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bdevidal

Chicken Stock Breakthrough!

55 posts in this topic

Sorry about the hyperbolic topic title, but I'm still really jazzed...

I've always had a problem with my stocks, chicken in particular. It wasn't the time, or the effort, or the process, it was that the results were always...flat. They had decent umami, good body, were serviceable for sauces, etc, but they were never "chicken-ey" enough. I tried more chicken, less chicken, more meat, more bones, different cuts, different pots, aromatics, short cook, long cook, etc; nothing seemed to get me where I wanted to be. I was looking for something like chicken au jus, that roasted chicken, straight-from-the-cutting-board-gutter chicken flavor. Then I had an idea (which may or may not be novel to some people). It was spurred by three somewhat tangential subjects: an interest in distilling, a discussion about what would happen if you were thrown out of an air lock into the vacuum of space, an a realization about my stock making practices during a prior run. In reverse order, I realized one of the reasons I like making stock is because of how good it makes the house smell. I was always disappointed that the stock never seemed to live up to that enticing aroma. In the contexts of distilling, I realized that that aroma (which is of course a large element of taste) is nothing more than a combination of volatile chemicals, each with own vapor pressure, etc. As the vast majority of the aromas come out of a stock at or below a bare simmer, most must have a boiling point below that of water. In addition, in a large stock pot you can have a fairly large variation in both temperature and pressure, which helps explain the extended release. However, you still need a fair amount of heat to free up the flavor elements from the contents of the pot, plus you have to keep it out of the danger range. The air lock discussion boiled (no pun intended) down to the fact that even in the vacuum of space your blood would not boil, due to the fact that one's skin and tissue would retain sufficient pressure to prevent it. I realized that a similar thing happens with a roasted chicken, that even though the temperature is high enough to create and free up the flavor elements, they are trapped inside the bird until it is carved. Which leads us to...

The Plan: Prevent aroma from boiling off stock with as little extra effort as possible

One easy way to do this would be a pressure cooker, but then you are dealing with 1) temperatures above boiling point of water @ STP, which may break down bones, introduce other complications, 2) an extra hardware element that not everyone has, 3) limited capacity (for most people), and 4), at least for me, an unanodized cooking vessel exposed to a heated, flavorful liquid for an extended time (my only pressure cooker of any usable stock size is a big pressure canner).

What I ended up doing was ridiculously simple - roasting bags and a low oven. I took a couple of turkey roasting bags (which are huge, food safe, and damn near chemically impermeable), put one inside the other (double layered), put those in a stock pot, loaded up the bag-lined pot with chicken bits (four or five stripped frames, plus some skinned thigh quarters, maybe five bucks total) and aromatics (going lightly on the aromatics), filled it up with boiling water from another pot, tied off the bags (inside bag, then outside bag, using twist ties), then bunged the whole thing in a low oven (180-200, not above 200) for 24 hours. I pulled it, let it cool for 4-6 hours (which would normally be muy mal from a safety standpoint, but the bags were still sealed and the contents had been heat treated), then strained. The resulting stock was remarkably clear for having not been skimmed, and all the particulate would be easy to filter out with some butter muslin if necessary. It tasted like...chicken. Liquid chicken. The bags were so good at holding in the aromas that I literally could not smell anything while the pot was in the oven, but as soon as I opened the bag it was like Chicken Soup Nirvana. Plus, b/c of the bags and the oven, there was no protein schmutz on the bottom of the stock pot, and all the bones and bits stayed in the bag to be thrown out.

Now I just need to figure out what to do with a couple of gallons of liquid gold. Where'd my matzo go?....

-B

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B. Thank you so much! I have had the same issues as you, and never was able to come up with a solution that satisfied me. I will be trying your method next time.


Brenda

I whistfully mentioned how I missed sushi. Truly horrified, she told me "you city folk eat the strangest things!", and offered me a freshly fried chitterling!

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Sounds interesting, I'll give it a try.

One thing I like to do to get richer stock is use roasted bones. I roast a whole chicken and roughly cut the meat off for a meal, leaving plenty of meat on the carcass. Roast the carcass at 350 or so with salt and pepper until it browns. I hit it with a broiler then for a couple minutes and use that as the base for stock with salt, pepper, onion, celery, carrot and a bit of dry bouquet garni.

Yields a very flavorful stock with somewhat darker color.

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This is enough to get me to try stock (instead of just broth), finally. I'm a frequent broth-maker, but I've always wanted to try stock.

