Happy Ramadan everybody!
Ramadan food preparation is one of the closest tasks to my heart! Although I am almost preparing food all your round but there is something so special about preparing food for Ramadan; it has a totally different feel!
The past few days I have been doing nothing but stuffing sambousak/katayef, cutting konafa, cooking tons of homemade stock, roasting nuts, making juices; basically having my fridge & freezer ready for this holy month!
I will be sharing with you as many recipes as possible, hopefully! I thought to start with my favorite recipe for homemade chicken stock because basically that’s the base for most of our food & it doesn’t make sense to be making stock daily in Ramadan!
I believe we all know how to make stock; it is basically boiling chicken with some spices in water until the chicken is cooked through, right? But lately, I have been reading a lot about making stock the professional way to have the maximum nutrients & flavor. I researched & tested so many times until I finally found the perfect recipe.
Below are some tips “that actually go against everything I knew about making stock” but they turned out to be the perfect base for a delicious recipe:
- Sear the chicken in ghee/butter/oil before adding water to give the stock a richer taste; don’t worry about the fats, we will remove them at the end.
- Start the stock with tap water & not hot water.
- Use whole spices & not powdered spices.
- Use vegetables & greens to flavor the stock; not only spices.
- Stock has to be simmered uncovered on low heat. Simmer (don’t boil) because otherwise all the liquid will evaporate. A simmer is when you see a couple of small bubbles (in different spots) on the surface of the water every second or two.
- Stock has to be cooked on low heat for a long period of time to extract all the nutrients & have a deliciously flavored liquid.
- SALT OR NO SALT? There is a big argument about whether to add salt or not while making the stock but I went with the “NO SALT” opinion to reduce the sodium level. You will use stock in making other recipes so season the final recipe with salt & pepper & not the stock. If you decide to add salt to your stock, then add it at the end & not the beginning.
- When you taste the stock, it has to taste clean, not bitter, not greasy & without any overpowering taste. Because the stock has no salt, it will be tasteless – DON’T WORRY – it is supposed to be like that! If you want to make a test, heat one cup of stock & season it with salt & pepper, you won’t believe the difference; it will be the normal stock taste you are used to.
- To have a healthy nutritious stock without any fats, let the stock cool completely then remove the fat layer that will form on the surface.
Please stop using store bought stock cubes; they are just full of crap! Prepare a big batch of homemade stock & freeze in portions … it can stay in your freezer for up to 3 months!
Let’s get ready for Ramadan or actually for the whole year :)
HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK
- 2 whole chickens about 2 kg each
- 2 tbsp butter or ghee or oil (for optional step)
- 3 onions cut into quarters
- 3 carrots cut into chunks
- 3 French celery stalks with leaves كرفس (see notes for substitution)
- 1/4 bunch parsley بقدونس
- 1/2 garlic head, peeled whole cloves
- 5 cardamom whole حبهان
- 2 large mastic pieces or 4 small مستكا
- 3 bay leaves لورا
- 1 cinnamon stick عود قرفة (optional)
- 1 dried lemon لومى (optional)
- 1/2 tbsp whole black peppercorn فلفل حب
- water at room temperature
- Optional Step: Dry the chicken well with tissue paper. Heat a large pot on high heat, add the butter/oil/ghee, the mastic, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, cardamon & black peppercorn then sear the chicken on all sides until it takes a light golden color. Add the rest of the ingredients & cover with water. All the ingredients should be covered with water.
- In case you are going to skip the above step, put all the ingredients in a large pot & cover with water. All the ingredients should be covered with water.
Cook on high heat until the water boils. Reduce heat to low to maintain a simmer. A simmer is when you see a couple of small bubbles (in different spots) on the surface of the water every second or two (see above photo for reference).
- Simmer UNCOVERED for about 3 hours; skimming off the foam & fats that floats to the top of the stock with a metal spoon. You can skim the foam & fat every 45 minutes. This isn’t necessary but it will make your stock clearer & cleaner.
After 3 hours, the stock should be reduced by about 1/3. Strain the stock through a sieve; disregard all the veggies & spices.
Let the stock cool completely then remove the fat layer (if there is any) that is formed on the surface.
Divide the stock into portions & freeze for up to 3 months.
- Use the stock as a base in cooking sauces, soups & vegetables ..etc.
- In case you can’t find french celery (the one with long stalks), substitute with 1/2 a bunch of local celery.
- You can use the cooked chicken in salads, wraps & sandwiches.
- You can use chicken wings & carcass instead of whole chicken.
- You can find dried lemon (loumy) at any spice store.
- Don’t add salt to the stock in order not to increase its sodium level. Stocks are used in preparing other recipes so season the final recipe with salt/pepper. In case you want to add salt while preparing the stock, add it at the end & not the beginning.
- When you taste the stock, it has to taste clean, not bitter, not greasy & without any overpowering taste. Because the stock has no salt, it will be tasteless. – DON’T WORRY it is supposed to be like that. If you want to make a test, heat one cup of stock & season it with salt & pepper, you won’t believe the difference :)