Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Crackling stock


Shalmanese
 Share

Recommended Posts

I bought 2 gigantic packages of chicken thighs yesterday and in the process of seperating them into individual portions, I ended up with a giant portion of trimmed off fat and skin. Not wanting to see them go to waste, I decided on a little experiment.

I set all of the fat plus a couple of spare bones I had lying around to render out until they got crisp and brown, to the stage I would normally get them to if I were making cracklings. Then, I added a whole bunch of onions, garlic and carrots directly to the hot oil and let that cook until it got browned and caramelised. Added water directly to the pan and let it simmer for 3 hours. Let it chill, took off the fat cap and underneath was an amazingly flavourful, well gelled, brown stock. It had a nice rich, roast chicken flavour and was wonderfully sweet from the caramelised vegtables. I wouldn't use it for a soup but it would work great in a gravy. The only difference is that next time, i would skim off some of the fat before letting it chill as it was hard to break through a fatcap that thick.

I don't know about you but I seem to find myself with excess fat trimings far more often that excess bones and I previously didn't have much of a clue what to do with them. This seems like a really quick and easy way to make something useful out of them. The best part is you can just toss any bones you have in with the fat and it will brown up right next to them. Personally, I prefer cooking the stock with the huge fatcap on top as I suspect some of the flavour from the fat gets transferred into the stock but I might be wrong and it might be easier to drain all the fat out first and then cook it like a normal stock.

I assume this works as well for beef as it does for chicken.

PS: I am a guy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Fat equals Flavor" is one of the oldest truths in cooking. I always throw my skin/fat into the stock. As you say, you have to let it chill first and remove the fat cap, but it's a great way to boost the flavor of the final product.

I'd be careful about using beef fat, I've gotten some "off" flavors from it in the past that I've never had with chicken.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 8 months later...

I just want to bump this up again after making my second batch of crackling stock and becoming a complete convert. It's by far the simplest method I've yet discovered to making stock and yields a rich, concentrated brown stock with amazing depth, complexity and sweetness.

You avoid the conventional roasting process because the fat browns the bones and the frying of the vegetables leads to a lovely sweet vegetal note which you don't get from a classic brown stock. You use so little water in the process that you don't have to bother reducing after straining which was always an annoying extra step for me. The stock comes out well gelled and ready to freeze.

Here's my refined procedure:

Trim the fat and bones from chicken thighs/drumsticks and dice the fat into less than 1" by 1" pieces.

Toss the entire pile of fat and bones into a saucepan with 1/4 cup of water and set on high heat.

Stir occasionally until the fat starts rendering out and the water evaporates.

Lower the head to medium and keep cooking until the bubbles become foamy, this means all the water has been rendered out and your chicken is as brown as it's going to get without being burnt.

Add in roughly chopped onion, celery, carrots and whole, unpeeled cloves of garlic and cook until there's slight browning to all the vegetables.

Add just enough water to cover, bayleaves and any dried or fresh herbs you have lying around, then simmer for 2 hours.

Spoon off the top layer of fat and discard or use in future cooking.

Strain, chill, peel off the fat cap.

At this point, the stock is gelled enough you can cut it into cubes with a knife, place on a baking sheet and freeze.

Once frozen, store them in a ziplock bag and use as desired.

The entire process takes less than 3 hours as opposed to a better part of the day for a conventional stock and is easily scaled up to however much you want.

Now I'm trying to figure out a soup that would help show off the stock. Something robust and hearty enough to stand up to the chicken flavour. Any suggestions?

PS: I am a guy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This sounds delicious. What are the relative quantities you're working with here? Is it like a traditional chicken stock, or are you using a higher proportion of meat products or what...?

For a soup I'm tempted to suggest something like, lentils and chunks of kabocha squash, or something else dense and starchy that'll soak up the stock nicely.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I probably use a 2:1 ratio of vegetables to meat, pre cooking weight. Skin tends to be much more flavourful than bones weight for weight so you can get away with such a heavy vegetable proportion without it feeling unbalanced (think of how much flavor is in the skin compared to the meat of a grilled chicken breast). I also toss in more garlic than a normal stock and make sure I cook it long enough so that the garlic gets nice and soft to get a mellow, roasted garlic note through the stock.

At the moment, I'm leaning towards a fiery tortilla soup with the tortillas fried in chicken fat although I do have some lentils in the pantry...

PS: I am a guy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

stupid question. I'm not sure I'm following exactly how you process the skin. Are you using it fresh from the uncooked chicken? Raw? Fried? I must sound like an idiot, but I'm not sure.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The only chicken stocks I've ever made are from the carcass and skin of a roasted bird. After eating the roast chicken, and saving some meat for the soup, I throw the entire thing in a stock pot along with celery, carrots, onion, garlic, bay leaf, S&P, then simmer for 2 hours. Strain it all and that's my stock. I've never made one from a raw bird. Am I weird? My stocks taste fab this way.

Also, I make beef stock by boiling beef bones from the butcher same way. But I've heard other people roast their beef bones in the oven first. Is there a taste difference doing it that way?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Shalmanese,

This is an inspired idea. It seems like the perfect base for a consomme but, you may have to work on clarity.

I have decided to try a variation on your method.

I doubled the volume and used a dutch oven that fit my needs.

I cheated by using stock instead of water.

My base was three big turkey wings, aromatics and herbs.

I was dealing with much less fat than you had but that was not a problem.

I brought the stock to a simmer and skimmed for a while - clarity!

I placed the dutch oven, covered into a 210 degree oven.

I should have results in about 6 hours. I may do a second run.

Thank you for the ideas.

Tim

Edited by tim (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 months later...
Very clever idea Shalmanese... But my main problem would be keeping myself from devouring the cracklings before the water ever made it to the pan!

Cracklings (grivenes) are the greatest invention of Jewish cooks (and probably most others). Pure addiction. I fear added veggies might distract from the unadulterated goodness, but I'm willing to try.

There's a very short window between when grivenes are perfect and when they're scorched and inedible. Also, they keep cooking after you remove them from the fat. My paternal grandmother was a dreadful cook, but she had the gift of picking the moment of grivene perfection.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm wondering if "frying" the bones in the fat actually hinders the process of exuding all the collagen out of it. I watched a "good eats" episode where Alton explains that boiling at too high of a temperature binds the collagen in the bone and prevents it from seeping out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...