Monday, 23 December 2013

Simple salt free poultry stock and how to make gravy

It's Christmas Eve Eve (i.e. the 23rd) and I picked up our goose yesterday from Seldom Seen farm.  Yes, goose is an extravagance but even at the pampered free range prices you're looking at less than £3 per portion for each meal we will eat it for.  You can't even get a meal in a Toby carvery for that!

So we're having goose but even if we have turkey I always make stock a day or two in advance.  I've been warned though that although you get masses of fat (great for roast potatoes) juices can be a bit thin on the ground with a goose so I'm making some stock.

Chicken stock

Stock is stupidly easy to make.  Think about it as bones and water and you get the idea.  At other times of year I make stock from left over roast bones (especially chicken) but for Christmas it gets a bit special, albeit not expensive.

So why chicken wings?  It's all the skin, bones and stringy bits which make stock taste great and wings are not only cheap, they're full of that stuff.

Scared of giblets?  Get over it.  They are basically a free bit of the bird and full of flavour.  Use them!

Simple Poultry Stock - mine made approx 1 pint, just over half a litre of stock


Up to 1kg (approx 2lbs) of chicken wings - if you don't have any, it's still worth making but might not be as strongly flavoured
Turkey, chicken, duck or goose giblets (but not the liver; heart, and neck are great and any other bits and bobs they throw in)
2 Bay leaves
Water to cover


You can just cook this from raw but to add extra flavour, I roast the wings first.  (It's all about the Maillard reaction if you want to know!)  Roast them for 40 mins approx at 200oC / 400F or until lovely and brown.  I do this on baking paper so I can get as much of the sticky brown bits off as possible.

Making stock from chicken wings

A slow cooker is ideal for making the stock.  If you have one, put everything in, the giblets, roasted wings and bay leaves then boiling water to cover.  If you only have a sauce pan, do the same and put on the heat.

Making stock in a slow cooker

Bring to a boil on high on the slow cooker or on the hob then turn down and simmer with the lid on (or put on low) for approx 2 hours for the hob or 3-4 hours for a slow cooker.  Keep an eye on it if it's on the hob and add more water if needed.

Strain, remove any fat (see below), and taste.  If it tastes a bit weak, put into a saucepan and reduce (boil off some of the water) until it's flavourful (or you can do that later when you're making the gravy.)

Because this is totally salt free, it's great for gravy for babies or if you have too much, make some risotto.  Otherwise if you want to, mix with any juices from your roast bird on the big day (removing any fatty layer first) then heat to a boil.  Mix with cornflour / cornstarch paste (made by mixing cornflour with cold water in a cup then pouring in, whisking constantly) to thicken bringing back to the boil stirring constantly.  Start with 1 tbsp of cornflour mixed with about 1-2 tbsp water.  You might need more but you can't take it out once you put it in so add it slowly until it's at the consistency you like.  Add seasoning if you think it needs it.

I hope you have a very merry and very tasty Christmas!

Fat; goose fat is a marvellous thing and a tasty thing.  If you get a fatty lump in with your goose giblets, don't throw it away.  Put it in with your stock then, when it's cooling, scoop off the layer (the rendered fat) and save it for either putting on the goose thighs to help them not burn during cooking or for roasting your spuds!

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