When I think of all the marvelous dishes that have brought culinary magic to my childhood, they all have one thing in common: a rich chicken and pork stock base.
I can’t begin to describe how fundamental this No-Fail Chicken and Pork Stock is to the success of so many dishes for our family. That’s why I’ve made it my duty to ensure that you leave this post with all the tips and tricks you’ll need for perfecting your very own chicken and pork broth. What this recipe will yield is an innately sweet and delicately savoury stock that’s brewed with finesse.
To start, there are a few chicken and pork options to prepare your stock. You can use any variation, ratio and quantity of these, but remember that the higher the meat to water ratio, the more concentrated your broth will be. Here are some of the meats we buy when we plan to make a stock (normally we just choose one or two of these options):
Free range old hens
Free range ‘old hens’ is pronounced ‘lo gei’ in Cantonese. These are older chickens that produce an incredible depth of flavour when simmered for hours. Typically, we only use one in each pot because they take up so much space.
I still remember seeing Grandma requesting for these from the butcher for the first time. I asked her why she chose to use chicken backs instead and her response was, “Because they fit in the pot better than a whole chicken.” Fair enough. Chicken backs are the parts remaining after the wings, legs and breast have been removed. There isn’t too much meat on them, but they do provide lots of chicken flavour to a broth.
If you go and ask your butcher for raw chicken bones, there’s an unspoken understanding that you’re making a broth (unless, of course, you’re planning to feed them to your pet). After the meat is cut away, a chicken carcass doesn’t have much else except for flavour that can be extracted from within the bone. It’s a cheap and surefire way to enrich your stock.
Lean pork meat
Grandma usually goes for the cheaper cuts since it’s just to flavour the stock, but we use the leaner variety for a purer soup taste. That being said, if we need to cook any other pork as a topping, we simply cook it in the broth to give it extra flavour and take it out before the meat falls too much off the bone.
When our family makes noodle soup dishes, which is generally saved for weekends or special occasions, we make sure to include pork bones. Yes, they’re thicker and much chunkier but if you have a large enough pot, you won’t miss out on the balanced sweetness pork bones adds to the standard chicken flavour.
Is pork and chicken broth good for you?
Absolutely! As Mum always says, all the rich collegen in a chicken and pork broth will do wonders to beautifying your skin!
Really, any two of those ingredients and simmered for a few hours will guarantee you’ll have a fragrant and wholesome pot of concentrated stock. Sounds easy, right? It definitely is, but here are a few techniques to ensure your stock is pure, clean and undeniably sweet from the simmering:
(1) Double boil it
This is a must for a purer stock. To do this, set a pot of water to boil and wash the chicken and/or pork. Throw it in when you’re done (the water doesn’t have to be boiling) and bring it to almost a boil. You’ll notice a lot of scum floating. Don’t worry about skimming it just yet. This pot of water will be discarded.
Pour the contents of the pot into the sink then thoroughly wash the all the meat and bones. If you have pork bones, Grandma uses the flat parts to rub them together under running water. What an efficient way to clean two in one go! The more thoroughly you clean, the clearer your chicken and pork stock will be.
In the meantime, fill a clean pot with water and bring it to a boil. Make sure there is enough to cover the chicken and pork once it’s put inside. At this point, we season it with a tablespoon of salt to incorporate the first layer of flavour.
After the wash, the bones should have less scum. This is the secret to a cleaner broth. Put all the chicken and pork into the boiling water a second time. It will stop bubbling (depending on the heat of your stove), but make sure to bring it back to a boil. Once it reaches that point, lower the heat to a gentle simmer and keep the pot lid partially on.
The stock that’s produced will be much clearer. You’ll also have this going for a minimum of 3 hours.
Some people like to add whole spring onions and/or slices of ginger to it for added flavour during the cooking process, but we generally leave the seasoning closer to the end. Plus, spring onions and ginger may not suit the dish we’re making so we tend to leave those out.
(2) Skim the scum
As the water comes to a simmer, impurities will rise to the surface. Make sure to use a ladle to scoop just the bubbles, floating oil and scum to keep the stock pure. Double boiling it will help with reducing the amount of scum in the pot, but it’s one of those things that are unavoidable.
Just remember that skimming does take some practise and it’s well worth it. We repeat this step roughly every 30 minutes.
(3) Cook the broth over two days
I suppose this actually makes it a triple-boil, but if you want that concentration and intensity of flavour, it’s a step you cannot miss. I’ll admit that our family doesn’t normally use this technique unless we’re hosting a party.
All it involves is double boiling the stock as per technique (1), then leaving the pot in the fridge (or on the stove if it’s cold enough) overnight. It’s no secret that anything left overnight will develop much deeper flavours. The next day, bring the pot back out and reheat it again on a low simmer for a few more hours. A general rule for stocks is the longer you cook it for, the more intense the essence.
There you have it! Our No-Fail Chicken and Pork Stock is done!
You can season it with salt, sugar and/or our beloved Squid brand fish sauce or freeze it in containers for future use. It will last in the freezer for up to 3 months! Sometimes when Dad has company over, we save the bones and meat from the stock for them to eat with light soy sauce.
No-Fail Chicken and Pork Stock
Any variation of these ingredients
- 1 free range old hen
- 1/2 kg lean pork meat
- 1/2 kg chicken backs
- 1 kg chicken bones/carcass
- 1 kg pork bones
- Set a pot of water to boil and wash the chicken and/or pork.
- Throw the meat and bones in when you’re done (the water doesn’t have to be boiling) and bring it to almost a boil.
- Pour the contents of the pot into the sink then thoroughly wash the all the meat and bones.
- In the meantime, fill a clean pot with water and bring it to a boil. Make sure there is enough to cover the chicken and pork once it’s put inside.
- Put all the chicken and pork into the boiling water for a second boil. It will stop boiling for some time (depending on the heat of your stove), but bring it back to a boil.
- Once the water boils again, lower the heat to a gentle simmer and keep the pot lid partially on.
- Simmer for a minimum of 3 hours, skimming the scum every half an hour.
- Optional: leave the pot in the fridge overnight. The next day, bring the pot back out and reheat it again on a low simmer for a few more hours.
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