Basic Home-made Chicken Stock

Chicken stock is the all-purpose base for soups and sauces. Its chief ingredient is inexpensive; it is light and delicious; and it marries well with other foods, enhancing and sustaining them. I find that the richer stocks made with ham or pork bones are heavier and not quite to my taste. This simple recipe for chicken stock reflects what I believe works best for any dish. Remember that stock prepared in this way can also be served just as it is, as a clear soup.

Many of the commercially prepared canned or cubed (dried) stocks are of inferior quality, being either too salty or containing additives and colourings that adversely affect your health as well as the natural taste of good food. However, many supermarkets now carry fresh stock that is quite acceptable, usually without the additives.

Stock does take time to prepare but it is easy to make your own - and when home-made, it is the best.

Your first step on the path to success with wok cooking must be to prepare and maintain an ample supply of good chicken stock, as many recipes in this book rely on it for just the right finish. I prefer to make it in large quantities at a time and freeze it. However, you may find it useful to freeze it in 600ml (1 pint) containers or even smaller, if you are likely to need small quantities at a time. Here are several important points to keep in mind when making stock:

  • Good stock requires meat to give it richness and flavour. It is therefore necessary to use at least some chicken meat, if not a whole bird.
  • The stock should never boil. If it does, it will become cloudy and the fat will be incorporated into the liquid. Flavour and digestibility come with a clear stock.
  • Use a deep heavy saucepan so the liquid covers all the solids and evaporation is slow.
  • Simmer slowly and skim the stock regularly. Be patient; you will reap rewards each time you prepare meals on the basis of this delicate stock.
  • Strain the finished stock well through several layers of cheesecloth or a fine-mesh strainer.
  • Let the stock cool thoroughly, then refrigerate. Remove any solidified fat before freezing it.

My method of careful skimming ensures a clear stock, essential for good soups and sauces. Remember to save all your uncooked chicken bones and carcasses for stock. They can be frozen until you are ready to use them. If you find the amount in this recipe too large for your needs, make half.

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Preparation Time: 15 Minutes
Cooking Time: 3-4 Hours


  • 2 kg( lb ) raw chicken bones, such as backs, feet, wings
  • 750g ( lb) chicken pieces, such as wings, thighs, drumsticks
  • 3.4 litres(6 pints) cold water
  • small piece fresh ginger, 5 x 6cm (2x3 in)
  • 9 whole spring onions
  • 1 head whole garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns


  1. Put the chicken bones and chicken pieces into a very large pot. (The bones can be put in either frozen or defrosted.) Cover them with the water and bring to simmering point.
  2. Meanwhile peel the ginger and cut into diagonal slices, 5 x 1cm (2 x ½ in). Remove the green tops of the spring onions. Separate the head of garlic into cloves, without peeling them.
  3. Using a large, flat spoon, skim off the foam as it rises from the bones. Watch the heat as the stock should never boil. Keep skimming until the stock looks clear. This can take between 20 to 40 minutes. Do not stir or disturb the stock.
  4. Now turn the heat down to a low simmer. Add the ginger, spring onions, garlic, salt and peppercorns. Simmer the stock on a very low heat for between 2 and 4 hours, skimming any fat off the top at least twice during this time.
  5. Strain the stock through several layers of dampened cheesecloth or through a very fine-mesh strainer, then let it cool thoroughly. When it is cold, remove any fat that has risen to the top. It is now ready to be used at once or transferred to containers and frozen.