Chicken is the most popular form of meat in the world, and with good reason. It tastes amazing, it is (somewhat) easy to cook, plus it has multiple purposes, including forming the base of many stocks worldwide.
In contemporary times, we are rightfully challenged by our consumption habits. Whether this scrutiny comes from athletic nutrition freaks or by disciplined vegans, we can no longer deny that our choices in consumption have a profound effect in the public sphere of discussion. In my opinion, we cannot harvest any further doubt that livestock commodity production is a severe strain on our fragile environment. The detrimental nature of mass-produced meats (especially beef) needs no further incremental evidence to dictate a change in behaviour. The question remains, how do we as free-thinking humans make our own conscious choices?
Some choose to lead a vegan lifestyles, which is becoming increasingly more attractive considering the movement has inspired a whole generation of new foodies that opt for alternatives to meat. I need not point further than the launching of a recent “Chefs Table” season debuting Seong Kwan, a lady who is a devout buddhist monk, but also a creative and mindful vegan chef. Vegan lifestyle used to be ridiculed by many, but is now proven to be a force and inspiration to take seriously.
Others opt to go vegetarian, even some allow for the consumption of fish, ie. pescetarian. Wherever you stand on the spectrum, I think it is important to inform yourself of everything regarding the food consumption industry. I personally believe in a “Nose to Tail” philosophy that inspires a frugality with regards to the ingredients. To put things in perspective, Shark Fin Soup has the worst rep of any meat-based dishes in the world. Why? This is because the fisherman who source these shark fins, choose to angle up the sharks on the side of the boat, sever the fins off the shark, only to throw the slowly-dying shark back into the ocean. Literally stripping it off everything that makes a shark a fish. This sort of behaviour marks the antithesis of a “nose to tail” philosophy. The amount of meat wasted is astronomical, and the animal cruelty involved sends shivers down my spine. On the other end of the spectrum, we find today’s recipe. This weekend, we held an event in which curious individuals came in to our shop and was taught how to debone and divide an entire chicken.
The chicken itself is a free-raning french breed “label rouge” that forages for insects and is allowed ample space to develop more muscle fibres. The meat itself is a far cry from the commodity chicken you find in the counter. Once the workshop was finished, I jumped at the opportunity to use the scrappings to create a hearty broth, which can be used for sauces, soups or glazes. When I said I want to use everything, I meant it. Which is why this stock is based on all scraps including the chicken heads and feet. Some may find these images a bit macabre, but this is indeed an animal that was killed for consumption, and I will not try and hide anything. Below will feature a recipe to make the stock.
- Two chicken carcasses (heads and feet if available
- 2 sticks of cellery (diced)
- 4 small onions (roughly chopped)
- 4 medium sized carrots (roughly chopped)
- Half a leek (roughly chopped)
- 6-8 sprigs of Thyme
- 4 garlic cloves (peeled whole)
- 3 litres of water
- 6-8 peppercorns (whole)
- Add the Mirepoix (Onions, Cellery, Carrots, Leeks) and the chicken to a large saucepan
- Cover it with the water till everything is submerged
- Lightly crush the peppercorns and add to the mix
- Twist the thyme sprigs and add to the mix
- Turn on full heat and watch carefully as small bubbles start to form a foam at the top of the broth.
- Once it has formed considerable patches, lower the heat to low and use a ladle to remove the chicken “scum” from the upper surface. These contain impurities and should not be allowed to emulsify in the mixture.
- Keep the broth at a simmer and not a rolling boil
- Allow to cook for up to 12 hours (Add a little water every 1.5 hours to keep the broth from becoming concentrated.
- Do not season the stock
- Run the stock through a sieve and place in mason jars for use within a couple of days, or in ice cube bags for subsequental use from the freezer
So there you have it. An easy way of reducing your intake of sodium as shelf stocks have a lot more salt added. All in all, a more conscious choice when buying an entire chicken.