Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Making chicken stock

January 12, 2010

Recipe for great chicken soup starts with homemade broth

Karen Miltner
Staff writer


In my book, a chicken soup only earns the homemade moniker if the cook has made the broth from scratch.

Here are some tips for making the best chicken broth you can.

  • Chicken broth is best when made with a combination of meat, bones and skin. Neck bones, backbones, wing tips and all giblets except the liver can be thrown in the pot as well.
  • The older and larger the chicken or hen, usually the more flavor for your stock, though the meat will be stringy and dry. A 5- to 7-pound roaster works well, but more practical for most families are the 3½- to 4½-pound fryers or broilers, which are a good compromise of size, tasty meat and affordability. You can also buy a combination of chicken parts.
  • Bones contain collagen, which adds a velvety richness to broth. Some chicken soup recipes add veal bones or beef marrow bones for the extra shot of collagen. If you want to keep your chicken soup as chicken-y as possible, an extra pound of chicken wings will work equally well. Collagen-rich chicken feet also make great stock, but they are harder to find.
  • Start with cold, fresh water for your broth. Hot liquid will make the proteins in the chicken coagulate and the starches in the vegetable to gelatinize too quickly, writes the authors of Culinary Institute of America Book of Soups (Lebhar-Friedman Books, $35). Ideally, the pot should be taller than it is wide so that the entire chicken is submerged below the water, but if you are using a wide-mouthed large sauce pan or Dutch oven, simply cut the whole chicken into quarters or eighths so the meat is completely covered.
  • Bring the liquid to a vigorous simmer, not a hard, wild boil. If the chicken cooks too quickly, it gets tough and clouds the broth. Once the liquid reaches a simmer, turn the heat down so that the liquid continues at a gentle simmer. Mimi Sheraton refers to this kind of simmering as a smile, and in her 1995 book The Whole World Loves Chicken Soup (no longer in print), she describes it as "a sort of twinkling, trembly, faint rippling just below the surface."
  • As the chicken cooks, foamy impurities will rise to the surface. Skim the foam continuously until your broth becomes clear. Most foam is given off during the first hour of cooking. Then add your herbs, spices, vegetables and other aromatics.
  • Be careful when salting the broth, writes Pittsford's Marcie Ver Ploeg in her 1995 cookbook, Chicken Soup. The broth may be reduced further in soup making so if you add too much too soon, the final product could be overly salty.
  • If the broth tastes weak after you've strained out the solids, you can reduce it by continuing to simmer until the flavors are suitably concentrated.
  • If you are going to use the broth right away, skim the fat off with a spoon after cooking. If you are saving the broth for later use, chill it overnight so the chicken fat will congeal in a single layer on the top and can be easily removed. Like bacon grease, this congealed fat is a delicious cooking medium.
  • Once cooled and chilled, a well-made broth with ample collagen will be jelly-like. This is a sign that you've done it right.

  • For recipes that call for small amounts of broth, freeze cooled broth in ice cube trays overnight, then transfer to freezer bags.

    Basic Chicken Broth

    Adopted from the Culinary Institute of America Book of Soups (Lebhar-Friedman Books, $35).

    A 4-pound chicken or chicken parts (legs, breasts) that equal that weight ½ to 1 pound chicken wings (optional)
    3 quarts cold water
    1 large onion, diced
    1 large carrot, diced
    1 celery stalk, diced
    5 to 6 whole black peppercorns
    3 to 4 parsley stems
    1 bay leaf
    1 sprig fresh thyme
    1½ teaspoon salt, or to taste

    Place chicken and water in a large pot (the water should cover the chicken by at least 2 inches; add more water if necessary). Bring water slowly to a boil over medium heat.

    As water comes to a boil, skim any foam that rises to the surface. Adjust heat once a boil is reached so that a slow, lazy simmer is established. Cover partially and simmer 2 hours, skimming as often as necessary.

    Add remaining ingredients. Continue to simmer, skimming surface as necessary, until broth is fully flavored, about 1 hour.

    Remove chicken and cool slightly. Dice or shred the meat and reserve to garnish the broth or save for another use. Discard skin and bones.

    Strain broth through a fine sieve or cheesecloth-lined colander into a large metal container. Discard the solids.

    If you are using the broth right away, skim off any fat on the surface. If you are not using it right away, skip the skimming and cool broth quickly by transferring it to a metal container and placing the container in a sink filled with ice-cold water. Stir the broth as it cools and then transfer to storage containers and chill overnight. The fat will congeal in a layer at the top and can be easily removed before using or freezing. Store in refrigerator for up to 5 days, in the freezer for up to 3 months.

    Makes about 2 quarts.

  • No comments:

    Post a Comment