto, sandwiches etc.
* A waste-saving tip is I often keep peelings from onions and carrots and celery tops and use these for even more ingredients to really pack a punch.
* I often add the stock-soaked carrots to my dog's bowl, mashed up with her biscuits. She loves them and they are so good for her.
*A friend of mine stores hers in her freezer in 'Bon Maman' jars - a perfect alternative to plastic containers!