At this point we’ve tied a bird up and sliced another one it into pieces. To complete this hat-trick of poultry domination we’re going to render the bones into a viscous, gelatinous, and delicious concoction. The resultant potion is the essence of meat, The Building Blocks Of Sauces, AND OTHERWISE KNOWN AS LIQUID GOLD!!! AHA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HAAAAA!!!
So what’s the deal with stocks? It’s like I said above: we’re trying to make a full flavored liquid with enough gelatin so it thickens when it’s reduced. A good stock will jiggle like jello when its cold.
The recipe for chicken stock is very simple. There are only 4 ingredients: water, bones, mirepoix and a sacet d’espices. Simmer for 6 hours and strain.
Add 8 #’s of bones to a stock pot; any pot that is taller than it is wide will do. I’m making chicken stock here and had a bunch of bones that I saved from previous meals. What if you don’t have bones? Usually you can get them from your butcher. Turns out that I only had 3# in the freezer so I picked up a 5# frozen bag from a local butcher shop. Just thaw the bones and drop’m in.
Add 6 quarts of cold water. Starting with cold water is very important. It draws the impurities out of the bones, allowing you to skim them off so you are left with a clear stock.
Slowly bring the stock to a boil and the turn it down to a simmer. By slowly, I mean medium heat. Don’t jack the heat to high. The slower it comes to a boil the cleaner a product you’ll have. Let it simmer for 4 hours.
While it’s simmering check it every once in a while. At one point, you’ll see some scummy foam develop on the surface. Skim it off with a ladle. Check back periodically and do this whenever you see some gunk.
After 4 hour add 1# of mirepoix and a sachet d’espices. The standard mirepoix mix is 2 parts onion/1 part carrot/1 part celery. In this case it will be 8oz of onion (1/2 large onion), 4oz of carrot (3 medium) and 4oz of celery (2 large stalks). Use a scale if you want to be exact. The sachet is made up of 8-10 thyme sprigs, 1-2 bay leaves, 1 tsp peppercorns, and 8-10 parsley stems.
Simmer for an additional 2 hrs.
Strain the stock through a colander lined with cheese cloth or a fine mesh strainer into quart containers. Press down on the solids to retain as much liquid as possible. I usually chill the quarts in an ice bath and then move them into the fridge.
The next day the fat will rise to the top and form a solid layer that is easily removed. After I remove the fat, I take what I need and pop the rest in the freezer.
This recipe is fairly standard for all stocks. The simmer time changes, but the basic principles are the same. Few ingredients, starting with cold water, slow simmering, skimming and straining.
I hope that this post shows how easy it is to turn simple ingredients into something that can really transform your cooking into something above and beyond the norm.