Chicken Stock

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White chicken stock is made by simmering bones and water together for 40 minutes. Dark chicken stock, which is my preference, involves roasting or frying the bones before boiling and gives a more pronounced flavour, in the same way as a roast chicken tastes more distinctive than one that’s been boiled. All poached and roasted foods differ for the same reason. Complex changes happen at temperatures over 150°C/300°F/Gas 2. These are called Maillard reactions and involve proteins on the outside of the food caramelizing into richer as well as darker flavours. The effect is caused by the temperatures reached and not just the length of time spent cooking the bones.

Ingredients

  • ( pints/ cups)
  • 3 whole chicken carcasses, or 750g (1 lb 10 oz) winglets, necks and gizzards
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped

Method

Roast the chicken bones at 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 for around 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Transfer the roast bones to a stockpot or large saucepan. Drain off any fat from the roasting tin, then deglaze it by pouring in 225ml (8fl oz/1 cup) of cold water. Bring the water to the boil, scraping up as much of the caramelized cooking juices as possible, then add to the pot of bones.

Pour in 2.25 litres (4 pints/10¼ cups) of water and bring the pot to the boil. Skim off the foam that rises to the surface of the stock, then add the chopped vegetables. Return to the boil and simmer for 1½ hours. Should the water level drop below that of the chicken during simmering, top it up.

Strain the stock and leave to cool completely. Refrigerate the stock as soon as it is cool. The fat will then rise to the surface and solidify, albeit softly. It will skim off easily.

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