Questions:

Leftover carcasses from other chicken projects can be frozen until stockmaking time, right?

If so, I'd like to dismantle the frames, since storage space in the freezer is not readily available these days. Should I do that at the joints, or can I just break up the bones wherever?

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Correct me if I am wrong but I thought that stocks were meant to have a rather neutral flavor, as to not interfere with whatever final application the stock goes through?

I like my grits or black beans to have some of the depth, umami and mouthfeel of stock, but I don't necessarily want it tasting like chicken.

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I suppose it depends on the application--chicken-y stock that was destined for soup or some other chicken dish would probably benefit from this method, but as you said maybe it wouldn't be the best thing for grits :blink:


Kate

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Correct me if I am wrong but I thought that stocks were meant to have a rather neutral flavor, as to not interfere with whatever final application the stock goes through?

I like my grits or black beans to have some of the depth, umami and mouthfeel of stock, but I don't necessarily want it tasting like chicken.

I think that there is no "right" right answer; it will all depend on application and context. A mostly bone stock will be different from a mostly meat stock, a stock intended as mostly a moistening ingredient (or "water++") will need different characteristics than one intended for a consumee, and the requirements for a small stock at home will differ from a universal stock in a restaurant kitchen's steam kettle. You're right, not everything that calls for chicken stock needs to taste formost like chicken, but it's a lot easier to start with the flavor and then pull back than it is to start without the flavor and then try to add it later (I suspect you could dilute this stock if necessary, or if you needed to retain the mouthfeel, you could simmer it for a little while before adding it, but intentionally driving off the Essence of Chicken makes the baby Jesus cry :biggrin: ).

-B

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what are 'baking bags'? ( :huh: .......Not familiar with them here in the UK)


“Do you not find that bacon, sausage, egg, chips, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and a cup of tea; is a meal in itself really?” Hovis Presley.

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what are 'baking bags'? ( :huh: .......Not familiar with them here in the UK)

The only brand of bags I know of, is made by Reynolds; they also make aluminum foil and similar items here in the US (and perhaps elsewhere?).

Here's the website.

To quote: "Reynolds® Oven Bags are heat-resistant nylon oven bags for cooking warm, hearty dinners without basting or tending."

To commit heresy: my family usually uses these to roast the Thanksgiving turkey, and despite the fact that to do so is to commit a sin against Gully, it actually turns out quite well.

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To commit heresy: my family usually uses these to roast the Thanksgiving turkey, and despite the fact that to do so is to commit a sin against Gully, it actually turns out quite well.

You're preaching to the choir. My mom has been using the bags for years and the turkey always turn out great.


“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

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Does anyone know whether these bags can be sealed with a FoodSaver? I'm thinking in terms of hedging bets against leakage.

MelissaH


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Does anyone know whether these bags can be sealed with a FoodSaver? I'm thinking in terms of hedging bets against leakage.

MelissaH

You can seal them on the "seal only" setting. Just don't try to suck the air out...

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Does anyone know whether these bags can be sealed with a FoodSaver? I'm thinking in terms of hedging bets against leakage.

MelissaH

You can seal them on the "seal only" setting. Just don't try to suck the air out...

Yup, that's what I had in mind. Thanks!


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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You can seal them on the "seal only" setting. Just don't try to suck the air out...

Use ice for your liquid-and push the seal button when you start to vacuum the air otherwise you may compromise the integrity of the bag (create leaks elsewhere).


Patrick Sheerin

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This is brilliant and I don't know why I never thought of this before. I floated the idea of stock Sous Vide before but people thought the small yield wouldn't make it worthwhile.

Once, when I cooked stock, I put strainer on top and pressed it down using a cast iron pot to keep the aromatics below the waterline. I filled the pot with some cold water to weight it down and only after I made stock did I realise that the water inside the pot came to 100C without boiling. In theory, you should be able to make a perfectly clear stock using this method because there's no agitation whatsoever in the inner pot. I've been meaning to experiment in that vein but never found the time to do a proper investigation.

Thanks for suggesting a much easier way of achieving the same thing.


PS: I am a guy.

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Does anyone know whether these bags can be sealed with a FoodSaver? I'm thinking in terms of hedging bets against leakage.

MelissaH

You can seal them on the "seal only" setting. Just don't try to suck the air out...

