When we were running the cafe, we used to buy in organic chickens, portion them up, & make stock with the carcasses. At home we freeze the carcasses until we have half a dozen or more. Then we cook them up into stock, its an easy process & very satisfying as there’s so little waste, & the stock makes a real difference when making polenta, gravies, laksa, sauces, soups etc.

You need a big saucepan, we use an old preserving pan. Put in the chickens, cover with cold water, (most important, hot water seals in the goodies) roughly chop several onions, leaving the skins on, ( this adds a bit of colour) several scrubbed carrots, a few sticks of celery or Lovage, with the leaves, 3 or 4 bay leaves & about 10 peppercorns. You can add other herbs like parsley, thyme, sage if you like.

Bring to the boil & then simmer slowly for several hours until the flesh falls off the bones, & the liquid is reduced by about 1/3 Let this cool a bit, then strain through a sieve into a couple of large containers. These go into the fridge overnight. In the morning carefully take the containers out & gently scrape off the layer of fat that will have set on the top. Freeze the stock, with a label & date on for future use.

Next time you watch Rick Stein or Jamie Oliver making a dish that simply has to have real chicken stock in, you will be all set!

As an added bonus, I pick the meat & veges out & give them to the dogs & cat, so then there’s just the bare bones to dispose of.

Recipe no.2

I had a brainwave to make a more Asian flavoured stock, to put in Laksa, soups & curries etc. As an added bonus this smells divine while it’s cooking.Using the same method as above, but instead of adding carrots & Bay leaves, I added sliced green Ginger, Kaffir Lime leaves, roots & stalks of Coriander, Chillies, Celery leaves & Stalks, lots of Garlic & a few Black Peppercorns. I put in as much of each as I could spare & when the stock had reduced down I added some salt to taste, so that it’s ready to go.

Asian Style Chicken Stock