Stepping into my mother’s kitchen when I was growing up was always a joy. The promising sound of the pestle and mortar pounding by 10 am was enough to start my stomach growling (even though I’d only just eaten breakfast an hour earlier!). Every Sunday mum would come home with a car load of fresh produce from the wet market, super market, hyper market, and all sorts of markets and shops, just to make sure she gets the best of everything for us whenever she can. Not only the best fresh produce, mum always made sure that she had containers of freshly made stock in the freezer, ready to be used in all her delicious cooking. I on the other hand, can only wish I had half of my mother’s care towards food. Until recently, I have been reaching for the instant stock cubes while completely oblivious to its contents and ingredients. I naively thought that the stock cubes are dehydrated pure chicken stock and nothing else until I noticed in the ingredient section that it contains MSG! (I shall not mention the brand of the stock cube but all I can say is it starts with a K and ends with an R!). I have a strict no-MSG policy in my kitchen as much as I can help it and I do not care how ‘good’ it makes my food taste. I am not going explain the detrimental effects of MSG in your diet to your health (there’s a wealth of reading material on it online) but discovering that fact about stock cubes was enough to make me follow in the foot steps of my mother, and that is to prepare home made stock myself. Let me add that while making my first chicken stock, I could not stop myself from slurping the delicious stock as it tasted so good and fresh. I make sure that I have the freshest ingredients for my stock as I want my stock to have a clean and fresh taste, and I am happy to have achieved that. I recently had a conversation about home brewed stock with a friend who introduced home made stock to her family, and she noticed how it has changed the health of her family, for the better. I can go on forever talking about home made chicken stock (I really can) and its benefits but it’s getting late, so maybe not tonight *yawnnn*. So now lets get started!
2 whole chicken (approximately 600 – 800 g per chicken) – You can use chicken parts and I know many people do, but I just prefer to use whole chicken.
4 sticks of celery
4 large carrots
2 large bowls (1 bigger than the other)
1. Place the chicken in the stock pot and fill up the stock pot with water until the chicken is completely covered (you can place the chicken anyway you like but I thought they looked cute facing each other :)). Cover the pot and put to simmer on low fire for 60 – 90 minutes. Note: If you’re living in areas where the tap water is hard (like London!), it would be best to use filtered water in your cooking.
2. While the chicken is brewing, prepare the vegetables. Skin and cut up the carrots, celery and onions in large chucks.
3. After 60 – 90 minutes, remove the lid of the pot and place the vegetables into the pot. Let the stock simmer on low fire with the lid removed for another 45 – 60 minutes until the colour of the stock changes. Taste the stock before and after adding in the vegetables and you will be able to tell the difference in taste and depth.
4. When the stock is almost ready, prepare a large bowl of water filled with ice/ ice packs. On top of that bowl, place another bowl which will be used to cool down the stock. It is important to cool down the stock quickly as this prevents long exposure of the stock to the surrounding which may cause the stock to spoil easily. Place a muslin cloth and a sieve in the bowl to ensure the stock is clear and clean.
5. When the stock is ready, pour the entire content of the pot into the sieve. Be careful when doing this as the stock is hot and the large pieces of vegetables and chicken are a little tricky to handle. Let the stock drip out of the sieve naturally and do not press the on the solids in the sieve. Remove the sieve once the stock has stopped dripping.
7. Using a clean ladle, stir the stock to help it cool down quickly. Once the stock has completely cooled down, transfer the stock into clean containers. I tend to use plastic food bags as they do not take up too much space in the freezer.
The stock is now ready to be stored and can be thawed in small quantities when required. I personally find it so convenient to have small bags of chicken stocks in my freezer especially when I’m in a rush and all I want is a bowl of soupy noodles. All I have to do is put the frozen stock in a pot (with the bag removed of course) with all my ingredients, boil some noodles, and within 10 minutes, I have a healthy bowl of soupy noodles 😀
I try to make my stock on a weekly basis and I know some people may find it to be a hassle, but I think it is worth trying to make it at least once, and taste the difference in your cooking.
Till then, all the best in brewing you home made chicken stock,