Thursday, March 25, 2010

Very Slow Cooked Chicken Stock

I was visiting friends recently who had some very fine chickens and eggs from Soul Food Farm in Vacaville, CA.  For dinner, they decided to make Thomas Keller's buttermilk fried chicken from the Ad Hoc cookbook which was entirely delicious.  The next day, the remaining chicken parts were used for stock... but not like any stock I've ever made.  This was done sloooow, over 5 or 6 hours, and at very low heat.  The result was an incredibly fragrant and intense stock that I knew I needed to do at home at first opportunity.

Here's how:

I preheated the oven to 190 degrees.  I know.  Crazytalk.

Using a small chicken from Whole Foods refrigerator case (sorry, I can't remember what kind it was), I removed the breasts, thighs and legs for another use.  I rinsed the remaining parts and placed it in a 5 quart dutch oven, covered it with water and placed it in the oven.

That's it.  No salt, no pepper, no vegetables or aromatics... yet.  Cook at this low heat for 4-5 hours.  I pulled out the pot every hour or so to see if it needed skimming.  There was very little to worry about.  Keeping it below a boiling temperature doesn't seem to create much froth.  

When I pulled it out after the first hour, hardly anything had happened and I wondered if I had the whole thing wrong but after after 4-5 hours, what I had was an super rich, deeply fragrant stock that was ready for the next step.  I added a carrot, broken in half, a head of garlic cut in half through the bulbs, the white part of a leek cut in half lengthwise, half of a yellow onion including the papery skins, a large pinch of salt, about a teaspoon of peppercorns, a bay leaf and a bundle of mixed herbs.  Back in the oven it went for another hour to hour and a half.

When I took it out for the final time, I had some froth that needed skimming but was too fine to catch with my skimmer so I ended up sending the final stock through a strainer with a paper towel inside it.  The taste was phenomenal.  I got maybe a third as much broth as I usually do from one chicken but it was so rich and delicious, I can't possibly complain.  

Now, you'd think that I'd have used it right away but I didn't.  It's in my freezer (about 2 quarts) waiting for the chance to shine.  I haven't decided yet what to make with it, but I'll let you know when I do.

Have suggestions?  The obvious choices are soup or risotto but I wonder if there is something more fun I'm not thinking of.  Gumbo?  


Celeste March 25, 2010 at 2:10 PM  

The Whole Foods on Severn almost always has bony parts (backs, necks, etc) in the back...if you ask, they'll sell you stock parts at a price way cheaper than whole chickens.

NOJuju March 25, 2010 at 2:14 PM  

I know. I asked at Magazine St and they told me that they were out that night but that usually have some. I'm definitely going to do that next time.

Lisa March 25, 2010 at 4:13 PM  

I do almost the same thing, but I make most of my stock in the crock pot. It never boils, it simmers at the perfect temperature for hours and it doesn't heat up the whole kitchen.

As for bones, I just save bones in the freezer until I have enough. With my travel schedule, rotisserie chicken from the deli is a frequent weekend meal - I fold up the skeleton once it's picked clean, wrap it tightly and freeze it. When I have a couple of bags of bones in the fridge, I make stock.

And I would go for risotto., ricey goodness.

Annie Bleecker March 26, 2010 at 7:42 AM  

I've been using my stock to cook quinoa with.

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