Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lessons Learned From Making Stock

I have a pretty extensive list of things I want to make.  Little items that I think I should know how to make.  Whenever I have the opportunity to cross one of these things off of this list (which grows by the day) I get pretty excited.  So you can imagine my extreme pleasure when, the other morning, still basking in the glow of post holiday bliss, I had my first opportunity to make poultry stock.  

In the simplest terms I can muster, stocks are the rendering of flavor from the slow simmering of vegetables in water, or, more commonly, animal "remains" in water with the addition of vegetables and herbs.  The result is a lightly flavored broth, as cloudless as possible.  That word "remains" is a pretty ominous one huh?  Basically it is the bones of the animal, and often the innards that most don't normally eat.  These are all set to simmer in water to extract their natural flavors.  

Now the sheer beauty of stocks are their versatility.  Stock can be used as the base of soups and stews, it can be used to deglaze a pan of it's drippings, it can be used as a light flavoring when making rice or quinoa in place of water.  Stock is one of those ingredients I cannot live without, but I have always just bought from the store.  I have felt ashamed of this fact for years.  However, after this weekend's adventure I now have a good amount of stock in my freezer, ready to use.

I learned several things during my experience.  The first- when making poultry stock- if you want a brown stock, roast the bones.  If not-just throw them in the pot.  Second, I found that butchering down a full carcass is NOT as easy as they make it look on TV- at least not for me.  It took me a fair amount of time, and some very sore shoulders at the end.  Finally, I found that fussing over the pot while the stock simmers is NOT a good idea.  I wasted a lot of time fussing over the temperature of the water concerned that it would boil and I'd have a huge mess.  Stock is easy to make- remember that and you'll be golden.

I followed Julia Child's instruction for poultry stock.  Though I wont write out the full instructions here, they were pretty straightforward.  Place the bones into a large pot, cover with water until there is about 2 inches over the bones.  Simmer until any sludge from the bones rises to the top and you have been able to skim off.  Then add carrots, onions, celery and herbs and simmer slowly for 5-6 hours.  Once I finally walked away from the stock and sat in the living room, it all moved a long without much issue.  

Stock is now my friend, however I think I will leave the idea of butchering a carcass to the professionals- and just go with smaller bone masses. 


Kathy said...

I love making my own stock. The control makes it so much better (I find premade to be too salty most of the time). My mom works on a farm and always takes the bones from chicken slaughter and makes mad pots of stock, which she shares. Frankly I find it to be a great job perk ;)

The Small Boston Kitchen said...

Love stock...good for you for giving it a go! Nothing compares to homemade!

Delicious Dishings said...

I made chicken broth recently... and will be posting about it soon. Very similar to what you did! And I'm the same way... I usually buy broth and stock. I discovered it's pretty easy to make but time-consuming.

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