OK, I accept it, I got carried away ….. I will have to make lots of soup this winter.
I read in Choice magazine not so long ago that most of the chicken stock we buy from the supermarket is just reconstituted stock cubes. I had been buying chicken stock in preference to stock cubes and to find the chicken stock was probably no different from stock cubes, but costing me so much more, was devastating.
The ingredients of the chicken stock cubes I have (which I am sure are typical) are, in order of contribution: wheatflour, salt, glucose syrup, flavour enhancer 621 (that’s MSG), yeast extract, flavouring, chicken fat, potato starch, chicken extract, onion extract and colour 150c (that’s ammonia caramel). Mmmmmmm….
A dish like risotto, where the flavour of the stock is important, can be ruined by bad chicken stock.
About six months ago (in anticipation of retiring) I bought a pressure canner. I saw them on sale at Redback Trading Company (which, by the way, is a good site).
I had wanted one for years and years but they were never available in Australia. I would spend nights sitting looking lovingly at them on Amazon, and even putting them in my cart, knowing too well it could never be (Amazon only posted books and CDs to Australia at that time). With the Australia dollar being so strong, the canner I bought was half the price (in Australian dollars ) as compared to when I had previously checked them out. The Australia dollar at that time had been languishing around US$.50.
Now I had my new canner, I wanted to make chicken stock. I have made chicken stock before and frozen it but it takes up so much room in your freezer, you forget it’s there and it takes electricity to keep it. With the emphasis today on reducing our energy usage, my canner was the go.
My first real use for my canner was found. I had made bulk dog food with it before but that doesn’t count as I was really using it as a massive pressure cooker.
I know you don’t really need a recipe for chicken stock but, nonetheless, I decided to roughly follow Damien Pignolet’s recipe from his cookbook french.
- 2 tbs vegetable oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 1 stalk of celery, sliced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1 leek, sliced
- 100g mushrooms, sliced
- a bouquet garni
- 750g chicken necks
- 1kg chicken wings
I doubled the vegetables and used :
- 1.4kg chicken wings
- 1kg necks
- 2.3 kg chicken carcasses. (I had more but 3 little Bichons insisted that I give them one to munch on while I was making the stock.)
I made the bouquet garni out of 2 outer leek leaves, parsley, thyme, bay leaves and lime peel.
Even though the process is a bit protracted, the result is a lovely clear stock.
- Wash the chicken in cold water.
- Put the chicken in saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and then wash the chicken again in cold water. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a large saucepan, add the vegetables and stir to cover them in the oil. Cover the pan and turn down heat to allow the vegetables to sweat for 15 minutes. (Do not allow them to brown.)
- Add chicken and bouquet garni to the vegetables.
- Cover generously with water and bring to the boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer gently for 3 hours.
- Strain through a fine sieve.
Put in containers and freeze or, better still, pour into sterilised 500ml or 1 litre jars.
Process in pressure canner at 11 pounds pressure for 20 minutes for 500 ml jars or 25 minutes for litre jars. If you live above 2,000 feet altitude, check your manual for the appropriate pressure.
Pressure canning is quite frightening for the first time. It is hard to imagine that the jars will not burst under all that pressure … but they didn’t. The manufacturer of the pressure canner recommends that you use Mason jars, but they are very expensive. You are not supposed to use second hand jars (like the ones we buy our mayonnaise in) as they have been manufactured to withstand only one heat process but Valerie, from Green Living Australia, states that she uses second hand jars all the time. You should always use new lids to ensure you get a proper seal. Because I was sooo nervous the first time, I used new jars. We will see how brave I get.