I seriously hate it when good produce goes to waste, it totally keeps me up at night.
I’m also a big fan of all those ‘tasty bits’ that can get completely overlooked. Yes, I’m the guy hiding in the kitchen gnawing on all the little bits of meat left on the bone after a the Sunday roast has been carved, or trying to (not so elegantly) suck the marrow out of my dinner at fancy restaurants, scraping up the sticky bits on the bottom of the pan or scheming up ways to use the offcuts or leftovers that might otherwise go in the bin.
This doesn’t just apply to meat and seafood. Often we overlook parts of vegetables that might be completely edible (and packed with flavour) simply because we aren’t used to preparing or eating them. (Like the leaves on beetroots or celery, the stem of broccoli and cauliflower or the skin on carrots and parsnips).
One of the simplest things to make use of the flavour in these offcuts and trash-destined ingredients, which doesn’t require much thought or foodie knowledge, is to make a stock.
A deeply flavoured, rich stock can often be the linchpin of a great dish, and making your own is generally the best way to get great results (plus you know that it hasn’t been packed with sugar, salt or preservatives like everything on the supermarket shelves).
Here at Fashion Fitness Food HQ we tend to save poultry or meat bones whenever we do a roast (generally once a week), then every few weeks we make a big batch of stock (which freezes fantastically). There are a few staples that will go into most stocks we make (think onion, carrot, celery), but largely it depends on what we have in the fridge.
This does take a while to make, but is largely left simmering on the stovetop so doesn’t need much attention. Perfect for a lazy Sunday, or popped in your slowcooker while at work.
What you will need for a Chicken Stock:
- 2 chicken carcases
- 2 onions, quartered with skin on
- 2 carrots, cut into rounds
- 1 stick of celery, sliced
- 4 cloves or garlic, bruised with flat of knife
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- few sprigs of thyme
- + any vegetable offcuts you have laying around (I used cabbage, beetroot leaves and broccoli stems)
Our first step is to get some browning on the chicken, this is vital for a rich final product.
Preheat the oven to 200c.
Lay out the chicken carcass (along with any other bits that might be left over; skin, wingtips, leg bones etc), onions, carrots, celery and garlic on a roasting tray. toss in a small amount of oil (we use coconut oil).
Roast for 20 minutes, then take out, give a bit of a toss, add the other vegetable cuts (if using) and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes or until the chicken carcasses are nice and brown.
Transfer all the ingredients to a large stockpot (I had to halve the chicken carcasses to fit them in). Throw in the bay leaves, pepper, thyme and a few pinches of salt.
We now deglaze the roasting tray so we don’t lose any of those tasty sticky bits left behind. Discard any excess oil in the roasting tray, add a cup of water, and place over a medium heat hob (yup, you are putting your roasting tray itself on the hob). Bring the water to a light simmer, scraping the bottom of the dish to get all the bits off the bottom. Transfer the liquid to the stockpot.
Add enough cold tap water to the pot so that it just cover everything. Set over a medium-high heat (uncovered) and bring to the boil. As soon as the boil is reached, lower the temperature to achieve a light simmer. Skim off any impurities with a slotted spoon that have bubbled to the surface.
Simmer uncovered for 3 to 4 hours.
Remove from heat and strain into a large bowl through a collinder to remove all the chicken and vegetables (make sure your bowl is big enough! we don’t want to lose any). Discard the solids left in the colander.
Strain again through wet muslin cloth or a fine sieve.
At this point, I like to reduce my stock further (I prefer it rich and thick). This isn’t necessary if you want a more liquid stock.
Return the stock to the pot and bring to a very light simmer until liquid is reduced by about half. Skim off any impurities that rise.
Transfer the stock to a jug or bowl and refrigerate overnight. This allows all the fat to solidify on top. Skim off the layer of fat.
The stock can now be left in the fridge and used within a few days, or frozen for several months. (If freezing, make sure to split the stock into 1 cup portions so that you don’t have to thaw and refreeze the whole batch).
Enjoy this in any dish that calls for chicken stock; risotto, paella, gravy, soup etc. Or even just add a little to any of your sauces for a seriously incredible depth of flavour. Believe me, you will notice the difference.
NB This recipe and method can also be easily adapted to any other meat stock, just (obviously) switch out the chicken carcass for other left over bones and offcuts.