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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chicken Broth Success

This Sunday I made chicken broth. It's something I always feel I should do, but it takes a little planning and a fair amount of time. (OK, I know most of the time is passive, but you do need to stick around while it simmers on the stove.) When I took Back to Basics at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, we had a whole class on stocks and soups. The instructor extolled the virtues and superiority of homemade stock, as do many a cookbook author and chef. So maybe that's why I'm feeling so pleased with myself. That and the fact that an earlier attempt yielded a watery, flavorless result.

I'm sure there are many out there who are thinking, "What's the big deal? I always make my own stock!" Well, to you I say, "I'm not worthy!" Especially after the last time I tried, I was feeling kind of apprehensive and unsure. If I can't make a good chicken broth, what kind of cook am I? But I dutifully continued to save chicken bones and organs in my freezer. I was starting to run out of room and this weekend I found myself sticking around, so it seemed like the time to try again. I used the instructions from CSCA.

Like the last time, I roasted the bones in the oven, probably the equivalent of two whole chickens. I think I did them at 350 degrees for about an hour. Roasting is supposed to bring out the flavor more. (I think I threw the organs in with them last time, but this time I set them aside during the roasting.) And, like the last time, I barely covered the bones with cold water. But this time I noticed the instructions said to 'Bring to a simmer slowly." I think this is the key. Last time I brought it to a boil over high heat and then turned it down. This time, I put the heat on low and patiently waited for it to come to a simmer, which took about 1 hour. Once simmering, I added a chopped onion (I used a red one I had on hand), two small thickly sliced carrots, and two large celery stalks, chopped roughly. I didn't add salt so that I'd start with a clean slate when using it for cooking and add the salt at that time. I simmered the broth for another couple of hours, then added Bouque Garni (parsley stems, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf) and simmered another hour. After I let it cool down, I discovered the bowl of organs in the fridge (That sounds kind of gross, doesn't it?) so I added them in, brought the broth slowly to a simmer again and continued to simmer for another 30 minutes. I'd skimmed the scum from time to time, but didn't save and strain it to use in cooking like the CSCA instructions suggested. Once the broth cooled, I lined a strainer with paper towel, placed it over a bowl with a spout, and poured the broth through. If my math is correct, it made about 3 quarts of broth. I poured two courts into individual 1-cup freezer containers (I like the Tupperware freezer mates or whatever they are called), put 1 quart in the fridge to make soup, and used the rest to cook last night's rice with dinner.

The result this time was a rich, flavorful broth! I think I might be ready now to tackle veal stock! If you're a seasoned (pun intended) broth maker, please share your tips in the comments!

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