The Cottage Smallholder

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Chicken wings can provide both meat and amazing stock

Chicken stock chilled in the icy kitchen overnight

Chicken stock chilled in the icy kitchen overnight

We can’t buy chicken wings in the Newmarket Waitrose. Some people think that wings are a waste of time.

Even my mum says “They have so little meat on them. The other day I was given two at a lunch party. We were all scraping about politely for the meat.”

I agree with the Min Pins – I like chicken wings. Danny does great wings on the Kettle barbecue with hickory chips (lid on). Crisp and smokey tasty. Unbelievably good.

A few weeks ago I wondered why Waitrose didn’t sell chicken wings and came up with a possible answer. They must use the wings to make stock and soup. The best chicken stock is made from wings, in my opinion. Just the right ratio of meat, bone and minimal fat.

So I jumped into The Duchess and purred towards Tesco. Chicken wings were top of our shopping list. When I returned home I covered twice their height in the saucepan with cold water. Added chicken stock cubes (one for every 500 ml) and a handful of finely chopped fresh herbs. I also threw in a finely sliced carrot, stick of celery and a few shallots – the latter were cut in half, leaving the skins on. In the winter a heaped teaspoon of dried herbs would have the same effect as the fresh herbs.

I can almost hear the surprised roar of “Chicken stock cubes – WHY?”

If you have time to study the recipes, most top chefs add chicken stock cubes to their stock and casseroles. The best ones are the organic ones of course. Gallo Organic cubes seem to be a favourite brand with UK chefs. I buy whatever is on offer.

I simmered the wings very, very slowly for an hour. Then removed the meat from the bones – two forks are good for this. The bones were returned to the stock pot for another couple of hours or so.

Using a slotted spoon (I suddenly sound like Delia here!) I removed the bones from the stock and put the saucepan in the extra cold area in the kitchen. The next morning the stock was firm. Put in the fridge for a day it was sliceable!

Sliceable stock is what you need for really good and wholesome soup, sauces and casseroles.
I’m a jelly freak. Happily will eat this sort of meat stock straight from the fridge. We freeze a lot of this type of stock to use later.

But until now we haven’t fished out the wings one hour into the cooking. There was a surprising amount of chicken and quite big chunks too – I’m sorry but I forgot to weigh these but they filled half a pie dish for four. These chicken morsels could be used for a risotto (added right at the end), sandwiches or tossed into the stock right at the end for a healing chicken soup. These would also be great mixed with ham and served with a white sauce. The options are endless.

I rang my mum with my results.“Of course you can’t get chicken wings at Waitrose. Here’s my theory…”

Yesterday we stepped into Waitrose in Cambridge. I cast a cursory glance over the chicken section. I was amazed to see that they had chicken wings!?! So although my theory has been blown out of the water, my mum tucked a pack into her basket and can now test out how much meat and tasty stock that she can make from a pack of wings.

Try this – I can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed. Great stock and chicken that can be frozen in handfuls and added to numerous dishes


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  1. louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife

    When we get our big chickens (2.5kg ish) from our local organic farm, the wings on those are worth eating but I agree the rest of the time – not worth the faff. The wings from the organic birds are twice as long as the ones I’ve had from other places. I save them up from a few birds to make them into a decent meal, then make stock from the bones like you.

    I agree with Tanya too – they’re probably just being sold to a different market, although not necessarily even as far flung as Russia — wings are very cheap bulk buy in our local Asian supermarkets.

    Stock flavouring: if I know I’m going to use the stock for a spicy/flavourful soup or stew, I add plenty of peppercorns, coriander seeds and sometimes galangal as well as bits of veg & bay leaves. I always roast the carcass first too (if it’s not already been roasted) as I’ve heard it gives the resulting stock a better colour/flavour too – but like bobquail, I’ve not done a side by side taste test 🙂

  2. janerowena

    I used chicken wings last night, with some cheap frozen mussels, to make a sort of poor man’s paella. Delicious. And once they were cooked I cut them up into three portions each and threw the wing tips out.

  3. Toffeeapple

    I wouldn’t use stock cubes either, they are mostly not a good flavour. I agree that chicken wings are delicious though.

  4. Kooky Girl

    This is good timing as I just bought a chicken to roast. I think I will make a stock with the leftovers. There’s just one big question I guess… do I use a stock cube or not …?

  5. Tanya @ Lovely Greens

    Quite a good proportion of chicken wings and drumsticks are actually exported to other markets – Russia in particular!

  6. I agree, I love chicken wings – I always have it as my treat after making a roast chicken to suck all the meat off them as I’m plating up the roast dinner… but I went to Tesco a couple of weeks ago to buy them (to make some southern fried chicken) and was disappointed to not find any there, I shall have to look again, and I shall certainly try this since I usually just make chicken stock from the left over carcass.

  7. I have often looked at the cheapish packs of chicken wings in the supermarket and thought I bet they’d make good stock. Thanks for confirming my suspicions. I haven’t made a chicken stock for ages though – it’s been a while since we bought chicken on the bone. Since we are approaching soup and stew weather, I should probably start thinking about making some stock.

    I have convinced myself that the stock tastes better if the chicken is cooked first but I’ve never actually compared two different stocks made with fresh and pre-cooked chicken.

  8. I agree with Celia! Cubes make all stock taste the same. When I make stock I provide more flavour by throwing in a bay leaf or two, a wedge of onion, a couple of carrots that are getting a bit wizened, maybe a celery stalk, any left-over gravy … there’s enough flavour there to make the cube unnecessary.

    I do keep a tub of Maggi in the larder, but that’s just for when there’s no home-made stock in the freezer.

    So yes, chicken stock cubes — WHY?? 🙂

  9. Magic Cochin

    Not a big fan of wings (though I did nibble the ones Danny barbecued and they were very tasty).

    A good idea using them for stock, but… you know what I’m going to say Fiona! but thought I’d stir things up a bit… NO STOCK CUBES! Far too salty and canned soup flavour!

    We’ll have to do a stock comparison test one day 😉


  10. We can get chicken wings in the Waitrose here in Sudbury – maybe there’s just not enought call for them in Newmarket? I’ve never used them in this way though, but it cetainly sounds a good idea!

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