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To brown, or not to brown?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I'm working on, er, enhancing my recipe for cream of chicken and wild rice soup. The base of the soup is chicken broth (duh); I boil chicken thighs for about 40 minutes an skim off the fat. The chicken gets pulled to bits before being returned to the broth to simmer further while I dump in the rest of the ingredients.

My question to you: would the flavour be much enhanced if, say, I browned the chicken skin-side down first? I assume this would render some fat out immediately, helping keep the calorie content down (provided I drain the fat before adding the water). But would this do anything, flavour wise?
post #2 of 19
The Maillard reaction (aka "browning") will always give you a depth of flavour, whether it be the bones, the skin or the flesh. However, this is a cream of chicken so it is probably desirable to keep the broth light in colour.

Since you skim off the fat from your broth, rendering the fat while browning is really of no consequence to you.

I find that most store bought chickens are so flavourless to begin with, that whatever flavour you have gets lost in a soup, regardless of whether it was roasted, poached or sauteed. One way to add flavour is to get a better chicken (kosher, free range, whatever). Another way is to make a flavourful broth with LOTS of chicken bones and proper aromatics. Instead of poaching your chicken in water and using that as the broth, make a nice chicken stock instead to poach. THis will intensify the flavours all around.
post #3 of 19
Anneke beat me to the punch but I was going to say the same thing.

Make a good homemade stock to intensify the flavor.
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post #4 of 19

chicken demi

often times when i make a demi-glace for meats (barring filet mignon) i will do a half beef and half roasted chick stock. what i mean by this is to simply bake your chicken thighs, pull the meat and return the bones to the oven for browning. then use the bones in the same manner as a chix stock. it adds quite a bit of flavor and adds alot of depth to anything you do. you can treat it as a stock ,,, or keep reducing until you have a glace de viande. you should all try chicken demi,,, unbelieveable flavor.
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks very much for your responses.

When making the chicken stock, about how long should I allow it to simmer? I know that it seems like everyone has their own personal preferences - ranging from 2-3 hours to overnight and even longer. Which is "correct" - if there is such a thing?
post #6 of 19

simmer

for just a good rich stock i simmer for about three hours,,, any more and it will start to cloud up and loose clarity.if you want to simmer longer i would omit celery from the stock-- seems to bitter after a couple of hours.
post #7 of 19
I never brown chicken prior to making stock because I peel off the skin before placing the meat in the water. In addition, I never use breast because it has little flavor - I only use thighs and backs for my stock. These give the richest flavor and most gelatin.

Chix stock is not like beef stock that really benefits from roasting the bones. You get at least 50% more flavor from beef stock if you roast the bones - and you lose a lot of the fat as well.
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post #8 of 19

no brown

hey chiff,,, im curious if you are simply saying you do not prefer a browned chix. stock or you truly don't belive it offers any flavor difference. I myself and several chefs i confer with all agree you can't beat the taste of roasting chix. for stock. this of course only pertains to certain items as some things may be overpowered by the flavor. try making a chicken demi and i promise you will change your mind.
post #9 of 19

Here is a stock scenario for you all

I worked with a sous chef that belived that when making a new stock you should use the stock that is left in the walkin, and it would bring it up to par (that is refresh ). I had a hard time with this. What do u think? He also believed that I should freeze the molding berries and then make into a coulis. Uck! I used to throw them out. What do you all think of this. We were never taught in school anything llike this.
post #10 of 19
Ick. Not an unusual scenario unfortunately. I worked for a four diamond hotel whose chef did just that. Believe me, I have stories...

At some of the 'finer' kitchens I've worked in however, we always had both dark and light chicken stocks on hand. The light one was used for soups and such, while the darker one was used for sauces/reductions. Both have their place in the kitchen, and when executed properly, they are each wonderful in their own right.
post #11 of 19
...im curious if you are simply saying you do not prefer a browned chix. stock or you truly don't belive it offers any flavor difference....

