Don’t throw away them bones! Make chicken stock!

boiling soupThis is a real bone of contention in our family. *Pun intended.

Every time we have chicken – a roasted chicken, wings, a chicken flattie, I am after the bones. And they sometimes go into the bin and sometimes into the dog's bowl. Aijaijai, what a waste! (Not that I don't love the dogs, no dogs were harmed in the writing of this blog).

The waste is this – those bones are destined for the stock pot. When I waitered at Randpark Club in Johannesburg as a kid, I was seconded once to come and stir the stock pot, and paid a bonus for doing this. This was an enormous pot in an industrial kitchen, and, for a kid, it was an intriguing mess. I had thoughts of Hansel and Gretl and the witch's pot. But I will always remember the smell. It was inviting and for some reason made me salivate. 

Today I understand it better. The flavour and the taste of real chicken stock in cooking is the best kept secret, and an unattainable pinnacle of culinary delight for the lazy. 

And it is so simple, that I am even amazed that I am writing this.

Chicken stock is about flavour, and specifically three veggies, one herb and one spice. 


Chicken bones As many as you could save. Carcass is the best – the backbone to tail part of a roasted chicken.
Onions 2 large onions
Carrots 3 large carrots, not skinned and cut into 2cm cuts
Celery stalks 3 stalks, leaves and all. chopped to 1cm chunks
Bay leaves 2 fresh out of the garden
Cloves 2 and only 2
Garlic Only if you choose to. No more than 1 clove.
Salt A Tablespoon
Water 2 liters. (it will reduce to 1l).

How we go about it: 

It's all about "sweating" – not you, the veggies. I pour in a teaspoon of oil, the cloves and bay leaves, the onions and (if I chose) the garlic, and I saute them until golden brown. I then add the chopped veggies and I sweat it all until it is soft. I then add the bones and the salt and stir it every now and then. When all the flavours have been nicely developed, I add the water.

And not it just stands on a very slow stove and simmers. One of my personal dreams is a perpetual stock pot on an AGA stove – a pot that just keeps on simmering and you just add water and veggies to it as you go along, and use it directly from the pot. 

But, waking up, after an hour or two – the longer, the better, it is ready. It should have reduced to about a liter. 

I now Bamix it. it destroys the bones, and there are just a few shards left when you are finished, but all of the lovely flavour is cokked out of the bones. 

Pour it through your stock strainer (or your seive), otherwise you will have a very sandy mouthful from the bone shards. 

Let it cool and pour it into either zip-lock bags or into 1 liter plastic containers. Freeze. Tip: A flat zip-lock bag saves a lot of space in the freezer and defrosts in seconds in the micro-wave. 

It is so delicious, that, a few months ago, Heidi thought it was a soup I made and she gave it to Ben for lunch. He enjoyed it and I got some compliments. And it wasn't even finished yet! You can use chicken stock in virtually everything, even beef and lamb recipes. 


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