Wednesday, 14 August 2013

What To Do With Leftovers: Farmhouse Homemade Chicken Stock

Last week Waitrose's Essentials British Whole Chickens were 3 for £10, and as on Saturday the centrepiece of my Summer dinner party is going to be spiced chicken, Ottolenghi style I decided to take advantage of the offer and joint the chickens myself to produce an assortment of breast, thigh, leg and wing pieces. As a result of this I had two fresh chicken carcasses in front of me, and so not to let anything go to waste I decided to make 3 pints of overnight stock to freeze and use in Winter stocks; so much better than stock cubes. 
Now, as this stock is supposed to be a way of both producing something homemade, additive free and delicious as well as saving money at the same time I would not recommend everyone with any type of kitchen set up should make it; leaving an electric cooker on overnight for the stock to cook would be very expensive after all. I make mine in the warming oven of an AGA, so if you have an AGA or a similar stove that is always on, this recipe is perfect for you. Alternatively  if you are making a slow, long cooking stew so your oven will be on anyway, you can cook your stock at the time time during the day. Also, if you live somewhere like student halls where all your utility bills are included, you can make this stock without having to worry about the bill, but perhaps make it on a weekend when you are in studying all day, as leaving an oven on in halls all day unattended might get you into a bit of trouble! (Even if it is worth it!)
While I made my stock with raw chicken carcasses which is what I had to use up, but this recipe also works perfectly well with your cooked carcass at the end of a roast chicken. In both instances, to make better and healthier stock try to remove as much of the skin and fat as possible from your carcass before adding it to the pot.

  • 1-2 Chicken Carcasses
  • 1-2 Large Carrots
  • 2 Celery Sticks
  • 2 White Onions, peeled and quartered
  • Small Bunch Fresh Thyme
  • Small Bunch Fresh Parsley
  • 1 Dried Bay Leaf
  • 6-8 Whole Black Peppercorns
  • 1-2 Generous Pinches Sea Salt 
  • Water

If you are not cooking on an AGA, pre heat your oven to 130 degrees (265 degrees fahrenheit). Add all the ingredients to a large, sturdy, heavy bottomed stewing pot (this one is by Le Creuset) with a lid and top up with enough water so that everything that does not float is covered. Bring to the boil on a high heat and simmer until dark scum from the chicken has formed on top of the water. Skim off with a spoon and discard. Put on the lid and put in either the oven or the bottom warming oven of your AGA if you are using one overnight, or for about 8 hours.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool to the touch with the lid on. Once the stock pot is cool, using a large ladle put the stock into a jug through a large sieve so all the vegetables and herbs are left behind. Discard the vegetables. You can now either ladle the stock into pots however you want to freeze it (this stock is quite rich, so I'd say if you needed a litre of stock for a soup recipe you used 500ml stock and 500ml water, just to give you an idea of portions), or skim off the excess fat from the top either with a spoon, or by using a special fat separator jug before freezing.

What are your cooking, kitchen and recipe tips to minimise waste from leftovers? 


  1. Lovely post and you cannot beat homemade stock - I use seafood shells and prawn heads to make a really rich fish stock and leftover vegetable peelings for vegetable stock. Also made bread and butter pudding last night with the half a loaf of nearly stale bread in the cupboard. Bubble and squeak is also great for leftover veg after a roast dinner!

  2. Prawn and seafood shells for a rich fish stock? Now why on earth have I not thought of that/ read about that before?! And sounds amazing - thanks for the other ideas too!