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Chicken stock: 7 questions

post #1 of 62
Thread Starter 
Last night I made chicken stock:

In a big pot,
• 1 roasted chicken carcass + neck + few odd bones
• 1 leak cut in two lengthwise, then cut in big pieces
• 2 celery ribs cut in two lengthwise, then cut in big pieces - no leaves (taste bitter)
• 3 large carrots cut in two lengthwise
• 1 quartered onion
• 5 peppercorns
• 1 sprig thyme
• Dozen parsley stems
• Just a little salt
Then I poured water to cover everything, simmered for 3 hours, strained, put in fridge.

It tastes ok, not very chickeny, I think I may have too much veggies? Or too much water. Or maybe it's the normal taste, not sure! It kinda tastes like a vegetable soup, but with less flavor (then again there's barely any salt).

Questions!

1) How long can I keep it in the fridge before use/freeze?
2) What can I use it for? I usually use it for risotto or paella, but not planning on making either. I'll use it for a sauce tonight, but I have liters of it. Maybe like 4 liters or so.
4) I covered the pot to bring it to a boil, then reduced and uncover for simmering. Is that the right way? Are you supposed to leave it covered the whole time?
5) I never skimmed it: there was nothing to skim! It was pretty much clear. Is that normal?
6) At the bottom of the chicken's roasting pan were one thick layer of gelatinous golden solidified jus, topped with a thin layer of white fat. Were any of those supposed to go in the stock? I threw them both away - big mistake?
7) Can I (should I) put it back on the burner and let it reduce to concentrate the flavor? Can't see myself using and/or freezing 4 liters of stock.

Thanks!!
post #2 of 62
Stock doesn't have a strong flavor.

After straining and defatting, you may want to reduce it some to intensify the flavors and many uses involve reduction anyway so you're saving some time and hassle later on.

This reduction is one reason why you don't salt stock as it then gets too salty when reduced.
post #3 of 62
per phatch's note, stock should not taste "as strong as chicken soup" for example. it is more delicate.

your basic ingredients sound fine - it's always adjustable up and down. I would have done more onion, for example, in slices - to expose the flesh.

>>gelatinous golden solidified jus, topped with a thin layer of white fat. Were any of those supposed to go in the stock?
oops... yes the gelatin like stuff - that what it is - is a good thing to add; the fat you can skip. the gelatin is water soluble but congeals when it cools.

my experience has been when starting with a cooked carcass, there's less scummy stuff - if I use raw bits and pieces from cutting up a chicken, more scum & foam (proteins, as I understand, go bubbly . . ) of course there's also more fat to skim as it's not been "pre-rendered" by a roasting.

I never cover my stock - dunno if that's "right" - I just don't. it also starts the reducing bit. reducing is a good idea.

if you know you're not going to use the full quantity, cool & freeze it right away. I use plastic zip top bags with about 300ml each. they lie flat, stack like cards.
post #4 of 62
Thread Starter 
Great, thanks for the feedback guys!! I think I'll reduce it a bit tonight then cool and freeze what I'm not using tonight.
post #5 of 62
I do the same, but I went to the dollar store and bought a set of 100ml. plastic containers, about 20 of them. So when a make a batch of stock I cool it in an ice bath, fill all the little containers, then freeze the rest in 1 l. containers. They all stack in the freezer neatly.
post #6 of 62
The reason your stock doesn't have much flavor is because you didn't use any meat, skin, combs, feet, or anything else that would add said flavor. You need more than a carcass.

I like to use a carcass, a whole chicken, scraps (like wingtips, and necks), and feet and combs -- which make a wonderful if not entirely necessary contribution. Start by putting last night's carcass in a very hot oven for about half hour to get some brown on the bone. Remove it from the oven and put it in a pot with water, a few pepper corns, a whole chicken, and scraps.

Then, the basic sequence is:
1. Bring the water to a simmer (about 200F at sea level);
2. Allow the chicken to form scum, and skim all scum off (at least two skimmings over a 5 minute period, better 3 over 10 minutes);
3. Add the aromatics and herbs;
4. Remove the whole chicken as soon as it's (barely) poached (35 - 45 minutes -- ish). Pick the meat off; discard the skin; reserve the meat for a worthy purpose such as pot pie, salad, enchiladas, etc.; and return the second carcass to the pot. Give it five minutes and skim again if necessary.
5. Add any other vegetables to the pot (such as parsnips);
6. Simmer at least 2 more hours, preferably 4;
7. Sieve, if not clear. If possible use a fine sieve to prevent the passage of any solids, and press the vegetables;
8 (option 1). Defat with a spoon and paper towel; and if further clarification is desired, use an egg-white raft; or
8. (option 2). Cool and defat. Then, if a very, very clear stock is desired, as for aspic or consomme, reheat and purify with an egg-white raft. The less fat in the stock, the better the raft will work.

This (these?) technique(s) will give you a flavorful stock. There is no reason a stock, especially a roasted (aka brun) stock should not be as flavorful as chicken soup -- minus the salt. In fact, the addition of salt and white pepper should be enough to create a fully developed and delicious soup.

Once defatted, you may reduce the stock to any of several levels of concentration -- including a full-on glace. Ultra-reduced stock is a very handy commodity to have around.

BDL
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post #7 of 62
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for all those details BDL!

And if I go for a "Glace", what kind of consistency are we talking about? And how long can I keep it in the fridge, or sould I freeze it? Thanks!
post #8 of 62
BDL covered most of the bases. But a couple of additional points:

1. There is no reason to cover the stock as it's cooking, and most authorities say to leave the pot uncovered.

2. Watch your water content. After putting the chicken and bones in the pot, add cold water to come only about 3/4 up the solids.

3. Roasted chicken and bones produces what's known as a dark stock, which is ideal for soups and some sauces. Most sauces, however, particularly those where a white appearance is important, are best made from white stock.

To answer your other question, fresh stock can be kept for up to three days in the fridge. If you're keeping it longer than that, either freeze or can it.

For freezing, reheat the stock to a simmer, then cool it quickly, package, and freeze. One way of fast cooling is to fill a zipper bag with ice and drop it into the stock. Repeat as needed.

Canning requires a pressure canner. 20 minutes for pints, 25 minutes for quarts, at 10 lbs pressure at sea level.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #9 of 62
That gelatinous layer is exactly the stuff you are trying to extract from the bones for your stock. There's a lot of flavor in it, next time don't throw it out.

mjb.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #10 of 62
1. It's very difficult to tell what stock tastes like because of the absence of salt. Take 1/3 cup or so, medium-hot, and dissolve a pinch of salt in it, then taste.

2. I agree with BDL and KY on flavor in general terms. I think a good rule of thumb is roughly half as much veg as chicken, but bearing in mind that the least flavorful part of the chicken is the bones. The water should barely cover the material in the pot; if it reduces too much, you're cooking it too fast, but in any case you should then add cold water back to the original level.

3. Don't cover the stock. There's no reason to do so, and there is a small but real risk of the stock going "off," i.e. breeding a wild bacterial culture, if it is allowed to cook covered. Under no circumstances cool the stock covered: then you really are asking for a culture.

4. If you wish to keep fresh stock more than 3 days without freezing, bring it to a rapid boil, cook 1 minute at a boil, cool, and refrigerate again.

5. If stock seems weak, reduce it until it isn't.

6. You won't get a proper glace from this stock -- not enough gelatin. But if you should decide to try it some time, having first made sure that you have used lots of gelatinous pieces (feet and combs are excellent), simply make good brown chicken stock (see BDL's explanation). Cool, chill, and peel off floating fat. Return to a boil and skim anything that wants to float. Now boil hard until reduced about 50%. Check the consistency: if it seems rather thick, like full cream, decant it into a saucepan (ideally nonstick) that it will fill about 2/3 full (if it's still thin, reduce until as thick as cream). Return to a strong simmer, not a boil, and reduce a further 50%. Keep an eye on it: as it thickens, it can scorch. Once it seems very thick, like warm maple syrup, pour it into a heatproof rubber bowl, e.g. Tupperware, being sure to scrape all the good stuff out of the pot, as it will want to stick. Cool uncovered on the counter, then refrigerate UNCOVERED until very cold -- overnight is best. Now twist the container and the stuff should fall out in a container-shaped block. It should be the consistency of hard rubber. With a heavy knife, cut it into rough cubes about 1/2" on a side, like small ice cubes. Return to the container, and place UNCOVERED in the fridge. If your fridge has odor issues, put a new thing of baking soda right next to the container. In about 3-4 days, check: the cubes should be like rocks, all the remaining trace moisture having dissolved. These cubes are now pure glace. They dissolve in hot liquid. Add one cube every time you make a meat sauce of any kind.

My experience is that chicken does not produce a great glace, although it can be a good component in a stock that does make a great glace.

For a really excellent explanation, see Joseph Peterson, Sauces. His discussion of stock-making is also superb, and will answer all your questions and more.
post #11 of 62
BDL
Hit most of the important points. What you threw away was the heart of your stock. Do not cover. I believe you added to much water. Freeze after 3 days, when you thaw bring to a reboil. The stock can be used in almost all applications except when a beef or fish stock is called for.
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post #12 of 62
Along with the great information provided above, I've noticed that when I add carrots into the stock to early or have too large (or too many) carrots in the stock it has an overpowering vegetable stock flavor.

dan
post #13 of 62
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much to all of you for so many details. I'll bookmark this thread and may just buy the book you're recommending, Chris.

I've reduced the stock by about half yesterday, and the flavor came out. I think I'll make risotto tonight!
post #14 of 62
Actually it is James Peterson.

mjb.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #15 of 62
Actually, French Fries, I don't recommend James Petterson's Sauces for the typical home cook. It's not the best choice.

True, it could be subtitled "everything you ever wanted to know about sauces and a lot more". But it's encyclopedic (612 pages), geared to the professional kitchen (for instance, your brown chicken stock made a couple of liters, his starts with 12 pounds of bones and chicken parts, and is made in a 25-quart stockpot), and is very expensive (Retail cost of the new 3rd edition is 50 bucks).

I think, as you found with your stock questions, that your best approach is to continue experimenting, and posting here when you run into questions or problems.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #16 of 62
Thread Starter 
Well thank you for that opinion. I love doing both experimenting and reading about the science of food and understanding WHY I (or "we" or "they") do what I do. I've come to a point where I just can't stand reading something like "never salt your yolks before you beat them" (I totally just made that up) unless there's a good explanation for it (whether that explanation is taken from science or from simple experimentation). So if the book is thicker because it explains the how and the why and the science behind it, I might be actually more attracted to it.

But I guess I'll try to go through a few pages in a bookstore before I jump on it.
post #17 of 62
I am curious if anyone else has ever used a pressure cooker for stock making. I often use one with both beef and poultry stock. I find that after roasting and the addition of the usual vegetable suspects, the pressure cooker really extracts all the gelatinous material from the bones, and saps all the flavor out of the vegetables. I consistently get a thicker and richer stock this way. I know it's heresy, and don't really care.:lips:
post #18 of 62
I just read something about this recently. I've never used a pressure cooker myself -- I don't own one at the moment -- so maybe those who are experts can comment.

What I've read is that the cooker brings the water to very high temperature without actually roiling, i.e. without the "rolling" effect that makes the liquid move around. As a result, you can extract flavor rapidly and efficiently without clouding the stock with fat and free proteins. The result is supposed to be a remarkably clear stock that is amazingly gelatinous. The bones, once strained and allowed to dry a bit, are apparently so brittle you can tear them to bits with one hand, because everything that held them together has gone into the stock -- thus all the gelatin.

To do this, you have to set the pressure such that you get high heat and no roiling, and I haven't the faintest how you'd do this, not being a pressure cooker expert.

Any comments and suggestions from the experts?
post #19 of 62
When I use a pressure cooker my stock rarely needs clarifying beyond pouring it thru a cheescloth lined china cap. The interesting thing about it is that once chilled, the fat comes to the top of course but the rest completely jells, yet the volume of liquid isn't drastically reduced. In order to reach that level of concentration on the stovetop I've got to simmer it all day, and the volume of finished product goes way down. This tells me that lots more good stuff is being extracted by the pressure. What you've read about the condition of the bones after pressure cooking is true. What's left of them chewable and virtually tasteless.
post #20 of 62
Most pressure cooker cookbooks have stock recipes. It's also fairly quick.

