Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Making Stocks My Way

Someone recently asked me how I make stocks and then requested a post on stocks as it seems most chefs have differing methods on the preparation of stocks. Stock is an essential ingredient for many creations in a kitchen. Most often stocks are the base for soups and sauces. Stock is also important for creating those wonderful braised dishes we love to cook this time of year when it is cold outside. Stock is also a wonderful liquid to blanch vegetables in, along with steaming different foods as stock will add flavor.

Stock is certainly not that liquid found in the Swanson box in the soup section in the grocery store. There is nothing wrong with these products, but they are usually lacking in a few areas. First, they are broths, not stock. Broth is produced from meat, perhaps with bones as well. Meat does not contain the gelatin found in the bones of meat, poultry and fish. This means as the broth reduces it does not gain viscosity. In addition, many of the store purchased broths have salt added. This salt and many of the "odd" flavors found sometimes in broths are reduced and just make your sauce, soup or other dishes taste "off."

Stock is really easy to make at home, not to mention it also adds amazing scent to your home while they cook and once you cook with the real thing, you will kick yourself for making dishes with broth. So here I'll share with you a couple recipes for stock over the next couple days. Today I'll give you my chicken stock recipe. I'll get into veal, vegetable, seafood and shellfish the next few days. My times are a little longer than most other people's variations, but the extra time means extra flavor and natural gelatin.

Brown Chicken Stock:
5 lbs. Chicken bones (backs, necks, thighs, etc. meat removed)
1 onion, large diced
4 carrots, peeled and large diced
4 celery stalks, large diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 leek, white and light green part only
2 cloves garlic
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley
5 sprigs of time
3 bay leaves
8 peppercorns

1. place chicken bones in a large roasting pan and roast in a 375 degree oven until the turn golden brown, depending on the meat on the bones, size of bones, your oven, etc. this time will vary. Check the bones after 20 minutes, and see how the browning is going. If it needs more time, use your discretion, you just want golden brown though, no darker.

2. While the bones are browning, heat a large saute pan on the stove top over medium-high heat. Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and then add the onions to the pan and saute until soft. Add the carrots and celery to the pan and saute again until soft and the onions begin to take on some color. Add the tomato paste and then saute for a few minutes and lightly caramelize.

3. Place the chicken bones, vegetables and remaining ingredients into a large pot and cover with COLD water. (Many people tie up the spices , herbs and leek to the side of the pot in some cheese cloth. I don't see the point as you will be straining the stock anyways). Place the empty roasting pan from the chicken bones over a stovetop burner and pour a cup of white wine in and scrap all of the bits off the bottom of the pan, add all of this to your stock pot. Heat to pot to simmer, don't boil.

4. Leave pot to simmer, for the first 1-2 hour skim off the "scum" and other impurities and fat that come to the top of the pot (This "scum" is protein and other stuff in the bones).

5. Leave the pot on simmer for 8-10 hours. You my need to add water to the pot, but make sure the pot is just barely simmering and the water is covering the bones. Once the time is up, remove from the heat, strain out all of the solids through a fine mesh strainer and pour stock into a large container. Chill th stock overnight and the next morning there will probably be a cap of solidified fat on top. Just pull this off and toss it out.

6. From this point you can put the stock into smaller containers and chill in the fridge for up to a week or freeze it for about 3-4 months tops. The freezer does funny things to food over low periods of time with all that opening and closing and shifting and what not.

Variation:White Chicken Stock

Do not brown the chicken bones, do not saute the vegetables and do not use the tomato paste or white wine. Place the chicken and other ingredients in the pot as before and cover with cold water and just follow the same process. This will give you a stock with lighter color and flavor.


Genie said...

Making stock is one of my most favorite things to do in the whole world. But it never occurred to me to roast the bones first. Any reason why I couldn't roast venison, turkey, or beef bones first as well?

I can hardly wait to try it and see how different it is!

Christopher Allen Tanner said...

You can make a brown stock from almost any type of bones except for fish stock. I often roast my chicken bones for stock and when I make a game stock with something like venison I always roast the bones because I prefer the flavor. However, because of the stronger flavor with game, I generally add some veal bones to the pot to mellow the flavor a bit. I'm sure some beef bones could work as well.

I have actually make demi-glace from my brown chicken stock on a regular basis, I think chicken stock and/or other poultry stocks like turkey are very versatile. I have done the same with venison, but usually add some sort of berry like lingon berry to the sauce in order to mellow the game flavor again.

Genie said...

Duh, never occurred to me to combine beef and venison for stock. Maybe because I never have beef in the house anymore! But next time I make a venison stock, I think I'll definitely go pick up some beef bones. The only way I'm getting veal bones around here is to go slaughter one of our calves! Hubby would NOT approve. They aren't for our table.

Berry to mellow the gamey flavor, I'll remember that! I've never made a demi-glace, but as much as I love making stock I suppose it's the next step. I'll get there eventually.

Thank you!

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