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
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
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.
3. Don't add vegetables
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
- 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!