Chicken stock is a classic ingredient in many recipes, from soups and stews to sauces and gravies. While store-bought versions are readily available, making homemade chicken stock is a simple and rewarding process. It yields a flavourful and nutrient-rich base for a wide range of dishes. Moreover, using homemade chicken stock can help to reduce food waste. You’re repurposing chicken bones, vegetable scraps, and other ingredients instead of discarding them.
Is it really worth the trouble?
Of course! Stock, as the name suggests, is a fundamental ingredient in many dishes. The quality and flavour of the stock you use can make a real difference to the taste of any finished dish.
It’s super-easy to just boil water and crumble up a stock cube. But it will never taste as good as fresh stock, and homemade stock is best of all (there’s none fresher).
Every time I make roast chicken, I turn the leftover bird into a fantastic homemade chicken stock. It keeps in the fridge for a few days, so there’s usually plenty of time to plan another chicken dish. Homemade stock is ideal to use as the base for many dishes. Like soups, gravies, casseroles, and sauces – for example, this indulgent red wine jus.
If you don’t eat a whole roast chicken at once, strip off all the edible meat the day after cooking. Leave only the bones, gristle and undesirable fatty meat around the bird’s back. Use any leftover good meat to make other dishes, a tasty salad, or even just sandwiches.
If you made this succulent roast chicken (or a similar recipe), you’ll have leftover roasted vegetables. You can use these to make this stock, or use fresh veg – it’s up to you. For the former, place the leftover veg in a large saucepan. Add a little cold water and – once it’s cooled – leave the pan in the fridge overnight. All you need to do then is heat the pan and throw in the chicken and the water (plus a little seasoning) when you’re ready to make your stock.
Homemade chicken stock is better and more sustainable
There are several reasons why homemade chicken stock is superior to the store-bought variety. Firstly, homemade chicken stock is fresher and more flavourful, as it contains no preservatives or artificial additives. It also allows you to control the ingredients and customize the flavour profile to your liking. For example, you can add herbs, or spices. Or add aromatics like onion, garlic, and ginger to enhance the taste and aroma of the stock.
Secondly, homemade chicken stock is more nutrient-dense and healthy than store-bought versions. It retains more of the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids from the chicken bones and vegetables. Chicken bones are rich in collagen, which has been shown to improve skin, joint, and gut health, among other benefits. Vegetables like carrots, celery, and onions are also packed with vitamins and antioxidants that can boost immunity and reduce inflammation.
Thirdly, homemade chicken stock is more sustainable and economical than store-bought versions. By using chicken bones and vegetable scraps that would otherwise go to waste, you can save money and reduce your environmental footprint. Better still, you can freeze your homemade chicken stock for up to six months. That way you’ll always have some on hand, ready to make all sorts of other dishes.
So, next time you’re about to chuck away your leftover roast chuck, try turning it into delicious, homemade chicken stock instead.
Homemade chicken stock
- 1 whole chicken carcass, edible meat removed
- 3 carrots roughly chopped
- 2 onions peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 sticks celery roughly chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- sea salt
- black pepper
- 1.5 litres water
- To a large saucepan, add the onion, carrots, celery, bay leaves and chicken carcass, and add about 1 – 1.5 litres of water, so the chicken is nearly covered
- heat the pan until the water is boiling, then reduce the heat to a high simmer and leave to cook for 1 hour
- using a potato masher, carefully crush the chicken carcass to break the back and ribs and to release most of the remaining meat from the bones
- add the fresh thyme, season with salt and pepper and cook for another hour, occasionally mashing the mixture further, until the liquid is reduced by half
- after this time, take the pan off the heat, give the mixture another quick mash and then strain into another saucepan, using a conical sieve or fine colander
- if required, simmer the stock until about 500 ml (1 pint) of liquid remains
- leave to cool and then transfer into a Tupperware dish or other storage container
- your stock will keep in the fridge for a few days, or can be frozen and used within three months