There is really nothing as soothing, reassuring or comforting in the realm of cooking and eating than a good chicken stock. It forms the base to all of the best soups, broths and gravies, can be used to give pasta dishes more depth and is the essential ingredient that will make or break a really good risotto.
We try not waste a single thing and making stock is a sort of ritual on Sunday nights or Monday mornings after we have gorged ourselves happily on a roast chicken dinner.
We never really make a chicken stock from a fresh chicken although if you are doing this you can lift it out of the pot after an hour or so and take the meat off in thick juicy slices and serve it in a French baguette with salt, mayonnaise and crisp lettuce, a heavenly way to eat chicken.
Another method involves buying a few kilos of chicken wings and either roasting them or using them fresh to make your stock. We think it best, however, to give yourself the ritual of Sunday roast followed by the making of a delicious stock.
It is for us, all about being practical when using meat and poultry.
If you choose to eat meat you have a responsibility to both the animal and the environment to only buy and use what you can manage. Roast chicken on a Sunday is so good but you are left with a large carcass which will probably still have a surprising amount of meat clinging to it.
This is a reassuringly simple recipe, with very few ingredients all made in the one pot. It will however, take a little time.
By simmering it on a low heat for a long period of time, the flavours of the chicken, herbs and vegetables will be present in the finished stock in a deep, robust way, which makes this stock very special indeed. We recommend leaving it bubble away for two hours, but keep an eye on it, if it is on too high then the stock will reduce too much, add a little more water if this starts to happen and turn the heat down.
Roast chicken remains, including any gravy/jelly/skin
1 to 2 leeks
1 stick celery
1 to 2 tomatoes
6 to 8 peppercorns
a good pinch of seasalt
Take a large deep pot or casserole dish and place all of the leftover chicken in, the carcass, bones, skins, any bits of meat, gravy or jelly. Add the peppercorns, rinsed but not peeled or cut vegetables, salt and herbs. Cover the lot with water so that everything is submerged.
Bring to a quick boil and then turn down to a simmer so that the liquid is only very gently bubbling.
After an hour of two of cooking the liquid will have become pale golden in colour and the aroma should be deeply satisfying.
Lift the carcass out and set aside, then strain the liquid through a sieve into a bowl.
Leave to cool and then refrigerate. When cooled, the fats will have formed a lid which you can easily scoop off, chicken fat is a great thing to use when cooking vegetables like cabbage. You can now freeze the clear chicken stock.
Using udon noodles is a fairly recent revelation to us. We were far more accustomed to using the thin soba or ramen noodles, immersed in delicious broths of a deep umami character.
These udon noodles are of course much thicker, alarmingly so when you first encounter them. They have often been described as being like fat worms but when you get over all of that, there is something revelatory about them. They allow a sauce to really cling to them and their softness is comforting.
Kimchi is relatively easy to find these days with most of the supermarkets having it in one form or other. The best kimchi will be in specialist asian stores that you can find if you live near any city. You can of course leave out the egg yolk if eating raw egg is not your thing, If you do use them be sure to use organic or free range eggs from a good supplier.
Makes 4 bowls
150g of kimchi, chopped
2 tablespoons of gochujang or other asian hot pepper paste
200ml of chicken stock
400g udon noodles, cooked
3 scallions, sliced diagonally into thin slices
4 egg yolks
4 scallions, sliced diagonally, green ends discarded
1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds
Heat butter in a large frying pan over a medium high heat. Add the chopped kimchi and hot pepper sauce, stirring occasionally until the kimchi is softened and slightly caramelising, This should take around four minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer, cooking until the liquid is slightly reduced, about three minutes.
Cook the noodles, by boiling them in a pot of salted water, according to package instructions. If using those ready cooked udon noodles, add to the stock and stir to loosen them.
Drain the noodles and add to the frying pan, tossing them in the sauce until well coated, check for seasoning and add salt if needed.
Divide between four bowls and top with egg yolks, sesame seeds and sliced scallions.
‘Risi e bisi’ means ‘rice and peas’ and there really isn’t a better way of describing this dish, only to say that it is of course a risotto.
The chicken stock you use will be the thing that makes this dish special so make sure you use a good one you’ve made like the one we have given here. Don’t over use the mint if you are sensitive to it as a solid savoury flavour, you can use basil if you really want, but mint is a classic and wonderful accompaniment to peas. If you are making this in spring or early summer you may of course use fresh peas which you shell yourself, add them a little earlier to ensure they become tender.
1.2l of chicken stock
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Garlic cloves, thinly sliced
200g arborio rice
100ml of dry white wine
300g frozen peas
2-3 tablespoons of fresh mint, chopped
Zest of half lemon
60g of parmesan, grated, plus more for serving
Sea salt and black pepper
Bring your stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan and keep warm over a medium low heat.
Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan and add onion, stirring it often until soft and golden.
Add the garlic and cook, stirring for another minute or so before adding the rice and 50g of butter.
Stir the rice through the onion, garlic, oil and butter until it is very well coated.
Season with a little sea salt and stir continuously for around two minutes, being very careful not to let the rice grains stick to the pan. Add the white wine and stir until the pan is starting to dry out, the wine will have thickened with the butter.
Using a ladle, add stock to the frying pan, stirring continuously until the pan is drying out before adding another ladle of stock.
Add your peas around half way through the process and continue on until all the stock has been incorporated and the rice and peas have softened.
Stir in mint, lemon zest and parmesan, season with cracked black pepper and divide into bowls. Garnish with some extra mint and parmesan and enjoy.