That's how I learned it in school - we didn't roast the chicken. I have found that using dark meat only and including plenty of backs gives a very flavorful stock. When you roast chix for stock, do you include the skin when you assemble the stockpot?
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post #12 of 19
This is clearly a person too focused on the bottom line. Willingness to use spoiled product does not tell me he is interested as much in the final product on the plate than the final product on the spreadsheet.
Food is sex for the stomach.
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post #13 of 19
You are correct about the berries. I used to lose them from the walkin. I had to draw the line. But I am wondering more about the stock, veal in this case. Old stock is old stock, right? I would think you should not use it after X amt of days. The another thing they did was make a second stock with the bones. Wouldnt that make a weak not gelatinous stock? What do u all think of this? Thanks for the advice.:confused:
post #14 of 19
...The another thing they did was make a second stock with the bones. Wouldnt that make a weak not gelatinous stock? ...

This is called remoulage and it creates a more flavorful base than just plain water for your next batch of stock.
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post #15 of 19
...When making the chicken stock, about how long should I allow it to simmer? ...

I'm probably in the minority here but I like to use the meat from chicken stock so I don't simmer it forever. I simmer it 1 or 1.5 hours, remove the meat and set aside for another use, break the bones (to expose the marrow) and return them to the pot for another hour or so. I only use dark meat in stock and plenty of backs and necks (for the gelatin). I've never had a weak stock, even using this controversial method of cooking the meat for only an hour - hour and a half.
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post #16 of 19

Re: To brown, or not to brown?

You just have to brown, sear, sautee' whatever first! Take away the chicken for the time being. Carmalize & deglaze the pan with a nice rich Chardonnay. Add rice and continue to reduce till rice is seared. In the meantime I would have made a Veloute'/White Sauce. I would not pull chicken to bits,but hand pull it and then using a proper kitchen knife dice it. Now to seasoning and finishing, thats all up to you, myself I would say going with fresh basil & sage theme to enhance the wild rice, tarragon would be nice too. So many different ways you could go. Salt, Pepper all the usual jazz, mix it all up simmer for a hour and VIOLA :bounce: :bounce:

PS:Julienne Fresh Baby Spinich and Fresh Corriander goes amazing with creme of chicken, bacon bit and creme fracher garnish, drooool...

:chefHogan

[QUOTE]Originally posted by brie
I'm working on, er, enhancing my recipe for cream of chicken and wild rice soup. The base of the soup is chicken broth (duh); I boil chicken thighs for about 40 minutes an skim off the fat. The chicken gets pulled to bits before being returned to the broth to simmer further while I dump in the rest of the ingredients.

My question to you: would the flavour be much enhanced if, say, I browned the chicken skin-side down first? I assume this would render some fat out immediately, helping keep the calorie content down (provided I drain the fat before adding the water). But would this do anything, flavour wise?
[/QUOTE:
post #17 of 19
With soussweets on the browning & chiffonade on the timing.
champagne for my bad friends
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champagne for my bad friends
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post #18 of 19
and everyone give a big hand for mike on the drums!!!!!!!!!!!!
post #19 of 19
by saying should you brown *!* side first, im assuming that you are making your broth from a brown stock.

By assuming this, i would say that it would be prudent to say that to "enhance" the flavour, the chicken carcasses should be roasted and the chicken thighs should be poached gently in a stock.

Chef Hogan is right in saying that the roasting pan should be deglazed (but only if it is a brown stock base).

On the other side, chicken thighs are a brown/dark meat and contain a lot of blood.

My suggestion is that you concentrate on generating the flavour within the soup/broth (i.e. well seasoned) and perhaps grill or roast the thighs - then cool (v important especially when you are slicing the meat) and then return the meat to the soup/broth on reheating.

Another chain of thought is that you smoke the chicken that will be returned to the soup. Again more flavour.

anyway, give it a go.

nick
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