Friday, April 23, 2010

Chicken and Beef Stock

What can be simpler and more delicious than homemade stock? Nothing compares and you can make a whole bucket in advance and simply freeze it until you need it. No more mysterious powders and terrifying ingredients. A good base for anything, including healthy eating, is a simple handmade stock.

My good camera took the good photos of me preparing the stock, but then the camera died. So I give you just a photo of my freezer, with 6 bottles (3 litres) of chicken stock and four bottles (2 litres) of beef stock.

For the chicken stock, I simply threw a whole raw chicken into four litres of water along with some flavourings I wanted. I had leftover woody ends from aspargus I had for dinner and they make an excellent flavouring. Always always always add a celery stick, it makes a lovely base. I also chucked in an ear of corn and some rosemary, because that's how I like it. Throw whatever vegetables in your like the flavour of: carrots, parsnips, onions, bay leaves - all of it is optional and entirely preferental.

Bring this and four litres of water to a boil for ten minutes then put the lid on and turn the fire off. Let cool and you'll have 3-4 litres of chicken stock and a boiled chicken, which I use to make sandwiches all the next week.

For beef stock, simply do the same exact thing except using fresh marrow bones from the butcher. About a dollar's worth for four litres of beef stock makes a hefty stock. The only reason I have less beef stock than chicken stock is because I only have one pan that holds four litres so I made the beef stock in the crockpot and let it slow cook overnight on low, so I lost a lot of water.

For an added bonus: use the same pan you made dinner in, if it had the same meat. Some of the flavouring will rise from the bottom and create a delicious addition to the stock.

As you can see, I put mine in plastic beer bottles. Mainly because they're much easier to get in Australia than Ball jars and a lot cheaper. 16 bottles cost me $12, whereas here, 12 jars will cost me $24, before lids.

About half an hour before I intend on using it, I simply give it a bath in warm water and I always have fresh stock on hand - preseparated into 500mL (two cups) of stock, which tends to be the average amount a recipe calls for.

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