This is one of the staple basics of cooking, especially for sauces and soups. I have played around with a number of variations of chicken stock, ranging from the lightly fragrant to the deeply intense. What I have personally settled on is a stock that meets somewhere in the middle. I will use this unreduced when I want to take advantage of the delicate flavours within the stock, for example in light soups and when used for poaching. Reduced, this stock has a richly deep flavour and ideal for rich sauces. One of the great flavour enhancers in this stock is to roast the chicken wings sprinkled with milk powder (this idea was inspired by Heston Blumenthal). The protein in milk powder (casein) seems to promote the browning, or Maillard reaction, of the chicken during the roasting process – the more browning the more intense the flavour.
- For the Chicken Wings:
- ■ 1kg free range chicken wings |
- ■ a sprinkling dried milk powder | This should be a light sprinkling.
- ■ 100ml hot water | Used for deglazing.
- For the Stock:
- ■ 2 free range chicken carcasses | Cut into 10cm pieces.
- ■ 4 litres cold Water | About 1 litre is lost during simmering.
- ■ 1 carrot | Peeled and roughly chopped.
- ■ 1 onion | Halved.
- ■ 2 cloves | 1 clove studded in each onion half.
- ■ 1 celery stalk | Ensure the stalk is green - roughly chopped.
- ■ 100g Swiss brown mushrooms | Thinly sliced - do not rinse as this tends to wash away some of the flavour.
- ■ 1 leek | White part only - roughly chopped.
- ■ 1 bouquet garni | See below for recipe link.
Put the chicken wings in a roasting tin so that they fit snugly. Sprinkle with milk powder and put in an oven which has been preheated to 200 deg C. Roast for approximately 45 minutes, or until they are a deep sticky brown. Remove from the roasting tin, drain the fat from the roasting tin and then deglaze the tin with the hot water. The deglaze has an intense flavour.
In a stock pot add the roasted chicken wings, deglaze, chicken carcass pieces and cold water. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently, skimming the foamy scum that forms on top. I use a small ladle and create a swirling motion from the centre of the pot which forces the foam to the edge. This foam is then skimmed from the surface. The foam is a result of proteins breaking down and aggregating on the surface. By clearing the foam you have a much better chance of having a clear stock.
After about 4-5 minutes add the rest of the ingredients, and then simmer the stock gently and uncovered for 1.5 hours. Filter the stock through a fine meshed sieve, and allow to cool. Once cool store in the fridge overnight so that the fat hardens and is easy to skim from the surface. Once most of the fat has been removed use within a week or freeze for later.
The recipe for bouquet garni is here.
■ I personally don't add salt to a stock, as I will season the dish that the stock goes in to. ■ I pour the stock in to 250ml disposable cups, cover with foil and then freeze.