t's richer than vegetable stock, easier to get right than beef stock, and so satisfying in the winter when you have a cold. It's wonderful as a base for Asian dishes of all sorts. Stock is an also an easy way to add flavor to recipes without a lot of extra calories or salt, and you can cook pretty much anything in it.
Basic Chicken Stock
4 lbs. or about 2 kgs of chicken
1 – 2 onions
1-2 inches of ginger
2-3 garlic cloves
3 whole, fresh tomatoes
1 bay leaf
Lemon grass (optional)
Don't get the yummy eating parts of the chicken (legs, breasts) - go for the extra bits. In the US you can get chicken backs at almost any butcher counter - you just have to ask because they don't put them out in the case. Feet and heads also make great stock.
If you live somewhere where you can get a yardbird - an old chicken that's lived its life pecking in the grass, these make amazing stock. But be warned, if you get one fresh killed, you need to soak it in a vat of salt water in the fridge for about 3 days, until the rigor mortis wears off, and that will up the sodium content considerably. If you do use one, cut it into parts before you put it in the stock pot and save the meat for something else when it's done.
Put the chicken in a pot and add water until the meat is just covered, partially cover with a lid and bring it to a simmer. Skim off the scum that gathers at the surface of the pot. Simmer for 2-3 hours.
Now add the vegetables. If you add the vegetables at the start, all their flavor will degrade by the time the chicken is done, so add them for the last hour of cooking. Let the vegetables cook with the chicken for about an hour, then strain. Let it sit in the fridge overnight and any fat will harden into a white crust on the top of your stock and you can scrape it off. The stock should be gelatinous - how gelatinous depends on how much water evaporated away during cooking and how much bone/cartilage you started with.
Lorraine currently lives in Morocco with her husband and daughter where she teaches Oceanography and Geology at a local English language university. She enjoys camping, hiking, SCUBA diving and handstands.