Chicken stock is one of the most basic elements of a well run kitchen. I make this stock at least 3 times a week at work and it is one of the first recipes that young apprentice chefs are taught, with good reason. It is the cornerstone of many good soups and sauces. Along with veal stock, it should be in any good cook's repertoire.

A full flavoured chicken stock must be made from a fresh chicken or chicken bones and never, I repeat never add salt to a stock. Maximum extraction of flavour is ensured by careful selection of ingredients and most importantly the correct temperature. Adding salt to a stock can end in disaster when you combine it with other salty ingredients or even worse, a reduced stock that will taste like a fresh gulp of seawater.

A good chicken stock, in the western style, also needs aromatics in the form of vegetables and herbs to enrich the final result. This stock can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or frozen for 2 months. Spend a lazy Saturday afternoon in the kitchen making it and you will be rewarded for quite some time afterwards with litres of homemade goodness, that can be called upon at a moment's notice to sharpen up all manner of dishes.

Ingredients

  • 1 fresh 2 kg (4 lb) chicken OR
  • 2 kg (4 lb) fresh chicken bones
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 6 parsley stalks
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10 whole black peppercorns
  • 500 ml (2 cups) dry white wine
  • Method

    Wash the chicken or bones well in plenty of fresh water. Place in a stock pot with the wine and cold water to cover well. Bring to the boil. As the stock comes to the boil, a quantity of foamy scum will rise to the surface. This must be removed to improve clarity and flavour. Do so with a ladle. Add the remaining ingredients and reduce the heat to a simmer.

    Here is the most important part. The temperature has to be just right to ensure maximum flavour extraction without boiling the gelatin out of the bones and clouding the stock. What you are looking for is a good shuddering simmer on the surface of the liquid. Keep this temperature for one hour, skimming any more foam regularly.

    Strain the stock through a sieve and discard the solids. Place in the refrigerator overnight, allowing the fat to solidify on the surface. This will make the fat nice and easy to remove. You can now either use the stock for your recipe, or store it in the fridge or freezer for later use.

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