I often wonder how many people take the time to make simple stocks in there homes. Do people even realize how much good can come out of a simple homemade stock? Truthfully, I was wondering this after returning from the store with a whole chicken, parts of which were destined for the stock pot! Something happens in a can (or one of those strange boxes) that store bought stock is sold in, something not good. Regardless of what the ingredients say, it bares very little resemblance to the real thing. You cannot trust a can.
Be sure to choose the proper pot for making stocks. Ideally they are thinner and taller to minimize evaporation. Water for stocks should not cover the bones by more than an inch or two.
There are white stocks and brown stocks (roasted). Brown stocks involve a roasting of the bones, and sometimes caramelizing of the vegetables. In the case of this chicken stock I will only be roasting the bones. In future posts we can look at some other classic stocks like brown veal stock, and shellfish stock, where I would roast or perhaps caramelize the vegetables.
It is to the production of perfect stocks that the sauce cook should devote himself – the sauce cook who is as the Marquis de Cussy Remarked, “the enlightened chemist, the creative genius, and the cornerstone of the edifice of superlative cookery.” – An excerpt from The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery by August Escoffier.
Indeed stock is everything in cooking, at least in French Cooking. Without it nothing can be done. – The Escoffier Cookbook
My stock manifesto is as follows:
– I believe that a stock should be flavorful but very balanced. More than half the time I reduce the stock (to make sauces or glazes) so I never add any salt or too much of any one ingredient because it will concentrate as it reduces. If I decide to make a soup instead (which will require minimal reduction) I can always add more onion, garlic, celery and carrots when I make that soup, but I can never take it out . . . especially salt.
– A stock should be started in cold water brought slowly up to a simmer and skimmed carefully to get all the foam and impurities that come to the top off.
– A stock should not be boiled, rather it should barely simmer.
– A stock is not a garbage can for inferior or old products, rather all ingredients must be first class.
– The bones for a roasted stock should be golden brown only, not overly roasted or burnt. It will make the stock bitter. In the case of veal stocks where you want a darker color it is from the addition of very tough meat, such as shank, that the additional color will be gained, not from over roasting.
Simple Roasted Chicken Stock
Makes about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 quarts
2.5 to 3 pounds chicken bones, necks and trimmings (the bones of a 5 ½ pound bird)
1 onion cut to 1 inch chunks (about 7 ½ ounces)
2 stalk of celery, cut to 1 inch chunks (about 2 ½ ounces)
2 carrots, cut to 1 inch chunks (about 2 ½ ounces)
8 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon chopped garlic (or 2 garlic cloves)
2 quarts of water (or enough to cover the bones and vegetables by 1.5 to 2 inches)
- In a 400f degree oven, on a sheet tray roast the bones to a golden brown. If you over roast and let them get burnt your stock will take on a bitter flavor. It should take about an hour depending on the oven.
- Remove the bones from the oven and using tongs and a spatula place in your stock pot, add the rough chopped vegetables. If the bits and pieces baked on the sheet tray are not burned you should use your spatula and a bit of water to scrape the good stuff up and put in your stock pot (drain any excess fat and grease first). This is called the “fond” and is very flavorful. There is no reason to cut the vegetables too small as the extended cooking time will cause vary small cut vegetables to disintegrate and could cause the stock to be less clear.
- Add cold water to the pot and cover the bones and vegetables by 1.5 to 2 inches, turn on the heat and bring slowly to a simmer. As the stock comes slowly to a simmer the proteins coagulate and rise to the top with impurities, skim these off with a ladle or a spoon.
- Simmer this stock for 5 hours skimming the stock each hour. At the half way point you should add a bit of warm water to bring the stock to the level it started at.
- After the five hours carefully strain the stock. It may be easier to use some tongs or slotted spoons to get the large bones out first then strain the rest. Depending on the use you can strain once through a course strainer and then again through a fine strainer to remove any smaller bits.
- If you are not using the stock right away be sure to chill quickly by putting the stock in several smaller containers. You can later combine them, but stocks are perishable and you will want to cool them down quickly.
- If you are going to use this for sauce you could reduce by ¾ now then chill it down. That will cause there to be less reduction later. You can even freeze in ice cube trays.
Do not let the sands of thyme find their way into your lunch,