Chicken Stock - How important is blanching?

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Joined Jan 6, 2018
I am an enthusiastic amateur home cook about to make 6-7 gallons of chicken stock in one fell swoop. I have a 50L stock pot with a false bottom and spigot driven by a Blichmann Hellfire propane burner. It's gear from home brewing that has transferred favorably to stock making, and I really enjoy filling my freezer with good quality chicken stock to have on hand whenever I need it.

I am curious as to whether or not people with more experience than me bother with blanching and draining the chicken parts before simmering to make the stock or if that is only necessary for beef/veal stocks. Also, do you add mirepoix and aromatics right at the beginning or do you simmer the chicken parts for a while first? Finally, as long as I am buying 20-40 lb. cases of chicken parts, what parts do you recommend? I usually go for necks and backs and have been happy with the results, but can something superior be had if I were to use different parts?

If I am going to make a ton all at once, I may as well do it right.

Thanks in advance for your advice!
 
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I usually blanch the chicken first. This help remove proteins and other "impurities" that otherwise forms the froth (scum) that floats on the surface. I tend to prefer clear stocks, especially chicken stock. So, the clearer the base product, the less effort needed at the end to clarify the stock.

Sometimes, instead of blanching, I will roast the chicken parts and vegetables first. This creates a darker, richer stock that I tend to prefer, especially since I reduce my stock more than usual to intensify the flavor. Its more or less a chicken demi glace by the time I'm done.

As for parts, necks and backs are fine. I use those along with legs and thighs with other parts such as giblets etc. I don't use white meat on account of the fact that it really doesn't have much to offer in terms of flavor.

Cheers! :)
 
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I roast everything - onions, carrots, celery, garlic, carcass, etc. If you can find chicken feet by all means use some, if you want a clear stock don't let it boil, or it will be cloudy. The only way to clear that up is with a "raft" made of egg whites.
 
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Simmer the chicken parts for a while first. The vegetables don't take long to give up their flavor so the last half hour to forty five minutes should be plenty of time. This gives a brighter vegetable addition to the stock.
I rarely blanch the chicken bones but never let it boil, just a slow simmer.
Most of all, taste the stock as it cooks. At a certain point the stock will taste best. Too long won't make the stock any better. I always look for the gelatin and collagen to disappear. Once that's gone, the bones have given up all they are going to.
 
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The terms “broth” and “stock” are often used interchangeably. ... Stock is made from bones, while broth is made mostly from meat or vegetables. Using bones in stockcreates a thicker liquid, while broth tends to be thinner and more flavorful.
Chicken stock tends to be made more from bony parts, whereas chicken broth is made more out of meat. Chicken stock tends to have a fuller mouth feel and richer flavor, due to the gelatin released by long-simmering bones. ... That'll help the flavor tremendously.

I'm not sayin' ... I'm just sayin.



"We work in kitchens ... It ain'te rocket surgery.".
 
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We blanch, starting off with cold water to remove scum—that is, dead protein from the bones. Scum has no nutritional value, no flavour, and is rather gritty. If allowed to remain in the stock while simmering it will break up into minute particles and cloud or “ dirty” the stock. It can be easily removed as it rises to the to
the top and conceals, but once the liquid comes to a boil it will break up and cloud.

If the bones/ meat are fresh, you will have minimal dead protein, if a few days old or frozen, a lot. As others have said, you can roast the bones and skip the blanching, this also imparts ( imho) a deeper and richer flavour.

So it’s six of one and a half dozen of the other, either way it’s an extra step, and one that will be noticed if you skip it.
 
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Just to pigpile on what everyone else has said....

I think in your case, blanching or roasting is a good idea. A little scum is nothing to worry about, because it's easy enough to skim off and/or strain out. But you're working in such large quantities that I think you're going to have trouble dealing with it, and that's going to lead to problems.

To blanch or to roast: the question is whether you want a white or a brown stock, and that's a question of how you're going to use it. A white stock is more versatile, but it's also a lot less flavorful. If you're making lots of soups, using stock as a "background" neutral-flavored addition when cooking, those kinds of things, you probably want white: it's a background canvas, much superior to water but not taking center-stage and distracting from your main ingredients. Brown stock really comes into its own when reduced and used with meat, but in that context it is irreplaceable.

I too am a home cook, and I make a lot of stock, though I do it in a lot of small batches. I find that white stock is my go-to, and I go through probably close to a gallon a week.

Two small suggestions:

1. Be very wary of using herbs in your stock, as they can quickly overpower. If you want a definite herb flavor for something, your best bet is to bring the made stock to a strong simmer, drop in the fresh herbs, and shut off the heat. Leave for half an hour to an hour, then strain. You will get a fresh, unmuddied herb flavor.

2. Don't put salt in when making stock. I could go on and on about why this is a mistake; suffice it to say that it is so. Just don't do it.
 
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