One thing my family taught me was to never waste food. While other children were eating broccoli florets, I can remember eating thinly sliced broccoli stalk sauteed in garlic or chicken dumplings using the meat we pulled off chicken carcasses. Nothing ever went to waste in our kitchen if my mother had anything to do with it! Minimising what gets thrown in the trash just made good sense.
This is certainly one of the lessons I have tried to carry into my adult life - most of our vegetable scraps go to our guinea pigs or into the compost and our left over chicken bones go towards next few months' worth of stock.
The best thing about homemade chicken stock is that there is no exact quantity you have to follow. All you need are 4 basics - chicken carcasses, celery, carrot and onion. I don't even add that much salt because that depends highly on the type of dish in which you will add your stock.
The ingredients I use for my chicken stock are slowly amassed over a a month or two, as a product of all the lunches and dinners in the Abraham household. Every time we have a roast chicken, the chicken carcass gets wrapped up in a plastic bag in the freezer. Every time an onion is diced, about one fifth of it goes into a freezer bag, along with carrot tops and raggedy celery bases (note: a lot of onion goes into the bag because I'm scared I'll cut my fingers off if I get too close to the end).
My special trick is to pour all the finished stock into Glad Ice Cube Bags for storage. The flexibility means that I can fit them in any part of the freezer, around whatever else is already there.
I tend to use a lot of chicken stock in my cooking - as a base for soups and hotpots, extra flavour when making stir fries or even when cooking rice in lieu of water. Making your own stock is a great way to use up the left over veggies that aren't pretty enough for your other recipes, not to mention the feel good factor in knowing that you have minimised waste - my mother would approve.
Homemade Chicken Stock (Makes 3L)
Left over bones from 2 cooked chicken carcass
Celery tops and bottoms
Carrot skins, tops and bottoms
Onions, with the brown skins removed
3 small bay leaves
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp salt
1. Place all the ingredients into a deep stock pot. Mine is about 5 litres.
2. Add enough cold water to just cover all of the ingredients and bring the pot to a boil.
3. Once the water has boiled, turn the heat down to keep it at a low simmer. Continue to simmer for at least 1 hour, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface.
4. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken and vegetables and discard.
5. Pass the stock through a sieve to remove any remaining solids.
6. Allow the stock to cool for at least 30 minutes before storing. I like to pour the stock into Glad Ice Cube Bags for easier storage.
Homemade chicken stock will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days or 2-3 months in the freezer.