Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Taking Stock, part deux

I hope you enjoy the titles of my posts as much as I do. They are chosen because they make me smirk; really hope you get a smile or two out of this blog.

On to the chicken carcass that was chillin' in my fridge on Saturday.

There are actual stock recipes. If you google stock, or check out your favorite how-to cookbook (mine being my old Joy of Cooking), you are bound to find several. They usually call for vegetable scraps or fresh veggies or a bouquet garni of some sort to help flavor the stock. They'll call for a specific amount of bone/carcass to water/veggies. The first time I attempted stock, I found this very helpful. But here's the thing, people have been drawing nutrients for stock for a long time, and did so without recipes.

Basically, what I've taken from the recipes is :
- older chickens tend to have more flavor
- the carcass needs to be completely covered (with usually an inch or so to spare) with water
- veggies can be used to flavor
- you do need to bring it to a boil
- you need to simmer for at least an hour or two
- lid should be set on the pot, slightly ajar, for majority of simmering time
- and skimming the scum is very helpful.

What this means is that my process for stock making is generally:
- place carcass in stock and cover with water
- set to boil
- let boil for a while, check on it
- reduce heat to simmer
- set lid on pot, slightly ajar
- check on it
- go away, read a book, watch some tv
- check on it
- skim the stock
- repeat
When the liquid has reduced (and if I don't feel like adding more), and has gained a color resembling stock, I remove it from the stove. Then, I take out the bones (and anything that was added, like onion or bouquet garni), and divide the stock amongst my storage containers. Washed pasta sauce jars work very nicely. Let it all cool on the counter, and then stick in your fridge. Be sure to rotate any stock still in your fridge to the "top," or where ever you will be able to use it before the new stock.

Because I generally don't add veggies to my stock as it simmers (because I don't often have them on hand), in all honesty, my stock is rather bland. I can see the fat in it, though, and it is more flavorful than plain water.

In case you are curious at all, here are some photos of my freezer:
1. See the tower of stock containers, a bag of frozen veggies, and to the right, the larger containers of soup
2. The plastic bag is wrapped around an old pasta sauce jar of new stock, as a precaution, in reality, this is sitting in front of the tower of stock. The lime sherbert container is actually soup. You can also see my ice trays and DIY ice bucket.

Making your own stock is a relatively easy process that requires very little attention on your part, once the pot is simmering. Have you made your own stock before? Do you do it on a regular basis? If so, do you follow a recipe or add flavoring to it? If not, feel like giving it a go?


Margaret said...

I'm interested in your poll requesting views on how you would drive 1400 miles on a business trip. I'm sure it's a cultural thing and I know we have, comparatively, better public transport in the UK but there is no way I would drive 1400 miles in the first place. How would you do this trip if you couldn't drive it at all, like my brother who has epilepsy or my other brother who has chosen not to learn (both in their 40's)? If I had to do this trip I would choose the train firstly and then coach or bus. I can and do drive but only locally. 15 miles to work (when I don't have a broken leg) at night (no public transport then) but a bus in the daytime or going to see my equally rural friends.

Your poll needs some more options!

swiggett said...

Margaret - I've done similar trips in the past, and have flown/used ground transport. For this trip, I am basically making a circuit of three colleges/universities. I'm driving because all of the legs by themselves (3 or 6 hours) are not bad to drive. It is also spread out over several days. No chugging coffee or No Doz to stay awake.

If I didn't drive, this trip probably wouldn't be made. It is essentially taking advantage connections I have at my alma mater and other places to recruit for our summer program. I suppose that I could fly to each of these places (except one is a good 50 miles from the nearest major city), but it is more cost effective for the university to have me drive.

I'm going to have to re-work my poll. Thanks for the input!

Cam said...

My friend Christina will do something like your multi-legged trip. She flies into Chicago then rents a car and drives to city 1 then 2 then 3 and flies out from there. Not sure that comment really helped you...

I'd rent to protect your car from wear and tear.

Cam said...

I've made stock, sans veggies. I usually store it in tupperware. I'll also put some of it in the ice cube tray for easy use later.

I like your idea about using the sauce jar.