Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fun Stock

About a week ago, stocks dropped about a thousand points and then jumped back up by five hundred in the course of five minutes. I wish I could get that much stock action going in a short period of time. The kind I make takes hours and only drops by about a quarter of it's original volume when all is said and done. Homemade stock is awesome though so it's all worth it. Fun cooks should always make sure to save their leftover bones to make stock out of. It is easily five times as good as canned broth. Easily. And it's easy to make. There is no real recipe just a procedure.

First step is to collect bones and keep them in bags in your freezer. Once you have enough to fill about half of your largest pot, throw them in there, no need to thaw first:

I do it in a 12 quart kettle. In the interest of full disclosure, it is not my largest pot but unless a lot of you are into canning or homebrewing it is probably somewhat larger than your largest pot. Make do w/ what you got. There are economies of scale timewise w/ larger batches so that is what I prefer.

My bones are most chicken bones but I normally wind up w/ a few pork rib bones, t-bones, &c. They all work. It is helpful to have at least some uncooked chicken bones because they provide a lot of collagen which helps make the stock thick. Bear in mind that the method of cooking you use will affect the flavor. I normally throw on a chicken whenever I break out the smoker so my stock winds up w/ a smokey flavor which I love but some people might not like. You really don't wanna get too much skin and fat in there. You want a mild meaty flavor but greasy broth is kinda gross. Also, don't salt your broth. Salt the final dish. You will have more control that way.

Cover your bones w/ water and throw in an onion or two, a couple big carrots and some bay leaves:

Cover and turn that burner on all the way up. If you have a big pot, it can take quite a while for it to get to boiling, at which point, turn it down to a simmer. I simmer mine uncovered to allow extra water to evaporate off. Top it off again if it gets to low. I like a more concetrated stock as my freezer has only limited space. You gotta cook this business about three hours, longer if you have time, and when it's done the carcasses should be falling completely apart.

OK, now is the crappy part which also happens to be the hardest part and the part I forgot to take pictures of. You need another pot that is at least about half the size as the pot you made the stock in. Then you need a colander. Put the colander in the small pot and pour the stock from the large pot into the colander. This is how you separate the bones from he stock. You will wind up w/ something like this:

Take this junk and put it in small containers and freeze the heck out of it. It will keep for longer than you can possibly hope to keep it around. Once you start using homemade stock in your soups and stews you'll never want to use a crummy can of broth again. (Of course, if you are like me, you still will out of necessity.) There are variety of ways to clarify the stock and get the excess crud out of there. I say the crud builds character so I leave it in.

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