One of the first things that I learnt at culinary school is still the one lesson I am most grateful for. The reason being, is that the key to all fantastic sauces, soups and braises is a great stock.
I remember being hounded by one of my sous chefs for not keeping a close enough eye on the stock during lunch service (a stock that was over 40 litres and by this stage had been simmering for at least 20 hours).
At home I never go to such extremes but do agree that the taste you get from a homemade stock just can’t be beaten.
Generally I make either a vegetable or chicken stock regardless of whether I am cooking with vegetables, poultry, seafood or meat.
Stocks can be made in advance and frozen for up to 2-3 months.
What I like to do is reduce a stock 2/3 more than I would need to and freeze it making a concentrated version that doesn’t take up to much room in the freezer and can be diluted when used.
The recipe below is for a standard stock. To make my concentrated version simply strain and continue to reduce until 1/3 liquid remains, cool and freeze.
1 small organic chicken or 1.5 kilograms of chicken carcasses
1/2 bulb of garlic
2 stalks celery, cut in half
2 onions, whole with the skin left on
2 carrots cut in half
1 leek, washed and cut in half
2 dried bay leaves
5 fresh sprigs thyme
5 fresh sprigs parsley
5 whole peppercorns
In a large heavy based pot place the chicken, vegetables, herbs and peppercorns. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and skim of any scum with a large ladle.
Continue to simmer for 2 hours, skimming if necessary, and topping up with cold water if it reduces too far.
Strain the stock with a fine sieve or a in a colander lined with a clean tea towel. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before refrigerating.
Chicken stock will keep in the refrigerator for 4 days or can be frozen for up to 2-3 months.
Makes 1.5 litres