Thursday, October 9, 2014

Chicken Stock & Consommé

And this is what you do with the bones from the chicken you de-boned last week.

I'm going traditional with this one, straight out of the garde manger textbook.  However, I'm cutting it down a bit.  What is the average home cook going to do with a gallon of chicken stock?  Here, we're working with one chicken's worth of bones and trimmings, which will be somewhere between 1-1/2 and 2 pounds.  That will make about a quart, otherwise known as enough for the base of your average pot of soup, risotto, or stuffing recipe.

I rifled through the broth bag to pick out only celery, onion, and carrot for the base stock.  There's an awful lot of kale in there.  I still have a quart of veggie broth in the freezer, but my next batch will be heavy on the kale and celery.  That would be lovely for a stuffing base.  Can you tell that I'm ready for Thanksgiving?

For the second part of this recipe, the consommé, I cut up fresh stuff.  I even sacrificed half a pound of perfectly good ground turkey.  Unlike stock, which is leftovers, consommé is a proper recipe in its own right.  It is an elegant and somewhat labor-intensive dish, and all diners think of it is strained soup.  It is clarified soup, which can also be boiled down into a reduction sauce or all the way down into a form of gelled, preservable soup base that can be rehydrated.

Chicken Stock
2 lbs chicken bones
6 C water
2 oz by weight chopped onion
1 oz by weight chopped celery
1 oz by weight chopped carrot
1 bay leaf
3 coriander seeds or peppercorns
1 sprig fresh thyme

1.  In a pot, bring chicken bones and water just barely to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Boiling will bring up scummy stuff, so keep the water on as low a heat as possible.  Cover and come back in 4 hours.
2.  Stir in remaining ingredients, leave the lid off, and continue to simmer for another hour.

3.  Run contents of pot through a coffee filter or cheesecloth placed over a mesh strainer.  It will take some time, but don't force the liquid through.  All those little specks of cooked chicken at the bottom of the pot are safe to eat, but not pretty.  Refrigerate overnight, then skim off any fat.  Stock may be used immediately or stored up to three days.

Makes about 1 quart

Difficulty rating  π

Chicken Consommé
1 quart chicken stock
1/2 lb ground chicken or turkey (ground beef is more traditional)
3 egg whites (1/2 C if you're using carton)
2 oz diced onion
1 oz diced carrot
1 oz diced celery
herbs of choice (bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, parsley, etc)
salt and white pepper to finish
reserved carrot and celery leaves for garnish

1.  Make meatloaf out of everything except the stock, salt, and pepper.  Just mush it all together.
2.  In a large saucepan, add stock and that lump of meat, then stir it together while heating over medium.  It's going to look like something you don't want to eat.  Let the soup warm up slowly, stirring every minute or so until the meat forms a "raft".  Yes, it's just as gross as it sounds.  Reduce heat to a simmer.  You don't want to boil this, or the act of boiling will kick up more of the gunk we're trying to get rid of.  The idea is that the raft absorbs any bits left in the stock, while emitting more flavor.
3.  After an hour, strain through coffee filters or cheesecloth over a mesh strainer.  Use a ladle so you don't have to kick up more debris.  Think of it as wading on the edge of a lake.  You can drag your feet until it gets muddy or step carefully and only get wisps around the ankles.  The raft doesn't look any better after it's cooked, but it is perfectly safe to eat.  I added mine to some marinara.  You could stir it into mac & cheese, chili, or anything Hamburger Helper.

4.  Add a very subtle amount of salt and white pepper to the consommé, just one or two shakes for the whole batch.  Chill consommé, then skim off any fat.  Can be served chilled or hot, with bits of celery and carrot as garnish.  If chilled, it will require one extra shake each of salt & pepper.  Mine didn't come out as clear as I was hoping (see photo at top), but I totally nailed the salt & pepper.  The flavor is rich, yet smooth, with only the faintest hint of the spices and herbs.

Makes about 3 C

Difficulty rating :)

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