Making chicken stock in my pressure cooker isn’t some sort of revelation, but it is a process I recently started using to reduce food waste.
I had experimented with the idea back in the beginning, 2008, when I first bought the PC, or perhaps I should say when I bought my first PC. Back then I thought I would be using my pressure cooker everyday, and in hopes of learning to master it I cooked just about everything we ate with it. For a week that is. Then I tired of the one pots meals that a pressure cooker inevitably produces. However, using the pressure cooker to make chicken stock was definitely a quicker method to make delicious broth.
So, a few months ago, thanks to Steve’s insistence and as part of our Less is More mantra for 2018, I started digging out my pressure cooker on a weekly basis to make a pot of chicken stock.
Most weeks while we’ve been in the Philippines we buy a whole roasted chicken (about a size 11/12 or 1.1/1.2kgs) and a small piece of roasted pork (250grms). Over the years we’ve gone to a more veggie focused diet, so these two pieces of meat are enough meat for the two of us for the whole week, lunches and dinners.
The reason we buy pre-cooked meat is threefold.
The meat is roasted over natural charcoal, often turned by hand, and that tastes amazing; a roasted chook is only marginally more than buying one uncooked, and means we don’t have to heat up the boat to cook and we don’t use LPG, because; we can’t get our 9 kgs LPG tanks filled in the Philippines, we have to buy/exchange pre-filled local tanks, none of which are 9 kgs which means the tanks are either too big to fit in our fuel locker, or too small to keep us cooking for more than a few weeks at a time, and both scenarios are a pain in the arse.
All of which means that even though buying a precooked chicken is a bit more expensive it is actually more economic in the long run.
This also means that almost every week this year there has been a chicken carcass, full of charcoal roasted flavour and potential, in the fridge. Keen to cut down on food waste it made sense to start upcycling those bones into chicken stock.
It takes only 30 minutes to make a rich, delicious pot of stock.
Pure liquid gold.
That is, after I got over the idea that making stock meant making soup. I rarely crave a bowl of soup in the tropics, who would when the temperature seldom dips below 28°C? While not exactly a blank slate, chicken stock is versatile and having a 1.5L of it in our fridge each week has forced us out of regular food rut as we try to use it up before the next carcass is ready for the pot.
(Just a note I use a small 2.5L pressure cooker, you could certainly use a larger pot, adding more bones, veg and water and yielding more stock.)
The method is simple.
Stripped of most of the meat the carcass goes into the pot along with an onion- keep the skins on if they are clean and mold free -and a carrot- usually peeled and cut into thirds. If I ever had celery on board a stalk of that would go in too.
Then I like to build on the generic chicken stock flavour by adding a few galley staples: a couple cloves of garlic, some chunks of ginger, a few peppercorns and a split birds eye chili. If I happen to have cilantro around I toss in the stems. If I am feeling a little exotic, then I might throw in a half a lemon or a small piece of star anise.
Next, I add water up to the 2/3 mark, which is about 1.5L and the maximum amount you should fill a pressure cooker. Then on goes the lid and up goes the flame.
I bring the pressure cooker up to 15 PSI and maintain the pressure for 30 minutes or so, then let it naturally release. Sometimes, if is a busy morning, I bring it up to pressure for 15-20 minutes then turn off the heat and leave it until I have time to pay attention to the stove later in the day. I that time I bring it back up to 15 PSI for another 15-20 minutes and let it naturally release. You can also use this twice cooking method to make a darker, richer stock, with more of the gelatin extracted from the bones. If that’s your goal, cook for 30 minutes each time you bring it up to pressure.
I let the stock cool in the pot until it is safe to handle, those chunks can cause a lot of painful splashes if you’re not careful and a chicken steam facial is no trip to the spa, believe me. Then I strain it through a sieve and pour it into glass bottle. I like to reserve the carrots, and sometimes the onions, to eat for snacks. Waste not want not.
We rarely use the stock the same day it is made, so de-fatting it is rather easy. When cooled in the fridge the fat will float to the top and congeal into a solid disc, which can be lifted off before use.
And what do we use it for?
Most often we use it in lieu of water to cook rice or a 2/3:1/3 mix of rice and quinoa. We use it to poach egg noodles that are a base of a noodle bowl. I also use it to thin a simple tomato sauce for pasta, giving the sauce a little extra richness. And, if there are a bunch of weird leftover bits in the fridge and I have no desire to cook a meal from scratch, I have even been known to throw them all in a pot, add some stock, call it a stew and serve it for dinner. For Christmas I will make sure to have some stock on hand so that I can make some extra delish gravy.
Making chicken stock in the pressure cooker is quick and easy and it means that we always have the basis of a meal in the fridge for those busy days. Or those lazy days. Better yet it means that we got the very most possible out of our weekly roast chicken. So in this case, less (food waste) is definitely more (flavour).