Concentrated chicken stock in your deep freeze can turn you into a kitchen magician. Chicken stock, good home-made chicken stock is pure alchemy. One can whip up a quick sauce to rival any French kitchen. Add it to a few vegetables and you have soup divine.
Our Bistro kitchen always had brown and white chicken stock, veal stock, vegetable stock, fish stock, shrimp stock, and beef stock. The traditional mother of the brown sauces, demi-glace that takes several days to accomplish was always reducing away on a back burner.
It may not be convenient to stock your deep freeze with ALL the stocks but one can easily have a good chicken stock, a beef stock, and a fish stock. When you make them yourself you can reduce and concentrate the flavour. Store them in plastic containers, labeled and dated. Some recipes suggest pouring them into ice cube trays. You all always use more stock than one or two cubes. Use half-cup or one cup plastic containers instead. Remember you have made beautiful, CONCENTRATED stock, so you can increase the volume by just adding addition liquid (water etc.)
This stock is so full of flavour and such a lovely golden brown it can almost stand alone. It makes fabulous French Onion Soup (see my recipe) or anything that doesn’t have to be pale in colour. If you don’t brown the bones you have white chicken stock. I reserve the white chicken stock for risottos and delicate cream sauces.
CHICKEN STOCK … BROWN … makes a lot
Around 4 pounds of chicken bones raw. Put these in a large roasting pan and sprinkle with a little salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast at around 350F until the bones turn a lovely shade of brown. Give them a shake once in a while. This could take around an hour or so.
Put the bones into your big stock pot and set aside. (this would be time to add the roast chicken carcasses your have been saving in your freezer)
Put water in the pan you roasted the bones in, and either simmer on the top of the stove, or put back in the oven. You want to be able to scrap up all the lovely brown bits. When you have scraped up as much as you can add this to the roasted chicken bones in your stock pot.
Now add water but be sure to leave enough room for the vegetables. Hey, you can always add additional water.
Coarsely chop up a couple of carrots and sticks of celery. Slice a little off the top off a head of garlic. Insert 4-5 cloves of garlic in a fat onion. Now add these vegetables to your stock pot. Sprinkle with around a tablespoon of peppercorns and a few stalks of parsley. If you have some fresh thyme add that too. Push the vegetables down AND THEN NEVER TOUCH THEM AGAIN. The secret to clear, beautiful rich chicken stock is to NEVER STIR IT ONCE IT STARTS BOILING.
Bring your stock to a raging boil, for about 2-3 minutes, then immediately drop the temperature to a soft, gentle, barely bubbling simmer. With the lid off let your stock simmer all day long. You want to reduce the liquid by a generous couple of inches.
Your chicken stock should look like this. The vegetables hunkered down on top of the stock. NEVER disturbed by stirring or poking.
Strain the chicken stock into containers and cool as quickly as possible. It is easier to remove the fat from the chicken stock when it is in small containers. Voila! You have fabulous stock.
MORE CHEFS NOTES: When your chicken stock has cooled it should be like wobbly jelly. If it isn’t you have not reduced it enough. Back into the stock pot with it and simmer at a higher heat to reduce your chicken stock. Here’s the deal. Why freeze water!
PURCHASED CHICKEN STOCK: For convenience or emergencies it is sometimes necessary to buy ready-made chicken stock. Which is the best? To find out put your stock into a sauce pan and reduce it down by more than 50 percent. If when it cools it is not jelly like avoid that brand.
Another test is to reduce purchased chicken stock to almost nothing. It should be a lovely thick glistening syrup. I have reduced packaged chicken stock that has simply just turned into powder.
For something as important as chicken stock you should have very high standards.
STORING CHICKEN STOCK; If you store your chicken stock in the refrigerator more than 2-3 days, always return the stock to the boil and simmer for around 5 minutes. Again, cool as quickly as possible and refrigerate. Here’s a restaurant tip. Fill a clean plastic bottle with water and freeze. Use this as an ice wand to quickly chill your stocks.