Off-the-shelf stocks can be expensive and tasteless but it’s so easy to make and store your own halal stock. That said, these days time constraints often mean instant stock is a more popular option for adding flavour to many of our homemade foods. Stocks are a great move towards zero waste, as well as making your home-cooking more delicious and authentic — and of course this way, you know exactly what is going into your food.
If you’ve roasted a whole halal chicken, keep the carcass. Vegetable peels, herb stalks and bones are the bases of a good stock. If you need to make a fish stock, you’ll often have to call a fishmonger ahead, and in most cases you’ll pay very little for a bag of whole fish bones. You can also buy halal lamb and halal cow bones relatively cheaply from halal butchers.
Wrap up any bones (poultry, beef, lamb or fish) you have and freeze until you have enough. It goes without saying that big batches are the most economical but 1.5kg of bones will make roughly 1 litre of unreduced stock.
You don’t need a recipe for stock as much as you need a good idea of the basic steps and ingredients: water (we use bottled water for greater purity and a less chlorinated flavour), bones, trimmings (for meat and fish stocks), celery, onion, carrot and herbs like herb stalks, a bay leaf or thyme sprigs, and some peppercorns, as well as turmeric powder and cumin seeds. You needn’t salt the stock, as it could be too salty once it's finished. Here are some tips to get you going.
All stocks are boiled first. This brings a froth of impurities to the surface, which needs removing with the sweep of a large spoon across the pan to take away as much as possible. Do this as often as you feel you need to.
2. Extract Flavour
A good, clear stock is simmered slowly and gently. Once it boils, reduce the heat and then cover. You will be largely free to get on with your day at this point, as the stock is not demanding at all at this stage. Just check it isn’t losing liquid, adding more boiling water if necessary. Putting a stock in a slow-cooker is ideal.
Remove the vegetables and bones from the stock, sieve the liquid and cool completely. Remove the remaining fat.
4. Reduce and store
To enhance the flavour of the stock, reduce it down by half. You can add water to the stock to make more but a more concentrated base is tastier, richer and easier to store. Chill the finished stock and use it within 3 days or, alternatively, freeze it.
Before storing it, cool the stock quickly to avoid the development of bacteria. Plunge the stock pot into a large sink or bucket filled with cold or iced water. For storage, use air-sealed jars like mason jars or freeze the liquid in freezer bags. And perhaps reserve smaller quantities for gravies or sauces in ice cube trays.
To vacuum seal jars, use the following method: place lids on mason jars, screw on the rings and lower jars back into the pot of boiling water. The water should almost cover the jars, but not the lids. Boil jars for 10 minutes. Transfer the jars to a folded towel and allow to cool for 12 hours and you should hear them making a pinging sound as they seal.
We promise that making your own homemade stocks will make for tastier dinners!
Let us know if you have any tips for making delicious homemade halal stocks of your own.