Actually you can't (at least the turkey roasting bags). The turkey roasting bags are made of BoPET (aka Mylar). The property that makes it perfect for a roasting bag (stability at high heat) also make it very hard to heat seal. When used in commercial food packaging, it's actually combined with polyethylene to make it sealable.

Of course, you can use the same process with actual sealable vacuum bags, should work the same way. If necessary, you can freeze the contents with the water, then vacu-seal it. But this does have a couple of problems:

-Vacuum bags are boiling rated but not oven rated, so you would have to be very careful about oven temp

-Since you have to seal it, you can't use the pre-boiled water method. This means you have to bring it up to temp in some other way, preferably a large boiling water bath. The contents have to be hot before you put it in the oven because a low oven would take forever to bring it up to temp (danger zone), a higher temp will compromise the bag either through melting (vacu-bag) or through gas expansion/steam pressure if you overshoot (both bags). If you do it in a water bath, you have to make sure that the bag is suspended off the bottom of the pot or the bag will melt (from contact with the metal w/o the water). Then once at temp, you would either have to put the entire water bath vessel + bag in the oven, or pull a now boiling multiple gallon bag out of the bath and into another container. Don't forget, vacu-bags are boiling rated but they also lose most of their structural integrity around that point (become "stretchy").

-For a fair amount of stock, it would get pretty expensive.

As far as the roasting bags go, I double bagged it, but I didn't notice any leaks. There were a couple of tablespoons of liquid in the stockpot when I pulled out the bags (did I mention how easy the cleanup was?), but it did not smell like stock and may have just been condensation of some sort. When emptying the stock, you just fold the bags over the rim of the stock pot and either ladle or pour out the stock; the bag is just the seal with the stockpot doing all the support. The only two things I can think of to be especially careful with are to make sure the oven doesn't go much over 200F (check with actual thermometer, not dial; >212F+water=steam, steam=pressure, pressure=bag that goes pop) and to be careful about sharp bones from the chicken or whatnot.

-B

(EDIT: It appears I may be mistaken on the makeup of the bag material. It looks like there may be both BoPET and Nylon roasting bags, but I don't know enough about polymer material sciences to say if BoPET may be a subset of Nylon and/or if they are using the word "Nylon" in a non-standard way. I'm still pretty sure, given their heat resistance, roasting bags of either sort won't be heat-sealable with a consumer sealer.)


Edited by bdevidal (log)

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In theory, you should be able to make a perfectly clear stock using this method because there's no agitation whatsoever in the inner pot. I've been meaning to experiment in that vein but never found the time to do a proper investigation.

Perfectly clear might be hard; what you gain in low agitation you loose somewhat in the lack of "scum" formation, which normally aids clarification. I would say my stock came out to "servicable clarity", with most of the turbidity from fine particulate matter and not from completely emulsified whatnot, and that was just through a corse sieve. Of course, there's nothing preventing one from doing a cold gelatin clarification on the product.

-B

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This is enough to get me to try stock (instead of just broth), finally.  I'm a frequent broth-maker, but I've always wanted to try stock.

Isn't chicken broth just chicken stock with herbs and flavourings added? I'm confused.


Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Broth is made with meat and stock is made with bones....most "stocks" made at home are usually hybrid...that is with varying rations of meat and bones. Generally speaking, a broth has more flavor of the product, while stock has more body.

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Broth is made with meat and stock is made with bones....most "stocks" made at home are usually hybrid...that is with varying rations of meat and bones. Generally speaking, a broth has more flavor of the product, while stock has more body.

Thanks! I learned to make stock using Fat Guy's course, and of course, he's using both meat and bones so that's what I always do!


Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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At work, we poach 5kg of chicken maryland's 5 times a week in a stock. The thing is we reuse this stock over and over again like a chinese masterstock. It's gone from a pale chicken stock to this incredibly intense, deep dark brown stock. It has so much flavour. It's like having 10 chickens in your mouth at once! It's at the point now where it's actually making the chicken sweeter once it's cooked. And it's solid when cold. We could cut it like a terrine! About 15 litres of stock. It's 6 months old...

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what are 'baking bags'? ( :huh: .......Not familiar with them here in the UK)

You can get them in most UK supermarkets, but we call them roasting bags.

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It's like having 10 chickens in your mouth at once!

Now there's a mental image that will be with me for some time!

Count me in for the "liquid gold test kitchen". I have a giant tray of fresh chicken fragments in the fridge, and a dozen frozen Meat Kings from the farm. Photos and comments to follow . . .


Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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