Tuesday, 9 February 2016

My Homemade Chicken Stock

Since moving to my new apartment in Cannes, I have sussed out all the local fresh food markets (of course!). So every weekend, I have the pleasure of practising my French whilst seeing all the beautiful colours that each season brings. Last Saturday was no exception…after a trip to the marche Gambetta, a walk across the road took me to the ‘boucherie marche’. I’d passed it a couple of times and had noticed a long line of customers. So I plucked up the courage to go inside where two elderly customers were already being served. The butcher was busy with a big order of ‘deux escalopes de poulet, des oeufs frais, steak, etc’ and then said ‘qui est apres?’ (Who is next?)

‘Moi!’ I said…

‘Alors, madame (!), qu’est que vous voulez?’ (So, Madame, what would you like?)

‘Je voudrais un poulet fermier’ (I would like a free-range chicken)

‘Cuit? (Cooked?)

‘Mais non, juste un poulet entier…comme celui-ci’ I said pointing to the bird I wanted ’s’il vous plait’ (Ah no, just a whole chicken…like this one)

A series of questions followed, some of which I didn’t quite understand…

Later on, long after I had returned from the butchers, with some trepidation, I opened up the package. 

It seems that my lack of French culinary/ boucherie vocabulary left me with the chicken’s heart and a wobbly neck…can you imagine my face!

In spite of the wobbly neck, I do really recommend buying the whole chicken and learning how to chop it all up. You will not only save money, but I find there is something rather rewarding about using up every last piece, in some way or another. 

At home, we occasionally make our own homemade stock, but it is my two grandparents, who make a homemade stock every week out of whichever meat they have…ham bone, chicken, ox tail, you name it! So that is why I dedicate this recipe to them today. 



Ingredients:

1 whole chicken
1 red onion
8 garlic cloves (whole)
2 carrots (skin on)
any old herbs you have lying around…this week I used a large handful of fresh mint
1 inch piece of fresh ginger
salt and pepper

Method: 

I like to begin by pulling up apart the chicken (sounds brutal I know!). So start by cutting the thighs away from the breasts, and place aside.

Then, using the backbone as a guide, carefully slice away the two breasts, leaving you with the carcass and the two wings.

Of course you can take off the wings as well, but once I’ve had enough cutting up the other pieces, I tend to just poach this meat with the carcass. 

Place the carcass (and wings) into a large pot. 

Fill with enough cold water to cover the bird and add in the onion, garlic cloves, carrots, herbs, ginger and a generous amount of salt and pepper. 

Pop on a lid, bring to the boil for 10 minutes, skimming off any froth. 

Bring down to a low simmer, and cook for about 25-30 minutes. 

Pour the stock into another large pot over a sieve, catching all the vegetables and carcass. 

Allow to cool and store in the fridge/freezer to use as a base for delicious soups, stews, bolognaises, anything you can think of!