Georges Auguste Escoffier, French chef, restaurateur, and culinary writer once said “Stocks are to cooking what foundations are to a house” at least in French cooking. This is because stocks are indispensable to classic French cuisine. Stocks play a big role on the sauce making process as well as in reinforcing dishes. According to Escoffier without stock nothing can be done. He strongly believed that in order to be successful a mindful cook should pay particular attention to the making of his stock. Therefore, to achieve the best result it is necessary to pay attention to the quality and freshness of the ingredients; but most important, meticulous “Care” should be exercised when preparing stocks. I was first introduced to stock in cooking school where we learned four different stocks, chicken, vegetable, fish (white stocks), and veal or beef (brown) stock. Today we are making chicken stock; this is the one I make and use the most. Chicken stock is very versatile; you can use it as a base for soups, sauces and as liquid on rice dishes or stews.
Making stocks is easy but there are a few guidelines to the making of any good stock; below I will list some of the guidelines giving to me in culinary school. Most of the time, I stick to the French Culinary Institute’s chicken stock recipe. I constantly modify it in terms of ingredients (I like to add a little bit of ginger to the original recipe) and quantity. If the purpose is to make a sauce I use only the aromatic ingredients of the original recipe. However, most of the time when I make the chicken stock with the purpose of making soups for my son and family I add a little bit of ginger. We make lots of soups in this house and having fresh chicken stock is a plus because once the stock is done, finishing the soup of any other preparation with it is easy. Once I learned to make stock I never bought the store version again.
3-4 lbs of chicken carcasses/bone (I used a whole chicken with breast removed)
6 quarts cold water (1 ½ gallons)
For the Aromatic Elements:
10 oz. onions, cut in mirepoix
10 oz carrots, cut in mirepoix
3 ½ oz. celery
3 oz. leek
8 garlic cloves (reduce this amount by half if you don’t like it too much)
Bouquet garni (* thyme (few stems), parsley stems (few stems), bay leaf (2), and peppercorns (8-10 peppercorns).
Note/ Tips: Before starting please note the following:
Always choose fresh good quality ingredients (fresh bones, fresh protein, vegetables or herbs) do not be tend to add those ingredients that are about to spoiled and need to be used ASP.
Blanching* your bones to obtain more clarity on your stock (optional).
Always start your stock with cold water (to achieve more flavor and clarity)
Simmer stocks slowly, uncovered and do not allow it to boil to avoid the stock to became cloudy. It should simmer gently.
Do not stir up the bottom during cooking, but frequently skimmed and degreased it; if you need more water added as it simmers.
At the end of cooking carefully strain your stock and cooled it down completely before refrigerating.
To make the bouquet garni* or sachet take a cheesecloth; wrapped and tied together a few stems of thyme and parsley, 2 bay leaves and 8-10 peppercorns-I also included the garlic. Wrapping the herbs is optional since, all these ingredients can be added to the stock loose as the stock will be strained at the end anyways.
Trim the bones of fat, skin and blood. Rinse the bones in cold water and transfer to a stockpot. Cover with cold water and bring the pot to a boil, (if you are blanching the bones, then drain and rinse the bones now; again cover the bones with fresh cold water and return the pot to fire).
As soon as the liquid comes to a boil lower the heat and skim off the foam that forms on top. Simmer the stock and continue to skim off the foam.
Add the aromatics and bouquet garni with the garlic and simmer for to 2 hours skimming through out the whole process.
Bouquet garni: mixture of herbs and aromatics used to flavor stocks, soups and other food preparations- it is wrapped and tied together in cheesecloth and removed at the end of the cooking process.
Mirepoix: combination of chopped onions, carrots and celery used to add flavor and aroma to stocks, soups and other culinary preparation.
Blanching: It is a Cooking technique in which food is briefly cooked in boiling water and then shocked or placed under running water to stop the cooking process.