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Friday, March 12, 2010

Waste Not Want Not: chicken stock

I throw nothing away.  In fact, I am not allowed to have a deep freezer for that very reason.  It would get ugly.

I had leftover herb roasted chicken from a previous dinner.  After carving the remaining chicken off the bones, I took the carcass, several zip-lock freezer bags of chicken parts, carrots, onions, celery, and garlic  from the vegetable bin, and made stock.

I wanted chicken noodle soup.  I wanted a good chicken noodle soup.  

After putting the chicken bones, vegetables, parsely stems, bay leaves, and Tellicherry peppercorns into a stock pot, I covered it with cold water, brought it to a boil, reduced it to a simmer, skimmed the scum, and let it simmer for 4 hours. I strained it through cheesecloth and a strainer, plunged it into an ice bath to cool rapidly, chilled it to remove the fat, and was done.  Kind of.

I  wanted a clarified stock.  Clear Stock.  Consomme.  That required a raft.  After stock is cooled and de-greased, a raft can be used to take out any remaining impurities that can cloud a stock.  The de-natured proteins in the raft attract cooked proteins into it, clarifying it.

A raft can be intimidating, scary, and ugly.  When going to the trouble of making stock, it seemed ridiculous to do-to-it-what-you-have-to-do-it to make it clear.

Raft: Choose whatever ground protein the stock is made of; beef, chicken, pork or fish.   Mix it with egg whites, crushed egg shells, mirepoix for additional flavor, and stir it into the cooled stock.  Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce it a simmer, don't stir, and let it simmer away for 45 minutes.  It is ugly.  The proteins in the egg whites, egg shells, and ground meat absorb the remanining fat and impurities that linger in a stock base.  When the raft coagulates and floats to the top, poke a hole in the middle to create a chimney allowing steam to escape.  When it sinks  to the bottom, it is done.  Don't disturb the raft.  Carefully remove the clarified stock from the pot,  discard the raft, and let the stock cool.

It should be clear enough to read a dime placed in the bottom of a bowl.

Clarified stock is a beautiful thing.  Gorgeous aspics and galantines are made with it.

I wanted it for chicken noodle soup.

 A consomme or clear stock is usually garnished with  ingredients at the end of cooking.  That seemed a little too precious for my rustic nature, so I just combined everything to simmer and blend. Although the clear purity  faded when all the soup ingredients were added, most importantly, the  flavor remained.  Deep, rich,and aromatic.

It was only chicken noodle soup.  Good stock, good clarified stock elevated it.
Herb roasted chicken, carrots, turnips, parsnips, onions, celery, leeks, and macaroni noodles, suspended in this unctious stock.  Fresh grassy parsley to finish.

A dime's worth of trouble was worth the effort..

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