I can’t tell you how many times, as a boy, I accompanied my father to a restaurant he was cooking for, in the wee hours of the morning and, after donning jackets and aprons, and checking the inventory lists, the first job of the day was to start making stocks.
Chicken and beef trimmings, carcasses, and bones, leftover from prep done by the staff earlier, would get dumped into giant kettles on the back of the 6-burner.
Into each would go 5 gallons of water, a few handfuls of salt, herbs and spices, and another bucket of veggie trimming, likewise from prep earlier in the day, maybe a couple of peeled onions and a head of celery…a few healthy knobs of butter and each stock was brought to a boil and left to simmer for a few hours before the dinner rush began.
Stock is the super-glue that hold the kitchen together. Mashed potatoes too thick? Ladle in some stock…those chicken breasts starting to look a little dry under the hot lights of the pass-thru? Squirt a little broth on ’em. Want to toss that cooked pasta in something to add a little zip? You guessed it…
The bubbling caldrons of meaty nectar were also the base for all soups, stews, gravies, and sauces. Much like a good sourdough, it was a constantly evolving flavor as it was ladled out, and refilled through-out the night.
Now, it’s likely that you’re seldom confronted with a cooking situation requiring 10 gallons of hot chicken stock, but a gallon batch will usually cover any need you may have tonight, as well as several future dishes.
Step 1 -Prep the skin, bones and left over meat for the stock pot. For a gallon of water, you’ll want 1 whole chicken carcass + skin (store-bought rotisserie chicken’s are great for this!) or the equivalent. If you bone out your own baked chicken (you watched the video, right?) you’re ready to go!
Step 2 -Prep/gather the veggies you’ll be using. Whole veggies and/or peels & ends (onions, carrots, potatoes, celery, mushroom stems, cabbage, etc.) A lot of times, if I know I’ll be making stock later in the week, I’ll keep a gallon baggie in the fridge for saving trimmings during the week. Just wash everything well, and chop it all coarse, as you’ll be straining out all the solids anyway. I like to split a couple of head of garlic, and maybe a chuck of ginger through the middle and toss it in too.
Stems and extra pieces from chopped herbs like basil, parsley, oregano, etc…are very nice in the stockpot, too. This is how you go “nose-to-tail” with your veggies!
Step 3 – Add all to a stock pot over med-high heat (I tossed a couple of lemon-rinds, and some asparagus stems in as well), cover with water, and season with salt & pepper to taste. Bring to stock just to a boil, then lower heat and simmer at least 1 hour.
To help your stock stay clear, and grit-free, use a large wooden spoon to skim off any foam that gathers on top.
Step 4 – Once stock has simmered at least an hour (2-3 are better) ladle out solids and toss. Then pour the stock through a fine sieve or cheese cloth to clear.
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Step 5 – Return to heat and low simmer another 1-3 hours to reduce volume, and intensify flavors.
So…you need two cups of chicken stock for that hautemealz.com recipe tonight, but you’ll lookin’ at a gallon of the stuff steamin’ on the stove…now what do you do with it?
Here’s what I do…
Pick up a couple of cheap plastic ice cube trays, and use a sharpie to write “BROTH” or “STOCK” on both sides (you don’t ever want to make ice in these again…trust me!) Allow your broth to cool completely, skim off any skin or fat from the top*, and ladle your stock into the ice-cube trays. Freeze, and then pop your “stock cubes” into a zippie bag for easy access later.
Next time you need some stock…a few seconds in the microwave, and you’ll be ready to cook!
*If you’re really watching those fat grams, chill that pot of stock overnight, and remove all of the hardened fat that gathers on the top. You’ll lose a little flavor, but you’ll be able to look your doctor in the eye!
Any questions? Post ’em below!