Monday, 17 October 2011

Stocking up for winter – part 1 Chicken

Free range chickens make better and healthier stocks
Meat, chicken and fish stocks are essential part of my fridge/freezer. Fresh stock can add delicious flavour to your meal as well many health benefits. You can make a good stock using beef, lamb, fish, poultry, game, pork and only vegetables. They give different flavours and different nutritional benefits. It is a very good idea to alternate between different types of stocks to obtain different nutritional compositions from each one. A good homemade stock is extremely nutritious and contains the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow and vegetables that are very easy for our bodies to absorb. Adding wine or vinegar during cooking helps to draw the minerals into the stock.

For many years homemade stock has been replaced by cheap substitutes and an important source of minerals has been removed from people's diets. The natural gelatin has been replaced by thickening agents and the natural protein has been replaced by vegetable hydrolysed protein containing free glutamic acid or MSG. 

This week, I’ll show you how I make my chicken stock (I had some left over parts given to me by my butcher). With winter on our doorstep, having this “natural penicillin” in a bowl is very handy. I have written about the benefits of chicken soup in a previous post here.

You can make a big pot that you can use in various dishes. The good thing about it is that it doesn’t take time to make (only the time it stays on the cooker). If you make the stock with the whole chicken, you’ll also have the meat to use in other dishes afterwards.

If you don’t want to buy a whole chicken, ask your butcher if he/she has leftover parts that they won’t use. My butchers from Meat Naturally, Patrick and Farza, are always happy to give me pieces for free. You can also freeze them and cook the bones straight from frozen.

So, let’s make stock! It's so easy!

Some of the ingredients. The onion, apple cider vinegar,
salt and pepper didn't make to the photo shoot
Cover the chicken pieces with cold filtered water.
Add the vegetables. Bring to a boil, remove the scums
that rises to the top. Let it simmer...
...for at least 3 hours
When the stock cools down, strain the liquid into a
container or...
...put them in an ice cube tray.
The meat I separated from the carcass...
...I added in the stock with some potatoes, carrots and
fresh coriander. A great tonic for the prevention of colds
and flu.

Chicken Stock

The gelatin, the protein from the cartilage and the connective joints melt during the slow simmering process  and gives the stock its body and rich flavour.
Use only organic or free range chicken and vegetables, if possible.

INGREDIENTS

Cold filtered water
A whole organic or free range chicken or a carcass fresh or frozen – if you can get the chicken feet or neck, even better
1 organic carrot, chopped
1 organic onion, chopped in half
1 bulb of organic garlic, chopped in half
1 organic celery stick, chopped
½ teaspoon of peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
A bunch of fresh thyme and parsley
Salt and pepper

METHOD

Start with fresh bones. They should smell fresh and have a healthy colour. Rinse them in cold water and place them in a big pot. Cover with cold water, making sure that all the bones are covered. Let it boil on a high heat, skim off the fat and impurities, then you turn down the heat to low and let it simmer – if you are cooking the whole chicken you should leave it for 6 hours or more. If cooking only the carcass, leave it for 3 hours or more. The longer you cook it the richer and flavoursome it will be. You can add more fresh herbs 10 minutes before finishing. This will provide additional mineral ions to the stock.

Remove all the chicken and pieces with a spoon. Let it cool. If you are using the whole chicken remove the meat from the bones. The chicken meat cooked in the stock is delicious and can be eaten with vegetables, in soups, salads, sandwiches etc.

Strain the stock into a large bowl and keep it in the fridge. The fat that will rise to the top and solidifies you can skim off. Keep the stock in covered containers or freeze them in ice cubes. The stock will keep for five days in the fridge or several months in your freezer.

You can have your stock daily, as a hot drink with some fresh herbs sprinkled on it. Or add it to your soups, casseroles, rice/risotto, noodles and whatever you like.

Some of the ingredients and their healthy benefits

Chicken stock is a boost to our immune system and stimulates the appetite.  It contains minerals such as calcium, magnesium, silicon, phosphorus and sulphur, which our body can easily absorb. It also provides natural chondroitin and glucosamine, which are important for our joints and to treat arthritis.

It supplies the gelatin that helps the lining of the intestine and the digestion  of dairy products. It is recommended for people who suffer from Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, leaky gut, colitis and other digestive problems.

Carrot (Daucus carota): is high in carotenoid, an antioxidant compound associated with many healthy benefits. They contain lutein and zeaxanthin (carotenoids present in our retina), which is why carrots are famously known for being good for your eyes. The carotenoids and vitamin A contents found in carrots are fat-soluble vitamins - when eaten with a little fat (olive oil, coconut oil, ghee etc) they are better absorbed by your body. Carrots are great for juicing and often chosen as part of detox programs. They also provide good levels of vitamin K, fibre, vitamin C, biotin, vitamins B1 and B6.

Garlic and onions: previously mentioned here.

More stock recipes to come...

Till next week!

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