Similarly, there are stock recipes for the slow cooker which is also a convenient way to make stock without agitation and good low temp control.
post #21 of 62
IMO your first priority should be to establish the stock. Simmer, and when the stock has taken shape, add your aromatics. It's a personal preference, but if you add the aromatics towards the half way point, or 2/3, you can be better assured the aromatics won't over-power the over-all flavor of the stock. You can add or remove the aromatics at any point during the simmer. The purpose of the aromatics is to enhance and support the flavors of the chicken stock.
"To be a good chef all you got to do is lots of little things well" -Marco Pierre

"As far as cuisine is concerned, one must read everything, see everything, hear everything, try everything, observe everything, in order to retain in the end, just a little bit." -Fernand Point
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"To be a good chef all you got to do is lots of little things well" -Marco Pierre

"As far as cuisine is concerned, one must read everything, see everything, hear everything, try everything, observe everything, in order to retain in the end, just a little bit." -Fernand Point
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post #22 of 62
RJX,

Not to argue, but only to inform: The main purpose of holding back on the aromatics is to prevent them from absorbing the scum or other impurities the protein components may produce. To prevent aromatics from taking over, the correct method is to use them in the correct amounts. The aromatics, as well as everything else in the stock (potato peelings, herbs, e.g.), should surrender their all and be rendered tasteless in the process. Whatever goes into stock is either used completely or used poorly.

BDL
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post #23 of 62
@ French Fries
If the Sauces cookbook by James Peterson seems too daunting, try his Splendid Soups cookbook. Same writing style, but might be more useful for you. Same stock recipes.
Here's an amazon link: SPLENDID SOUPS
I used the cheftalk "jump to amazon" in the link.


My $0.02:
I put the aromatics in the bottom of the pot so that the chicken weighs them down. I don't like them floating at the top where the scum and oil accumulates. Might not be worth mentioning, just a personal preference.
Also, I add some white wine towards the end, along with the peppercorns.
post #24 of 62
Curious about everybody's opinions regarding the use of celery leaves in stock. The entremet at a place I staged at last week asked that I not use the leaves due to its adding bitterness (also followed by the OP) and to peel the carrots and onions. On the other hand, when I make stock at home or at the hotel I do use the leaves, leave the carrots unpeeled (though with tops cut off and cleaned), and add a bit of onion skin (sans root ends) for colour. What do you do?
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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post #25 of 62
If I'm making:

A. White stock, I don't use carrots at all, just onion (including the onion paper), parsley, parsnips and celery (including the leaves). Carrots bring color to the stock, that's why they and anything else which does the same is excluded.

B. Regular stock, I use pretty much everything within reason.

C. Roast (aka brun) stock, I use absolutely everything up to and including potato peelings (and sometimes the heterodoxy of a little tomato or tomato paste). Often (but not always) I'll roast the aromatics in a hot oven for a while to develop color and sweetness. I've said enough already in this thread about how I make it, other than to add if I've got a roast chicken on the agenda I start saving trimmings and peelings in anticipation of the follow up stock.

More often than not, when I do make stock it's roast stock; and then save a fair proportion as glace to be used for sauce making. A real classic sauce purist would use mostly white and regular, but I think the days when presentation was that much more important than flavor are gone. At least we can hope so.

BDL (or whatever my name is)
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post #26 of 62
I've heard that about celery leaves, too. But I always use them, and have never noticed any bitterness.

Like BDL, I believe in stocks that have flavor. Can't remember the last time I made a white stock.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #27 of 62
I think there are times when you want the subtle flavours in a white stock, though I guess it's there to generally allow students to make blanquette de veau.
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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post #28 of 62
A trick I like very much, which I got from Jacques Pepin. Have a big tupperware standing near your board when you cut. Everything that could go into stock that you trim from your veggies, throw it in there. And that's almost anything. I avoid peppers of all kinds, because I do think they make bitter stock. But tomato peelings and squeezings, yes, and of course onion ends, carrot peelings, you name it. I am a little wary of potato, but I'll use a bit. Keep the container in the fridge until it is packed full, then freeze it solid. When you go to make a big batch of stock, roast your bones and stuff, heave in one or two containers of bits (depending on meat quantity), roast until the veg are browned, and go from there. Works great, and you feel like you're really being thrifty.
post #29 of 62
I received a coupon for one of those boxed chicken stocks and tried it.
I might say it was not bad. Not overly sweet or salty, perfect colour. You could alter or adjust it to your taste by adding a bouquet garni for a while and simmer. But again time and effort wise it proved good and I will use it again.
Now I am ging to try the beef flavour. The stuff taste totaly different from that canned broth as I opened one of them to compare it ,and it does not have that metalic taste.
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post #30 of 62
I've never used potato peelings in stock. What does that add?

When making beef stock I add a rind of parmesan, which I collect from the ends of my cheese and freeze just for this purpose.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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