How to Make Chicken Stock

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We make chicken stock everyday in the restaurant, usually brown for bases to sauces and braises with the occasional white stock for soups or cream based sauces. Of all the stocks, chicken is probably my favourite, I love to flavour it with different herbs and once made I like to pass it through a fine mesh sieve and reduce it to a concentrated glaze giving me a rich flavour with a deep colour.

Brown Chicken Stock

For me, the key to a good chicken stock is to know when to stop cooking, if the carcase (in the case of brown stock) has been roasted to perfection and the vegetables cooked slowly until well browned then the colour, flavour and body will quickly come to the fore, what I look for is a stock which has taken on the flavour of the bones, vegetables and other flavouring ingredients whilst retaining freshness. One thing I never do with chicken stock is adding wine, it destroys the taste, and like vegetable stock it is meant to be kept simple and to help enhance the taste of the overall end product.

Aromatics are important, bay is an essential as are peppercorns, other herbs can be mixed and matched such as thyme, savory and sage depending on the dish you are cooking, just remember not to overdose on any one flavouring, ultimately you want to taste chicken and the aromatics should be used to bring that out rather than suppress it.

I am purposely avoiding giving an exact recipe for stock, you donít need one. For the home cook a perfectly good stock can be obtained from using the leftover trimmings and peelings of onions, carrots, celery and leeks. If you have one chicken carcase then one carrot, one celery stick, half a leek, one onion and a couple of cloves of garlic is more than enough.

For a white chicken stock place the carcase in a pan and cover with cold water, bring to the boil then add the peeled vegetables and aromatics, simmer and skim off any scum from the surface for no more than two hours. Pass through a fine sieve.

For a brown stock, roughly chop the vegetables and cook in a little olive oil until well browned, add a tablespoon of tomato paste and cook out for a further five minutes. Whilst the vegetables are cooking roast some chicken wings or a couple of chicken legs until golden then add to the vegetable mixture. Alternatively add your leftover cooked chicken carcase. Cover with cold water; add five or six peppercorns, a couple of bay leaves and a generous sprig of the herbs mentioned above. Bring to the boil and gently simmer for no more than two hours. Pass through a fine sieve.

Content and picture © Miles Collins