Tagged: Chicken Stock

Bay Leaf in my Cooking

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I love using bay in my cooking. Given the Southern Italian (Sicilian) influence that is expressed in my cooking style the

Bay Leaves

Bay Leaves

use of bay in my stocks, soups and tomato sauces is a traditional herb for me to use. Bay leaf is also called bay laurel, sweet bay, sweet laurel and laurel leaf. Bay is probably the one herb that most cooks prefer using dried than fresh, which is that I do.

The bay laurel tree is native to Asia Minor but is now grown all over the Mediterraneanas it is well suited to warm climates of the region. There are two main types of bay leaf, Mediterranean bay leaf and the Californian bay leaf. The Californian bay leaf is much stronger in flavour and the Mediterranean bay.

The best place to store your Bay leaves is in a cool, dry place, away from bright light, heat and moisture. Bay is available fresh, dried whole leaves or ground dried leaves.

Add a bay leaf or two to marinades, stock, pâtés, stews, stuffing’s and curries. When poaching fish, add a bay leaf to the water.

Store and leaf or two with rice in a tight fitting jar and the leaf will impart its flavor to the rice when cooked. Don’t over use bay in dishes as it can make whatever you are cooking bitter if too much is used. In general, 1-2 good sized leaves will suffice. If they are medium to small I would use 4 in a stock due to the volume of water they are in.

Bay leaves greatly improve flavour if you are cutting down on salt. Try adding a bay leaf or two when you boil potatoes to replace salt. Always remember to remove the whole bay leaf after cooking in any dish.

Home-made chicken stock or soup in my view would not be homemade without a bay leaf or two. Don’t worry about using the fresh herb, the dried version is usually all that is needed.

Chicken Stock

You will often find chicken carcasses in the meat section at your supermarket. I usually purchase 3-4 at a time and if I am not going to make stock that day I will freeze them so I have them at hand for when I do need to make it. You can take the carcasses straight from the freezer and place in simmering water.

I quite often make chicken stock after roasting a chicken. I will use the carcasses that I have roasted and add 1 kg of fresh chicken wings which I usually purchase when on special and freeze them for this occasion. On special you can usually pick-op the chicken wings for about $4.00 per/kg.

Ingredients

2-3     chicken carcasses
6        garlic cloves cut in half
1        teaspoon whole pepper corns (about 6-8)
1        large onion cut in half
4        celery sticks cut into chunky pieces
2        large carrots chopped into chunky pieces
2        large or 4 medium to small dried bay leaves (you can use fresh if you have them
3        sprigs of fresh rosemary
4        sprigs of fresh parsley
3        sprigs of fresh thyme
3-6lts  cold water
salt to taste
Directions

Place the chicken carcasses, garlic, vegetables, herbs and peppercorns in a large soup or stock saucepan. Add the cold water and bring to the boil. Once it is boiling turn down to a simmer and skim any oil that have risen to the top.

Continue to simmer gentle heat for 3-4 hours, skimming the oils off the top as necessary. When the stock has been simmering for 3-4 hours turn off the heat then pass the stock through a fine sieve or several layers of mutton cloth to remove the ingredients.

Allow to cool for about an hour, then refrigerate. Once the stock is cold it should look clear with a slightly amber in colour. I usually divide it into small plastic containers at this point and freeze it, 500mlfits well in a sandwich zip-lock bag . It will keep in the fridge for about 3 to 4 days and in the freezer for 2-3 months.

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