The glory of this dish is the wonderful stock you end up with. The aroma of the simmering stock alone will make you want to eat this every week. If you have any shiitake mushroom stalks, ends of leeks, or onion skins (they add a rich colour), throw them in.
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1 kg (2 lbs) chicken back and necks
1.5kg (3 lb) chicken
1 large onion, unpeeled, quartered
2 large carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 small whole head of garlic, cut in half
Place backs and necks in a soup pot. Top with chicken. Cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to boil, skim any white froth on top. Add vegetables. Reduce heat, simmer and cook chicken for 30 minutes or until juices are clear. Remove chicken and immediately plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.
Drain well and let sit for 10 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Remove backbone, pull off legs and thighs. Ease off breast bone. Take skin off chicken and reserve chicken and skin.*
Place backbone back in pot along with all other bones and wings. Continue to simmer for three or more hours or until soup tastes rich. Strain and discard bones and vegetables. Cool stock, then refrigerate overnight. Remove fat.
*Place chicken skin in non-stick skillet over medium heat and let fry until crisp, turning occasionally. Use to sprinkle on top of soups and salads.