Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Greatest Chicken Stock(s)

Well, I don't think that 2 chicken stocks that are homemade can ever be the same - do feel free to add a comment if you want to challenge that!

A good habit

For the last few years I have developed a habit (I know I have to go to the clinic every week to check in and discuss with the therapists) for using the carcass of a chicken to make a stock. Ever since I discovered that you can freeze fresh chicken stock (thanks JB) it became a winner. Not only is it possible to squeeze every last flavour out of a roast (however good it turns out to be) but you also use up waste and create something you will need later. 

Variations on a theme

I have tried many things from garlic, onions, herbs, salt, pepper, frying off, dry roasting, adding vegetables, the residual meat juice etc. to be honest I am not sure that 2 are ever quite the same - but I can say that recently I've had a breakthrough that makes the stock tasty. And I think I will be sticking to it.

So what do I do and what seems to make a real difference?

As you may pick up, I am a bit of a reduce, reuse, recycle fan. So making stock from a leftover roast carcass was a no-brainer. Boiling the carcass with some other bits is OK but some small tweaks can make a significant difference to the flavour and value of the stock. 

The things listed below are what I have done for a chicken or turkey carcass but I am pretty sure they will make a difference to any meat stock / leftover carcass or bones if you use them to make a stock. I haven't perfected a vegetable stock but if I do, you will see it on this blog first!

1. Roast the carcass for about 20 mins

When you have taken the meat off the bone, whilst the family and friends (guests) are enjoying the meal, throw the carcass, bones and skin onto a baking tray (spread out) and put it back in a high oven. You will need to watch it a little to ensure the bone ends don't burn but I am guessing it will take around 20 mins.

2. Add Roasted Onions and Garlic 

It might be an acquired taste but adding fully roasted garlic and onions adds a depth (I have no idea what that really means but the pros say it!) to the flavour - it definitely makes it taste nicer. I would typically add 3 or 4 cloves of garlic and 1 large onion. 

I would suggest you peel and chop the onion into 4 and peel and crush the garlic - not sure you have to worry too much about the finer skin on either as it doesn't stay in the stock!

3. Don't add vegetables

I have added both cooked and uncooked vegetables in the past - and neither seem to make any difference at all. 

4. Add leftover meat juice and gravy

Juice from the roasting dish and any leftover gravy should be added to the roasted carcass, onions and garlic in a large boiling pot / slow cooker / pressure cooker. 

To ensure we get all the flavour, I tend to fill the roasting dish / pan with boiling water and add that to the stock too. 

5. Herbs and Spices

Other than water (enough to cover the carcass) the only other things that I add to the stick pot are:
  • 2 bay leaves
  • some mixed spices
  • a few whole pepper corns
  • a generous  dose of salt (about a good teaspoon for a litre of water - ish)

6. Cook properly

I've realised that I have got to know when things are cooked - I rarely use a timer (sometimes this backfires!). 

My preference is to use a pressure cooker as it uses less energy and retains the moisture of all the ingredients. When cooking stock I try to leave it cooking for at least 1 hour - if you forget and it cooks for longer it really doesn't matter!

It is ready when it looks like all of the meat will drop off the bones when you pick them up. Or when it looks rich and glossy on top. Or when it smells like you are re-living the delicious meal you cooked earlier!

What next - how to store

Early on I used large ice cube containers to batch up and freeze - after a while I realised that 1 ice cube was never enough so it seemed pointless to separate into such small portions. So I now use the small containers (about 250-300ml). One of these in 500ml of boiling water is ample for a good chicken stock. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Rachel Allen's Sticky Toffee Pudding and associated Toffee Sauce - Commentary!

I was going to put the recipe on this post but it appears to be listed rather a lot elsewhere! Here's one example - used simply because it is simple independent like me, making no money from the details!

But the important thing here is not the recipe - it's the commentary!

I made this for some friends yesterday and, as it is advertised, it is a sumptuous crowd pleaser that will satisfy both sweet and average tastes! It also goes particularly well with a Lustau (I don't like sherry but this is very different!), if you happen to have any lying around!

Unlike me, I followed the recipe to the letter / gram / measure but in hindsight, I would make a few changes. I wouldn't dare to say improvements for fear of upsetting Rachel, simply amendments that might enhance your pleasure of this recipe...

  • It serves 10 people eating a relatively balanced and average diet, not the 6 stated! To provide a little evidence, I baked it in a 100mm x 240mm (100mm deep) loaf tin. It filled the tin and cooked in the time stated perfectly. we each had a 6th and found ourselves needing to pause to rest our stomachs!  
  • Equally, the sauce serves 10 as well - actually, I have no idea because I have only tried to drown 6 servings with the quantity suggested. The measures help you to create around 1 litre of sauce. For 6, I think it is  a little too sweet! 
  • Use Earl Grey tea -  I am not sure if Jamie O stole it from Rachel A or vice-versa, but I think it works well. To be honest, I am not sure I could taste it but I did have a cold!. However, I would suggest that the slight lemony sweetness of Earl Grey cuts through the sweet stickiness of the pudding. 
  • Use a little more liquid (tea) or fat (butter) than stated. I added a little more than suggested but still thought it could benefit from some more. 
  • Add a little Baking Powder - if you are daring and think there is space in the tin / baking pan! - if you want it a little airier! - of course it then might serve more than 10!
I hear the little padding of feet upstairs and feel I should rescue my wife from our son!

Monday, July 07, 2014

Rhubarb and Streusel Bars

I can't take any credit for this other than the credit for passing on this amazing recipe and complementing it as a great way to use up rhubarb.

With more than our fair share of rhubarb there is always a crop ready to be cut and used. When faced with this along with a freezer that was already filled with pockets of frozen rhubarb (and other fruit!), I googled rhubarb cake recipe and found this. 

1.5 cups quick cooking rolled Oats (not sure why they need to be quick cooking but rolled is good!)
1 cup of all purpose Flour (I have no idea if this is Self Raising or not, i have used both and think Self Raising works better!)
3 / 4 cup of packed brown Sugar (I use soft brown sugar rather than dark but the latter would work I think!)
3 / 4 cup Butter
1 / 4 cup granulated Sugar
2 tablespoons of all purpose Flour (see comment above!)
1 / 2 teaspoon of Ground Ginger (I have used fresh ginger and it works. I used ground dried ginger last night and don't think that 1/2 teaspoon is enough, try twice this!)
2 cups of Rhubarb (The recipe says frozen unsweetened, I have used fresh, frozen and stewed and all seem to work!)


Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line 8x8x2-inch baking pan with heavy foil (I didn't realise you could get heavy foil, I use aluminium but guess it is all in the pronunciation?!) extended beyond pan edges (not sure why ?!).

In large bowl stir together oats, the 1 cup flour, and brown sugar. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse (the coarser the better - I would say very coarse!) crumbs (add more butter if it feels dry, I am not sure how you manage to measure butter in cups so I have guessed and more is definitely better).

Set aside 1 cup oats mixture. Press remaining on bottom of prepared pan (works well to use the back of a spoon to smooth over!). Bake 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in medium bowl stir together granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, and ground ginger. Add rhubarb; toss to coat. Spread on hot crust. Sprinkle reserved oats mixture; press lightly.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until top is golden and filling is bubbly. Cool on rack.

Lift from pan; cut into bars. Store, covered, in refrigerator up to 2 days (don't quote me but it lasts longer than this if you can resist it. I think 2 weeks has been my record as we forgot about them!).

Borrowed from the following website: