Sunday, November 9, 2008

65. Chicken Stock (p. 928)

When I made Risotto with Porcini a few weeks back, I used the last of my frozen home-made chicken stock. So, it was time to replenish the supply, and I went straight to the Basics chapter of The Book.

This recipe* starts with a whole, three-pound chicken cut into eight pieces. The chicken and the neck and giblets (except the liver ... it can make the stock bitter) go into your biggest pot with a whole lot of water. Bring it to a boil. The Book, oh-so-politely, says to skim off the "froth." But let's call the gross, foamy, bubbling mass of chicken fat what it really is: scum. Anyway, once that little bit of unpleasantness is behind you, it's smooth sailing from there. Add the remaining ingredients: two onions (peels on ... who knew?), garlic, carrots, celery, fresh parsley and spices. Simmer for three hours, occasionally skimming any additional froth.

Once it's done, strain it through a sieve, discard all of the chicken and vegetables, and cool the stock completely at room temperature. The Book says to chill the stock in the refrigerator and then to "scrape the congealed fat from chilled stock." This instruction conjures up an image of a hard film of fat over the top of the stock. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed when, after chilling overnight, there were just a few blobs of fat floating on the surface. These were easily spooned off, no "scraping" necessary.

The finished stock was delicious. Intensely flavored with a beautiful golden color. And while it cooked mostly unattended during a Saturday filled with household chores, it filled the house with a nice comforting aroma.

This was a good recipe, but I felt a little wasteful throwing away the chicken pieces after the stock was done. The stock recipe that I usually make comes from Jamie Oliver's The Naked Chef, and it uses chicken carcasses, so you get to use the chicken meat for other purposes. I could tell the difference in the flavor, though. The Gourmet stock was more flavorful than Jamie's.

When all was said and done, I put ten one-cup portions of stock in the freezer. And, do you know what? It's almost gone already, after I made the Kale and White Bean Soup (check back soon), and after my wife made a delicious pumpkin soup from Cooking Light.
Date Cooked: October 18, 2008
Degree of Difficulty: Easy
Rating: A-

*This recipe from epicurious is similar to the one in The Book.

No comments: