If you haven’t acquainted yourself with the joy of making your own stock then there is no time like the present to grab a big pot and get simmering. There is a particular joy that comes from the thriftiness of making your own stock – the long, slow simmering process extracts the maximum flavour and nutrients from scraps and bones. A small bank of chicken and beef stock in the freezer is essential for adding extra flavour and body to soup, gravy and risotto. For clear, clean-tasting stocks, be sure to simmer very gently and skim regularly. This recipe makes about 2 litres and is by Paul West from River Cottage Australia appearing on Foxtel’s LifeStyle FOOD.

1 chicken frame (neck and feet as well if you have them!)
Water, as needed
1 brown onion, peeled and roughly diced
1 carrot, roughly diced
1 stick celery, roughly diced
1 head of garlic, cut in half horizontally
1 bay leaf
A few sprigs of thyme
½ teaspoon black peppercorns.

Place the chicken frame in a stockpot and pour over about 2 litres of cold water, just enough to cover. Gently bring the water to a simmer, skimming away any impurities as they rise to the surface – use a ladle and a circular swirling motion to push them to the edge of the pot for convenient scooping.
Add the veggies, bay leaf, thyme and peppercorns and continue to gently simmer for 1½ hours. By this stage the stock should have a rich chicken flavour.
Ladle the stock through a fine strainer, allow it to come down to room temperature and then place it in the fridge, uncovered, to cool completely. Use within a couple of days or freeze it in convenient portion sizes for longer life.