Thursday, October 12, 2006

liquid gold

1 new shiny meat cleaver + 6 discarded chicken backs = liquid gold

Why didn't anyone tell me how enjoyable it is to wield a meat cleaver? At first, I was timid and it took a few chops to make it through the bone. But then I moved my hand farther back on the handle and extended my swing and... BOOM goes the dynamite! I could chop all day. Unfortunately, my plastic cutting mat wasn't up to the challenge - see exhibit A.

exhibit A

I specifically bought the cleaver so I could make chicken stock. I'm as lazy as the next cook, so I usually use canned chicken broth. But it's not available in here, or at least I haven't found any yet. Apparently everyone here uses instant bouillon. I admit that canned chicken broth is not great, but bouillon? Perhaps I'm being a food snob, but isn't instant bouillon just chicken-flavored chemical-ridden salt dust? Perhaps you're asking the same questions I ask myself every time I make a soup, stew, or sauce:

  • Has canned chicken broth not yet crossed the Atlantic?
  • Or do people here simply prefer instant bouillon to stock?
  • Or do they not cook things that require stock?

I've resolved to end my year of cooking with instant bouillon and make my own chicken stock. This journey began by saving and freezing the backs of each Chicken Marbella chicken I cut up. Six short weeks later my freezer was full and I was ready to attempt alchemy. No drama here - it was easy, quick, and tasty. I used half of it to make chicken noodle soup (I even made my own noodles - woohoo for me). Then I froze 1/4 cup portions in muffin tins so I can defrost only as much as I need. Now I'm all ready for cold weather cooking. I just need a bigger freezer.

solid gold ... chicken noodle soup

Some helpful distinctions:

  • stock - made with more bones than meat, which results in a fuller body than broth. Best for sauces.
  • demi-glace - stock than has been drastically reduced (10-15% of original volume). Good for gravies and sauces.
  • broth - made with more meat than bones, resulting in a fresher flavor but less body than stock. Ideal for soups.
Quick Homemade Chicken Stock from Cook's Illustrated
This stock can be refrigerated in airtight containers for up to 4 days or frozen for 4 to 6 months. Makes about 2 quarts

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion , chopped medium
4 pounds whole chicken legs or backs and wingtips, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 quarts water (boiling)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 bay leaves

1. Heat oil in large stockpot over medium-high heat until shimmering; add onion and cook until slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer onion to large bowl. Brown chicken in two batches, cooking on each side until lightly browned, about 5 minutes per side; transfer to bowl with onions. Transfer cooked chicken to bowl with onion. Return onion and chicken to pot. Reduce heat to low, cover, and sweat until chicken releases its juices, about 20 minutes. Increase heat to high; add boiling water, salt, and bay leaves. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low; cover and simmer slowly until stock is rich and flavorful, about 20 minutes, skimming foam off surface, if desired.

2. Strain broth and discard solids. Before using, defat stock. After stock has been refrigerated, the fat hardens on the surface and is very easy to remove with a spoon. To defat hot stock, we recommend using a ladle or fat separator.

1 comment:

Astrid said...

I agree, it's crazy that neither here nor in France (that I know of) can you find decent ready-made broth. In the US I used to buy concentrated frozen broth to which you add water. Bouillon cubes are gross.
Still, after boast-posting a long time ago about making my own stock, I have sadly never done it again. But then, I don't have such a dangerous and fun cleaver as you do!

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