The Crazy Suburban Mom: Spreading some chickeny love....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Spreading some chickeny love....

Wanting a better way to make chicken stock I pulled out my behemoth Cooks Illustrated Best Recipes, have you seen it? Over 1000 pages of cookingology type knowledge. It's huge and more than a recipe book.

It's how they got to "best".

And why.

The why makes it different from any other book out there. It's what worked and didn't. Why this was added and that wasn't. Why one cooking method was better than another. You can learn a lot about the science of cooking just reading the recipes.

When I wanted a chicken stock recipe I went to Cook's Illustrated and I found this one:

Quick Chicken Stock


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped medium
4 pounds whole chicken legs or backs and wing tips, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 quarts boiling water
2 teaspoons salt
2 bay leaves


1. Heat the oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion; sauté until colored and softened slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the onion to a large bowl.

2. Add half of the chicken pieces to the pot; sauté both sides until no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked chicken to the bowl with the onions. Sauté the remaining chicken pieces. Return the onions and chicken
pieces to the pot. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the chicken releases its juices, about 20 minutes.

3. Increase the heat to high; add the boiling water, salt, and bay leaves. Return to a simmer, then cover and barely simmer until the stock is rich and flavorful, about 20 minutes.

4. Strain the stock; discard the solids. Before using, de-fat the stock. The stock can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days or frozen for several months.

As easy as this already is - I do a few things differently although my method is the same because I think the magic is in the method. The step where you put the chicken and onions all back into the pot, cover and cook on low for 20 minutes (or so) to release the chickeny love is what makes this stock.
Since I have no cleaver and there is no hacking of chicken parts into 2 inch pieces. And my cooking times are a bit longer because of it. Also in the first chicken cooking step I don't get to not-pink.

I add 2 onions and no bay leaves. I know almost everyone in the world adds bay leaves to their soup stock and I've tried, I really have, but every time I do - I don't like it. I think it may not be so much that I dislike bay leaves as I dislike the bay leaves that I have but I haven't worked that out yet.

And I add a cube or two of these.

I've never known a soup that didn't benefit from a cube or two of those.

It's just a fact.

Yesterday I made this for the forth or fifth time. I used some chicken
backs, a thigh and one drumstick, 2 onions and 2 Knorr cubes.
Half the stock made a nice chicken noodle soup...


Oh my...

And the rest I cooked down until it was very rich and dark (to save space)


I'm going to freeze this and save it for another day.

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Lynette 11/11/09, 7:35 AM  

looks good and thanks for the tip.
myself too, no bay leaves.
but I do not use 'cubes' either as too much sodium. no do i add any oil, enough in the chicken.
when done, i chill and scoop off any 'congelled fat' off the top to help lower the fat content. Ok I agree the flavor is not as rich but I like know I did what I can to keep it as healthy as possible.

The Crazy Suburban Mom 11/11/09, 7:40 AM  

Lynette - I agree that the chicken releases a lot of oil especially if you're using bits like the wings - and to be honest I thought of reversing the order - doing a batch of chicken - the onions and than another batch of chicken and than I could eliminate the oil all together. The oil in the beginning is only to get the onions going and if you do a few chicken pieces you wouldnt even need that.

And definitely you have to skim first. When I used those chicken backs yesterday? Oh my - so much fat. I tasted it at one point to get a sense of flavor and I think I got a spoonful of chicken fat. It was pretty gross actually...

Six Feet Under Blog 11/11/09, 10:44 AM  

Ok, Im not one to cook,but this looks good to try.

The Crazy Suburban Mom 11/11/09, 12:35 PM  

Six feet - honest, its pretty simple. Theres very few ingredients. Not much going on. And a much better flavor than canned

Venti Vixen 11/11/09, 4:04 PM  

Oh my goodness, I need to get this book!

The Crazy Suburban Mom 11/11/09, 6:25 PM  

Venti, it's a GREAT book! It's like really learning while you're cooking. I love that!

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