I find it incredibly satisfying to make my own stock. It’s such an easy process, but it’s time consuming and I so rarely have meat bones to make it with. We just don’t end up roasting a lot of meat as there’s only two of us, and despite being British, roast dinners aren’t really one of my favourites. Shock! Horror! They’re lovely but just so heavy.
Over Christmas my mum made Turkey stock with the leftover bird and It was so lovely in a chunky vegetable soup, I was prompted to get my arse in gear and think of a way to get homemade stock in my life more frequently – and also end up with really useful meat.
I’ve poached a chicken before and think it’s a brilliant way to ensure tender, flavoursome meat. I figured that if I poached a chicken and shredded it to retrieve the carcass, then let the stock bubble away again with the bones, I could make a damn decent stock. Plus, there’s the added benefit of that useful, gorgeous meat that’s much better to have on hand than a drying lump of roasted chicken.
Of course, you can add almost any herbs and veg to your chicken stock but I love the fragrant combo I’ve listed in the recipe below. The fennel, tarragon and star anise give a delicious, aniseedy fragrance that fills your kitchen. It gives a light stock that’s just asking to be made into a healthy udon broth – of course you could further reduce this stock to create a more concentrated stock, or just use it to flavour risottos, stews and soups. And you’ve also got the shredded poached chicken meat that is just divine. So silky, moist & full of the flavours of the stock. You can actually taste the aniseed. It’s the perfect cooked chicken meat to add to salads, tacos.. anything you like.
So the first thing I did with my meat and light stock is to turn it into noodle soup by adding a little sugar, soy sauce, mirin and rice wine vinegar to the stock, and sauteeing some oyster mushrooms in chilli, garlic and ginger. I simmered the stock with mange tout, some chicken meat and udon noodles and a perfect winter Sunday dinner resulted.
You will need:
1 small-medium free range whole chicken
1/2 a bulb of fennel, halved
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped, skins on
2 sticks celery, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves
2 knobs of ginger unpeeled
1 star anise
2 bay leaves
Small bunch of tarragon stalks/leaves
Bunch of thyme
1 – Place all of the ingredients in a big stock pot large enough to comfortably hold the chicken. Cover with water and then put the lid on the pan and put it over a high heat.
2 – Bring to the boil, then very gently simmer (so that it barely bubbles) the chicken for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep the pot covered. Leave to cool completely. This will take hours.
3 – Remove the chicken and shred the meat, discarding the skin and any gristle – keep covered in the fridge til needed. Return the carcass to the pot of stock and vegetables and boil for another hour or so, or longer if you want a more concentrated stock. Turn off and leave the stock to cool a little.
4 – Pluck the carcass and big veg bits out of the pan. Strain the stock through a sieve lined with a new jay or muslin cloth. Discard anything left in the sieve.