Over the past month I’ve been religiously making my own chicken stock – something I am not known to do on a regular basis having felt that for most things, store-bought is just fine. Perhaps I’m just nesting, but recently, the smell coming from the stock pot simmering away all Sunday afternoon has made me happy and knowing I have this wholesome broth (not to mention the delicious poached chicken itself) to play with all week, gives me a great head start on my week.
Literally all I do is put the whole chicken in a large pot, cover it with water and add whichever of the following I have leftover: bay leaves, whole black peppercorns, parsley, leek, onion, garlic, carrots, celery. One time I only had parsley, peppercorns and a bay leaf and it was still delicious. Chop the vegetables up very roughly and turn on the heat. Allow this to bubble, topping up the water so the chicken stays covered, for about 3 hours. Now remove the chicken, drain the stock through a fine sieve and set aside the liquid to cool.
Now what?? Well, I’ve been taking a couple of cups of the stock and spicing it up with finely diced ginger, lemongrass, garlic and chilli (maybe a piece of star anise if you’d like). If you let that simmer on the stovetop for 20-25 minutes and then strain it again you have a delicious, zingy Asian style broth. To this you can then add bok choy or cabbage or spinach, some sliced mushrooms, baby corn. Let the vegetables cook until tender and then pour the broth into bowl into which you’ve placed a small mound of prepared rice noodles and some of your poached chicken, shredded. Top this off with some chopped cilantro, a scattering of chopped peanuts, a large pinch of bean sprouts and a dollop of sriracha hot sauce and you’ve got a super-fast dinner that would make even Rachel Ray’s head spin!
I advise taking your time pulling all of the meat off of the chicken carcass – there’s something therapeutic about the process to me. It will just fall apart but I want to make sure there’s absolutely no cartilage or bone fragments in my meat (it seriously puts me off my entire meal if I get one nasty bite). Now it’s ready to provide you with a couple of more meals throughout the week. I had some leftover cooked rice in my fridge one week and made a very simple chicken soup with rice with a couple of carrots, celery, onions and my superdelicious broth.
But my favorite thing to do with this juicy chicken is make chicken salad. My version involves taking about 1/4 cup of mayo (low fat is fine, no fat is not) a heaped tablespoon of dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Mix that well and add your chicken to it – the chicken should be coated but not dripping in sauce so adjust your ingredients according to how much chicken you have. Now take some toasted pecans and chop those up and cut a handful of grapes in half and chop up some fresh tarragon. To me this is better than dessert and when it’s sitting in my fridge it calls my name, beckoning me to eat it all!
So I hope I’ve given you a little inspiration and perhaps a project for this coming weekend. It’s supposed to be a blustery, cold one here in London – perfect for making more delicious chicken stock and settling in with a hearty bowl of something homemade. (And please forgive my lack of photos, but I just can’t seem to bring myself to take a picture of everything I make as I’m going along – I’ll get better, I promise).