Chicken Broth, or Stew. Or Soup

chicken broth

When my brother and I were little, after Christmas, my dad used to always make a turkey stew/broth/soup sort-of thing from the leftovers, and it was fantastic. Favouring fish fingers and chips, or the no longer available (at least I’ve not seen them for a long time) Bernard Matthew’s ‘Hamwich’, we used to start by turning our noses up at it, but he’d insist we try, and after a spoonful we were hooked. He’d make it in a pressure cooker, a piece of kitchen equipment that always made my mum anxious. But then most things make my mum anxious.

Next time you see one of those supermarket in-store-roasted chickens reduced in price because it’s been on display for too long, buy one, or two, and make this. Yes, I appreciate that it’s not going to be the best free-range bird but it’s still going to be good, really good, and it’s going to be super-cheap too.

First of all, when you get the bird home and out of it’s plastic bag (Sainsbury’s, Asda etc) or foil-lined paper bag (Waitrose), put it onto a dish and pull off all the meat you can – nice big pieces, and don’t forget those two little treats underneath. Then put the bones and skin into a big pot along with a quartered onion, some herbs (whatever you’ve got but ideally bay, rosemary, thyme and parsley stalks), some garlic, throw in a few black pepper corns, a couple of cloves, a carrot, some celery and leek if you’ve got that too. That’s all in an ideal world. Any of those will do, and if you don’t have them at all, even just the onion, and maybe some garlic too. Yes, you guessed correctly, you’re making stock and it is worth it. Bring it to the boil, lower it to a super low simmer, put a lid on and go to bed. It’ll be fine plopping away until you wake up in the morning. Or get on with something else if it’s morning when you started. Strain the stock through a sieve lined with muslin, put it back into the pan and reduce it down to half it’s volume. In my house we always think that the jumble of steaming bones and veg looks like an ogre’s tea – very Fee Fi Fo Fum.

Now it’s time to make the soup/stew/broth or whatever you want to call it.

Chicken Broth/Stew/Soup
1 onion (sliced)
1 clove garlic (sliced)
2 or 3 carrots (peeled and halved or quartered depending on size – you want pieces about as big as cocktail sausages)
2 or 3 potatoes large potatoes (Maris Piper’s are good) OR a handful of new potatoes
About a glass of white wine, or cider
Mushrooms (some, a couple of big flat ones or a handful of small ones, it doesn’t matter)
A quantity of the stock you made from that carcass
The meat from the chicken

Set a big casserole pan over the heat and fry the onion in a bit of oil and butter until softened, then add the garlic, carrot and potatoes. Add the wine and let it bubble down to half it’s volume before adding the meat and the stock and some pepper and maybe salt (depending on how salty the stock is). Oh, and the mushrooms. Then set the heat really low, put the lid on and give it an hour. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and have it with decent bread. Or make dumplings. And you can vary the vegetables that go in by adding broad beans, peas, cabbage, pak choi, anything you’ve got really. It’s one of those dishes. Just think about how long things take to cook, so something like pak choi would go in near the end. You know that though.

(George)

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