Why It Works
- Using a combination of meats produces a deeper, richer, more complex stock.
- Blending the vegetables back into the stock boosts its overall flavor while enhancing the stock's body.
Nigerian stock is the backbone of my Nigerian kitchen, an essential component of classics like jollof rice, fried rice, stew, Nigerian chicken curry, and chicken and meat pies, as well as more contemporary recipes and a host of other things. It is typically seasoned with Nigerian/Caribbean-style curry powder, dried thyme, ginger, red onion, and garlic and can include more than one type of meat, often a combination of two from options like beef, chicken, turkey, and goat. The flavors are different enough from Western-style stocks, which often use only one type of meat and usually feature aromatics like celery, carrots, and white or yellow onions.
I almost always make stock as the first step in the journey to a pot of Nigerian stew or jollof rice. This does add to the overall cooking time, but it's worth pointing out that Nigerian stock isn't usually simmered for as long as a Western-style stock: the goal is to extract flavor from the meat and bones, but not to build a very gelatinous stock through the lengthier process of melting tough, collagen-rich connective tissue into gelatin.
When making the stock as part of a larger recipe, I use stewing cuts, and favor ones that have bones attached like ribs, brisket, shank, and neck. This allows me to use the cooked chunks of meat after simmering them in the stock, either in the dish itself (such as for stew) or served alongside dishes like jollof rice after frying the meat in oil or roasting it in the oven or in an air-fryer until browned and crisp—an efficient, no-waste strategy.
It was only a few years ago that I started making stock as a stand-alone recipe, so that I could keep it frozen and have it on hand for convenience sake, especially for recipes where I don't otherwise need or plan to serve the meat from the broth alongside or in the finished dish. In those cases, I usually use bones—most often half beef and half chicken—which are often less expensive than stewing cuts, and allow me to make the most of scraps saved from leftovers (though they're easy enough to also buy for cheap at the butcher). This way, I can have a batch of stock ready for recipes where I don't need the full complement of meat as an accompaniment to the meal or the meat in the recipe itself will come from another source, such as when I'm making meat pies, moinmoin, or Nigerian chicken curry.
For many years, I’d discard the onions and bell pepper once the stock was cooked, but I’ve stopped doing that in favor of blending them back into the stock for a full-bodied, somewhat thicker result. The finished stock should be rich with spicy notes of ginger and garlic, vegetal ones from the green bell pepper, the warmth of curry powder, and some herbiness from the bay leaf and dried thyme.