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Chicken Stock (again)


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  Okay, there have been several threads on eGullet on

  how to make chicken stock.


  I'm still in doubt on several points.


  So, suppose I get some fresh whole chickens, remove

  and refrigerate the breast meat, and make a stock of

  the rest (not including the liver).


  Now I will have a lot of cooked meat, skin, bones,



  Seven questions:


  First, suppose I separate the meat and, for the

  rest, either discard it or make more stock with it.


  Now, what do I do with the meat?


  Should I (A) just discard it saying that its flavor

  got cooked out during the stock making or (B) use it

  as the meat in chicken soup, chicken noodle

  casserole, chicken croquettes, chicken salad

  sandwiches, or chicken filled dumplings?


  Second, for the stock, to get more flavor, should I

  (A) reduce it or (B) just start a second stock

  effort using the stock from the first effort as the

  liquid instead of water?


  Third, if I want the stock clear, should I (A) just

  be very, very careful to skim the stock early in the

  simmering, never, never let it boil, and carefully

  chill it overnight to let the fat come to the top

  and some sediment sink to the bottom and carefully

  remove both, or (B) forget about skimming and

  avoiding boiling, do remove the fat by chilling, but

  then just clarify the rest by straining through

  wire, cloth, and paper coffee filters, and beating

  in egg whites, simmering 30 minutes, and straining

  through wire, cloth, and paper coffee filters again?


  That is, can delicate simmering in (A) really yield

  a stock that is both clear and well flavored or are

  the clarity and flavor of the more violent simmering

  and then separate clarification of (B) really as

  good as anything from (A)?


  Fourth, for the skimming, is it really true that if

  I cut the raw chicken into pieces and saute them

  lightly until the red is gone to 'denature' the

  proteins, then I won't have to skim the stock? Does

  this really work well in all respects?


  Fifth, does making stock starting just by putting

  raw chickens in cold water and proceeding with the

  simmering, etc., really work fully well? Or, is it

  really better to start with chicken already cooked

  by sauteing as in the fourth question or by



  Sixth, for the chicken, how much difference is there

  from what chicken I start with? That is, is it okay

  just to start with 'commodity' broilers or fryers?

  Is it noticeably better to start with 'organic' or

  'free range' broilers or fryers? What about

  starting with a roasting chicken? What about

  starting with a stewing chicken? What is done

  commercially: Do they try to use spent laying hens?


  Seventh, for the breast meat, should I consider

  using it in chicken soup? If so, how do I include

  it? If I just cut the meat into nice chunks and put

  it in the stock (or stock converted with shallots,

  reduced white wine, white roux) with, say, onions,

  carrots, mushrooms, parsley, and noodles, once the

  meat heats, it will throw off scum and make the soup

  less good?

What would be the right food and wine to go with

R. Strauss's 'Ein Heldenleben'?

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Seems to me you've laid out the flow chart, wouldn't experimentation on your part--and tasting the results to assess the differences--give you most of your answers? I think the Nike ad campaign is relevant here--just do it--in fact, do it every day until you make it through list. Best way to resolve doubt. Plus, chicken is cheap, even free range chicken. You've fixated on an affordable subject.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo


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They say "old birds make good soup".

Don't violently boil the stock. Do skim. Refrigerate to remove fat, then reduce. Start with raw bones (rinse them). Take off all the raw meat. To get a nice flavor poach the meat in the reduced stock and season after removing; this way the meat won't be overcooked but the flavor will still be transfered to the stock. By seasoning afterwards, you don't salt the stock. If just making stock, or soup, use old fowl. Otherwise use the bones from whatever chicken you want to eat.

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Klc, If memory serves, the Zuni Cafe has a novel approach to stock making. Unfortunately, my memory can't serve up what that approach is. Can you help?

My post is based on my method, and my method was taught to me by chef, who, in turn, learned it from his chef, and so on. A lot of my food knowledge is like that (as is yours, I'm sure). That's one of the reasons I hang out on this board (and read thousands of cookbooks and magazines). I (we) so often don't have time to experiment with other approaches, and so much of our knowledge is handed-down (it really is a medieval profession) that what we assume is the "right" way is really only one way. A germaine example is pho. A Vietnamese cook told a friend of mine that the oxtails were added to violently boiling water, and boiled hard for hours. This goes against all the rules, but pho is one of the worlds great foods, so who knows from rules?

Speaking of medieval, I want someone to start a "Cook's Guild". Where have all the guilds gone?

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To add a couple of points to Schaems good advice: once you have your first stock, you can add more bones etc. and cook it again (reducing as it cooks), to give more flavor. This combines the two steps into one.

If you brown the bones etc. first, you will get more flavor and, yes, less bits of protein floating about. But you will also have a darker-colored stock. I prefer that, but then I don't ever do consommé. Just cooking the chicken parts until they are no longer red will not do very much for the flavor; nor, I think, will it make much difference to clarity (I could be wrong on that point, though).

For clarity: yes, rinse the bones before you use them. Start everything in cold water. Never let it boil. Skim, skim, skim. And even if you skim, do the chill-to-solidify-the-fat routine.

Escoffier has a zillion garnishes for consommé. You don't have to look them up. The point there is that you make your garnish (e.g., your diced cooked chicken breast), put it in the soup plate, and add the hot soup. No worry about more nasty bits floating in the soup that way. :smile:

If you can get hens ("stewing chicken"), DO, and use the meat to flavor the stock. You might even have some flavor left afterwards so that you CAN use the meat. What you do with the meat is up to you -- just taste it to make sure it's still worth using.

Every restaurant I've ever worked in just used trimmings and carcasses, bought by the case. Never whole chix or chix parts -- just the backs, necks, and other bones. But then I never cooked for Jean-Georges (I've got one of his recipes that uses a couple of roast chickens just for the sauce :shock: ).

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speaking of escoffier...

i believe i read at one time that he pretty much took nothing for granted about what had been "handed down." he questioned everything, threw out his notes and started from scratch! stocks in that regard would probably have been one of the first things he started with from ground zero!

project, your asking all the right questions and i believe klc is pointing you in the right direction...

if you go through the motions of all the questions you posed, you will then be the egullet chix stock authority! having said that, don't think too much. make it different each time just to see what happens. you'll probably find that for different applications, different methods are required. ie, if your making a stock to be used in a lentil soup, you'll want a light stlye stock. if your making a consumme you'll want a rich broth which will require browning the bones and considerable reducing...

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