From Scratch

For the past two weeks I’ve been pretty excited about something I’ve always wanted to make: chicken stock. I grew up in a Chinese household where chicken stock equals the powdered version and I never understood the liquid chicken stock that people buy in grocery stores. It tastes really strange to me, to be honest. But I’ve seen the need for chicken stock with all the cooking I’ve been doing lately but I abhor the boxed versions. It tastes so salty!

Chicken stock

Chicken stock in the pot

I’ve officially become one of those people who cook too much and can’t buy any processed food at all (unless I really, really have to) because it disagrees with my sensibilities. My marketing habits have changed drastically because of this. Honestly, I spent $60 this week (including $14 for two buffalo Mozzarella balls) on groceries to cook 4 different meals for two, including enough for leftovers. And I didn’t even have to hit up the supermarket for any other ingredients. That’s how great it is when you make everything from scratch.

I found this recipe in one of the books I lugged all the way to Melbourne from KL. Yes, I am that crazy.

Chicken Stock
Adapted from Cook Simply Everything, recipe from Shaun Hill
Yields 1.5 litres stock

Ingredients
1 kg raw or cooked chicken bones
3 litres water
1 onion, quartered
1 leek, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
5 sprigs of rosemary
5 bay leaves

Chicken bones

Chicken bones/carcasses from the market. I got 1.5kg for only $1.

1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Place the chicken bones into a roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes. Transfer to a large pot or pan.

2. Pour any fat from the pan (I keep it for other uses), then add 500ml of the measured water. Bring to the boil, scraping up the burnt-on residues on the pan.

3. Pour this deglazing liquid over the roasted bones in the pot. Pour in the remaining water and bring to the boil.

Skimming

Skimming off foam and oil

4. Skim off any foam or fat then add the vegetables. Simmer, uncovered for 3 hours, or until the bones begin to disintegrate. If the water level drops below the ingredients, top it up. Constantly skim off any foam or fat you see floating on the surface.

Chopped vegetables

Chopped vegetables

5. Strain the stock into a jug or bowl, then leave the pot and contents for a minute or so. Any stock held in the bones will drop to the base, leaving another ladleful of stock.

Disintegrated bones

Collapsed bones. Confession: I pick at the meat left behind and eat it!

6. Leave the stock to cool – cover with a tea towel if necessary. When it reaches room temperature, skim off any remaining fat with a large spoon and then refigerate. Once chilled, the stock should jelly: the more leg bones used, the more gelatinous it will be.

Chicken stock

Chicken stock, cooling

It’s honestly one of the easiest things to make. Depending on what you use your stock for, you could add salt if you wanted. I don’t because I like to control what I use it with so I add the salt in when I use it. It’s already flavourful before the salt. I added the herbs even though the recipe didn’t call for it because I like the little extra oomph the herbs give to the aroma of the stock.

I’ve been using the chicken stock a lot (which I will talk about later) and it’s so pleasurable to open up the freezer and see a few containers of chicken stock ready for use. The rendered chicken fat from the bones I’ve used recently in a pasta dish I came up with and it was delicious (if a little naughty!).

I think I’m going to have to try out vegetable and fish stock soon. It makes me feel so healthy knowing that I know every single ounce of salt that went into my food and I know I’m using good and fresh ingredients, something I wouldn’t be able to guarantee with the boxed stock. It’s fantastic that chicken bones and the ingredients that go into the stock are so cheap, too. It’s a tiny bit time consuming but I make it every Sunday, right after I come back from the market. I just leave it simmering while I go about my chores.

My friends think I’m a little too obsessed because of my insistence on making things from scratch but look at how easy it all is!

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One Comment on “From Scratch”

  1. […] Ingredients 4 average sized potatoes (I don’t particularly care what type, I always buy the cleaned ones so it’s less work) 25 g butter (and more according to “feel”) 1/4 cup milk 2 pork chops 2 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter 1/2 bunch fresh sage, leaves plucked and chopped finely 1 apple, cored and thickly sliced 1/2 cup chicken stock (I used my homemade version) […]