Monday, December 28, 2009

The Stock Market

There is a new way to separate you from your money and lessen the quality of your life, and that is the new stock in a box appearing in your food market. Better than the instant bouillon cube which is no more than salt in foil, the new box is an apparent step up from Swanson's broth in a can. These products allow you to fool yourself into believing they are as good as homemade. They aren't.
I am old school and still believe that the simpler my food the better. For me nothing beats a golden broth consommé with maybe a tiny bit of veg floating on the surface. Nobody made it better than Jean Louis Palladin and when I asked him how it was that his was so much better than the competition he produced a tiny brown bottle. "My mother sends me this essence of burnt onion juice." he told me. "A few drops will flavor a quart of stock."

You can do this; make your own stock, and it is virtually free. Every time you peel and trim an onion, toss those peels and ends in the plastic bag you have ready in the freezer. So too the carrot peels, the lettuce trim, the fennel bottoms, the parsley stems, and the wing tips and back bones or whole carcass from your chicken. It is also a great idea to crush egg shells and save them in the bag. When making the stock the shells will form what is called a raft which will capture the scum on the surface.

(a parsley trick: trim off the stems, rinse the leafy bunch in water, place one or more bunches in your blender, pour in a cup or two of water, pulse. Strain the now green water (add to stock), place the now finely chopped parsley in a freezer bag, flatten, freeze, break off what you need when you need it.)

Brown the onion and chicken parts in the bottom of a stock pot, add quarts of water, a bay leaf or two, other herb, a clove, some pepper. Don't add salt yet. When you make your final soup you will be able to judge how much salt to add to taste. Bring to slow boil, reduce heat to simmer, forget it for an hour or more. Remove raft with a slotted spoon or simply pour stock through a strainer and save. Purists will want to remove the fat from the surface once it chills and sets. You can refine the stock more by straining again through a paper towel or simply leave the last inch of stock on the bottom of the pot where the unstrained solids will have collected. Store stock in pint or quart containers and freeze till needed.

To get the chicken parts for the stock will require a very sharp knife. I hope you got a sharpener for Christmas. If not get one. You can spend more money but this one does a great job.

Start with a good knife, you will need three in your life, a boning, a paring, an 8inch chef's.

This video will show you the basics of how to bone a chicken.

You could stop short of the whole boning process by just removing the wing tips, cutting out the back on two sides, and using these bones for stock. Or by making a small incision at the wish bone, inserting your fingers and pulling the breast away, you can bone the breast out of the chicken without a knife. The thighs will break off with a twist and tear. Another trick is to turn the separated leg over, skin side down and notice there is a whitish line where the thigh and drum might meet. It is exactly where they meet and if you slice atop that line you will separate them perfectly. Most of the time you will want to keep the bones within the legs and thighs for your recipes.
A starter soup might have you poach (20 minutes will do) the large pieces of chicken as you make the stock, and remove them to cool. Cook off some rice or noodles, dice a carrot, get a cup of frozen peas, shred some chicken. Place all in a pot, add stock, a bit of white wine, simmer, add a pinch of nutmeg, sprinkle with grated parmesan. Ahhhhh.

1 comment:

  1. i did in fact get the chef's choice 120 for christmas, the one that does serrated blades. it's way cool.