Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chicken Stock

Up until a year ago I've always bought my chicken stock. When my chef loaned me a copy of "On Cooking" and told me to read the chapter on stocks and sauces I realized there was nothing to making chicken stock so I started making my own, but only every now and then. Even when I did, I never bought chicken bones for stock but used the carcass after eating a roast chicken.

Some chefs will say there's plenty flavour in the carcass and it's perfectly fine to make a stock off it, you'll just get a darker stock. Other chefs will swear by the raw bones and tell you that carcass you've been using to make stock from can just go in the garbage. Chefs are also divided when it comes to ratios of water to bones to vegetables. Some say to go ahead and throw whatever you feel like into your stock, don't worry about how much celery, or how much carrot while others will tell you that using too much carrot will result in a sweeter stock. There seems to be an agreement on what vegetables should not go into stock (for example you don't want to put cabbage in there, especially not red cabbage, nor should you put potato). Celery, carrot and onion is the vegetable of their choice, across the board, although some put the vegetables from the start while others boil the bones first and add the vegetables later, say during the last hour or so. Why? Because vegetables do not need to be cooked for four hours in order to extract all their flavour.

I have started to make stock regularly now, both off raw bones and off carcass, the latter because I can't bear to throw away all the goodness in the chicken carcass. I keep stock in the fridge at all times now. It's great for two reasons. The first reason is that many food recipes require chicken stock and I no longer need to rule them out or run to the store. The second reason is that when the stock is approaching its time in my fridge I will turn it into a soup. This practice has made me more comfortable with soups and sauces. For a long time I could not make good soup, my forte has always been the entrees. Slowly that is changing and I am adding soups and bisques to my repertoire.

As for stock, what you non-cooks need to know is that you should always start your stock with cold water. Also, never stir and never boil your stock. Both will make your stock cloudy. Simmer at low heat. You're looking to get a lazy bubble popping up every now and then. You are also encouraged to cool your stock quickly but I have to say I am guilty of just letting it cool on the stove and refrigerating once it's cool. I figured as long as I bring it to boiling point when I cook it again (whether in soups or sauces), I'm safe. Happy stocking!

1 comment:

  1. So now that you've tried both, what are the taste differences between cooked and raw bones when making stock?