My beau has suggested that it would be a good idea to list recipes for some of the basic things that will be mentioned repeatedly on this blog, as ingredients in other dishes.
First on the list is stock. This is basically essence of meat (or fish or vegetables) that makes dishes such as soups and stews and so on taste really good.
I am going to list my method for making chicken stock, but you can substitute in bones from any animal. Fish stock is more difficult and I will admit that I have never made it myself as I do not have a good fishmonger near by for getting fish heads and so on, from.
First break up the chicken carcarss into about 3 pieces. If you are using a raw carcass (which are available from most butchers if you just ask), it is earier to break it up by using a pair of kitchen scissors, but if the carcass is from a cooked chicken it should break up easily enough just using your hands. Once broken into pieces add to the pot.
Next peel the onion and chop into quarters and put into a deep pot then peel, top and tail your carrot and roughly chop into large chunks and add to the pot.
Just a note that if you are using the carcass from a roast chicken, if you have any remaining gravy or juice in the pan, these can also go into the stock pot.
Finally, throw in the whole black pepper corns, bay leaves and salt.
Now add enough cold water to cover the carcass, this will probably be about 2 pints, depending on the depth of your pot. I have an inherited Le Creuset pot that I use especially for making stock in as it has a nice heavy bottom which heats evenly on my electric hob. Though as you may have noticed I am using my parents' gas cooker, this is because their kitchen is nicer to photograph than mine.
Bring the water to the boil. If you want the stock in a hurry, leave it at a high heat and let it boil for at least 45 mins. If you have more time, reduce the heat so that the water is simmering and leave for 2 hours. You can leave it for longer, the less liquid there is in the pot the more concentrated the flavour. When I am using it straight away for a soup, I will only roughly strain it through a colander or sieve. However, if I want for sauces, I will strain it through muslim so that there are no impurities.
You now have the basis for delicious chicken soups, chicken pies and chicken casseroles. You can of course using stock cubes and so on when making all of these things, but I find that homemade stock has a better flavour, plus you are getting another use out of the chicken and getting more for your money.
If you find that your stock is too fatty, you can leave it till it cools and then remove the fat layer from the top. When the stock cools it will have a consistency that varies from liquid to jelly depending on how far you have reduced it during cooking. The stock can be used immediately, or kept in the fridge for about a week or frozen indefinitely.