January is an odd month. Steel grey days that never really seem to get light, damp cold that sits in your bones and the inevitable colds and coughs. It can feel like there isn’t a great deal of cheer to be had, especially after the jolly joy of Christmas.
I find it’s a case of finding comfort in every corner of I can and one of my favourite places to find it is food. Not in the heavy, calorie rich excess of Christmas, but food that I know is doing me good. Nothing faddy; I prefer the honesty of a good homemade soup, packed with vitamins and minerals from a home made chicken stock or broth. Chicken broth has been medicine for centuries and the health benefits are outstanding.
- Fat from the chicken promotes a healthy immune system. Perfect for warding away colds and other winter nasties.
- Minerals such as Magnesium (increases energy, helps digestion), Calcium (essential for building strong bones) and phosphorus (helps detoxify the body, and maintain cognitive function)
- Collagen and Glycerine work alongside the mineral traces to build strong bones, healthy hair and skin that glows.
Add to this the innate comfort of a warming bowl of soup and it’s clear why this is such a winter food hero.
Stock is easy to make, you just need a little time. It’s perfect for if you have a day of doing jobs around the house. Put it on in the morning, and just let it simmer, oh so gently, for as many hours as you can. It brings the added bonus of making the house smell delicious.
This is my favourite recipe, which I make using the bones from a roast chicken. It’s not a recipe so much as a collection of simple simmered goodness.
One chicken carcass.
One stick of celery
Handful of peppercorns
Two Bay leaves
A sprig of thyme
What to do.
Take all the meat from the chicken, (set it aside to use on curries, risotto or just in a fabulous sandwich)
Pack the bones into a stockpot or medium saucepan.
Pour over enough cold water to just cover
Bring to a gentle simmer, and allow to bubble for a minimum of three hours. The longer you can let it simmer the better.
Strain the stock through a colander then a muslin sleeve. If you haven’t got a muslin sleeve then a sieve works fine.
That’s it. The stock can be frozen or used within three days.
How do I use it ?
Let me count the ways…….
Casseroles and Stews
It gives a depth of flavour and an immense feeling of satisfaction from creating something from what would normally be wasted.
- The chicken bones can be frozen for up to three months, so don’t panic if you haven’t got time to make the stock straight away.
- Don’t feel you have to use a whole carcass. Leg, thigh, wings all make a great stock.
- The veggies don’t have to be peeled, just rinse away any dirt before popping them in the pot.
Of course, if all that seems like just too much effort, we are open as usual for you to enjoy lunch,dinner or drinks after a crisp walk taking in the ethereal magic of our winter gardens.