‘Brown’ Chicken Stock – A simple and painless route to better cooking…

In my mind, the real pain about making stock is the removal of everything at the end, the pouring through colanders from one (often huge and heavy) pan, into another and the filling of bin bags with messy waste. This is an easy recipe which avoids a lot of this; no unnecessary fine chopping, no annoying chicken wings and bones to fish out and no annoying cooling process in order to remove the fat layer.

I recommend making friends with a butcher and getting them to save their chicken carcasses for you. I get mine for free, but a lot of butchers will provide them at £1 a kilo or less as they are essentially a waste product for them. They still have plenty of meat on them, they also have gelatin in their bones which helps to make a thick quality stock, but removing them at the end of the cooking process is also a synch and this is very important if you are to bother making a batch of stock more than once followed by being put off!

This is a recipe for just 5 kilo of carcasses, however I usually do 10 -15kg at once in a big 50l pan – just multiply the recipe accordingly.

You will read a lot of the time that you must start a stock with cold water, in my experience this doesn’t make any difference, even Raymond Soklov of “The Saucier’s Apprentice” apprentice fame starts with a rolling boil and adds the meat. So I suggest while you are cooking the carcasses (step 1 below), you fill your pan with water (1.5 * litres of water as the weight of meat, therefore 7.5 litres in this case) and start heating it.

  1. Cook your chicken carcasses, 20-30 mins at 180c (This is what makes the ‘brown’ bit of the stock’s name. Essentially this gives a deeper colour and a more chicken flavour to your stock. If you choose to omit this bit that is ok but I prefer a brown stock in a lot of dishes and a white, fond blanc, in others).
  2. Add the whole carcasses to the water and bring to a rolling boil and skim off any scum that rises
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer for 3 hours
  4. Remove and discard the carcassesYou may have too many carcasses for one pan full. If so then repeat steps 1-3 but use the stock from the first batch for the second batch etc. This is what is called making a ‘Consomme’ – a strong stock served like a soup, often as a starter in restaurants.
OK so that’s the meat bit done. Many recipes tell you to add the veg with the meat, but that’s just messy and annoying so we are now going to flavour the meat stock separately.
You now need to add a ‘mirepoix’ of vegetables. Whole is fine, you will be boiling for an hour which is plenty of time for the liquid to cook and completely permeate the vegetables and extract all of their flavour. Again, they are easier to remove than a thousand different chopped up pieces. Remember, these amounts are for 5kg of meat so multiply accordingly.
  1. 5 onions
  2. 2.5 carrots (any more and the stock gets far too sweet)
  3. 5 stalks celery
Also add some herbs, you can add these tied together in a bunch; a bouquet garni;
  1. Average bunch of parsley
  2. Bunch of thyme
  3. 2.5 bay leaves
Boil (yes, boil) for 1 hour, remove the veg and herbs and reduce so that you have 5 litres of stock or that you are happy with the flavour. You can now season with salt, but don’t go too mad, perhaps 2.5g per litre.
Now strain the stock into a clean pan using a double layer of  J-Cloth, this catches all the excess fat and saves you having to cool the stock until the fat forms a layer on time. J-Cloths are a cooks best friend!
Put in 500ml containers and freeze until needed.

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