Friday, March 18, 2011

Simmering Stock

Last Sunday, I mentioned that I had a turkey carcass in the crockpot. I love to take pictures of everything I do, so I thought I would show you.

Normally when I make stock I add a glug or two of vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar) to the bones and let it sit for maybe an hour while I assemble the other ingredients.  I like to add a whole onion (skins, too, because they are full of the good medicinal stuff), lots of garlic, ginger if I have it, celery, and carrots.  It all depends, of course, on what I have on hand.  Sometimes I even add eggshells!  I'm sure you're wondering about that one!  The vinegar is to help draw the calcium and minerals out of the bones, to make the stock extra rich, and it will do the same with the eggshells.  Of course, it's best to use organic, free-range poultry and their eggs, but I use whatever I have on hand.

This particular turkey, however, had been mesquite-smoked for Thanksgiving, and there was a bit of meat along with the bones.  It was THE BEST-TASTING turkey I have ever had, seriously!  I decided that I wanted to make my stock without all the other flavors blended in, so I just did the turkey (with the ACV).  I cooked it all day and overnight on low in the crock.  Then I strained it into a few containers, only filling half-way, so I could put it in the freezer without breaking my containers.  Then I filled the pot with water and cooked those bones a second time all day and all night.  This is what it looked like after the second cooking.

I strained it and topped off the freezer containers, and put a little bit into a jar to compare the color to the first batch.  I don't know if you can tell, but the one on the left (the first batch) gelled up nicely in the frig.  That's what you want, by the way, chicken/turkey/beef/whatever "jello" when it's cold.

There's quite a lot of color difference, but the second time was still pretty flavorful.  I normally would throw everything out at this point, but I decided to fill it up again and cook on high for 4 hours to see what I got out of it.

You can probably tell that it isn't as rich in color, and not in taste, but it still was decent.  If I'm making soup, I typically dilute my stock with water anyway, so this batch won't need that.  I also like to use it for cooking my rice to give it a bit of flavor.

From Simply Recipes website they say this about the fat in stock:
Note about the Fat
I've seen a lot of newer cookbooks advocate the skimming of the fat from the stock. We prefer the traditional method of letting the fat settle in a layer on top of the stock as it cools. This way, the fat acts as a protective layer against bacteria, which is found in the air. The stock will last longer if you keep the fat layer on it. Just lift up the layer of fat and remove the stock when you want to use it. Every few days, bring the stock to a simmer for 10 minutes and let it cool, again with the fat forming a protective layer. Your stock can be stored in the refrigerator and used for up to a couple of weeks this way.

Next time you cook chicken, save the bones (yes, even if  you ate the meat off the chicken!) and make a pot of stock.  If you don't have many bones, start a bag/container in the freezer and when it's full you're ready to go.   Do you ever buy those rotisserie chickens from the grocery store?  (Costco has the best ones!)  I love to save all the flavored broth (that gets all gelled up in the bottom of the plastic tray, if you ever notice), the bones, and skin and make a great-tasting stock!  Let me know how yours turns out, and if you have any secret ingredients that you love to add to yours.

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