Intro and Chicken Stock question

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by hkusp45c, Sep 22, 2010.

  1. hkusp45c

    hkusp45c

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    Hullo gang,

    I've been lurking for a while and I must say this is a great site full of fabulous knowledge and experience. I'm not just sucking up either.

    I did search but, couldn't find the specific information I'm looking for.

    My plan is to use chicken quarters, boil them until the meat is done, cool them, clean the bones of meat. I then intend to can (with a pressure cooker) the chicken meat in its broth, save some broth for canning and use the left overs for the next step. Then I plan to roast the bones in the oven (I'd guess 350-375 for 30-40 minutes) and make a stock, which I'd also like to can for future use.

    If my calculations are correct, for every ten pounds of leg quarters I should get 3 quarts of canned, cooked Chicken meat in broth, 4 quarts of broth and a few (2 to 3) quarts of stock. Which is a decent yield for a few hours of work and less than 5 dollars worth of ingredients (OK maybe 7 dollars with mirepoix).

    I think the plan is solid but, I have a few questions, if you'll indulge my ignorance and inexperience.

    Assuming I have 10 pounds of leg quarters, do I just use water enough to cover for cooking and then call that broth when it's done? After skimming the protein and solidifying and discarding the fat?

    For the stock, it's essentially the same recipe (as far as spices and mirepoix) but with roasted bones and longer cooking, right?

    Is there a downside to using the leg quarters as opposed to backs and necks, both of which I can get almost as cheaply as quarters but without the benefit of the canned, cooked chicken meat.

    Finally, can I make the stock in a large crock pot on low for 20-24 hours as opposed to watching a pot for 6-8?

    So, what do you fine folks think of my devious little plan? Feasible? Any gaping holes?
     
  2. hkusp45c

    hkusp45c

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    No input at all?
     
  3. french fries

    french fries

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    I think you're trying to do too much. Keep it simple. Have you ever made chicken stock before?
     
  4. hkusp45c

    hkusp45c

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    Well, no. which is why I'm asking about it. I've made shrimp stock before with roasted shells, it turned out very well.
     
  5. french fries

    french fries

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    Then my recommendation would be to not reinvent the wheel or try to do three things at once. Let's just do chicken broth. Or let's just do chicken stock. As you get more comfortable with those you can try canned chicken meat in broth. But all at once? From the same ingredients? I don't think so.

    Chicken stock needs body and flavor. You won't get that from leg bones that were boiled for an hour. Use back, necks, wing tips, feet, start with cold water, bring it to a boil slowly, reduce to a simmer, skim and defat with a laddle, and keep simmering for a few hours. Keep tasting. You can add aromatics if you want. Carrots, Celery, Onion are the classics. Touch of garlic if you want. A bouquet garni if you'd like.

    Then remove the bones, strain and chill quickly, for example in an ice water bath, then in the fridge it goes. Once cold, you can remove any remaining fat & impurities from the top, and use or freeze.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2010
  6. hkusp45c

    hkusp45c

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    Couldn't I roast the quarters, peel the meat, roast the bones and then make stock from those? If so, I could do a batch of broth and meat with the boiled ones and a batch of stock and meat with the roasted ones. I could also buy necks and backs if they're necessary.

    Frankly, making and canning broth is no big deal (as well as canning the chicken in broth) I've just never made stock. I was just trying to get the most use out of my ingredients.

    ETA: What about the crockpot question ....
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2010
  7. gnnairda

    gnnairda

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    since you just mentioned you have a pressure cooker why not just boil it in the pressure cooker for 20 minutes for the stock instead?

    I use a 12 quart kuhn rikon and make a large batch. Comes out very clear. It is also important you do not cook it longer than 20 minutes otherwise it will become cloudy. I also like to use the natural release method.
     
  8. titomike

    titomike

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    I understand roughly where your'e coming from...we do something similar in various ways using cuts on the bone, braising as the base technique and the liquor for sauce. This uses less liquid and delivers the required intensity of flavour after a 2-3 hour cook.

    To boost volume re-stocking the bones will work but give a weaker result that would have to be reduced further than normal to be usable and therefore yield & energy-cost would defeat the point. If you keep your mire poix 'clean' it can be blitzed and passed for a decent soup base or somewhere in your process.

    Braising as opposed to stewing calls for liquid half way up the cut & covered so raising the meat on a rack allows for more liquid & more room for other ingredients eg. canned tomatoes have worked for us.

    However, chickens get consumed faster than their frames can be profitably used/sold so with a little effort you should be able to source them for next to nothing. Your saving would then be in that you are boosting rather than basing with the fresh bones...using less.

    As to technique, your idea is closer to the Asian way described in here somewhere in the 'Tonkatsu Broth' thread which uses a pressure cooker over a longer period and tweaked my interest.

    This is just a little raw data for you to input....its all about the on-site R&D. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/thumb.gif
     
  9. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

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    To my mind, the only thing wrong with this plan is that you are confusing your terms --- that actually matters, practically.

    Broth and stock are not fundamentally different things. When French-style chefs get technical about a distinction, what they usually mean is that stock has a certain significant amount of gelatin in it (naturally extracted, as a rule), and is thus sort of halfway gelled when cold, whereas broth is usually not like this. Sometimes the distinction is more that "broth" is pretty much anything goes, and stock is more specific.

    The distinction you're making is between a white stock and a brown stock, and that's quite a different matter. Some points:

    1. Brown stock with chicken alone does not work well. It ends up having far too much distinctively chicken flavor. That sounds like a good thing, but it's not: a brown stock should be useful as a backdrop for a wide range of sauces, not a flavor of its own. Chicken (or turkey) can be used to extend meat (esp. veal and pork), but should not dominate. White stock with chicken alone works fine, though purists would disagree.

    2. A pressure cooker works admirably for making stock, and you can keep it going for hours if you wish. The crucial point is that the longer you're going to run it, the more scrupulous you need to be about removing all the fat before you start. Bear in mind that a pressure cooker on max pressure will tear the collagen from the bones and give you a very stiff stock, so if you overdo it on bones you could end up with something very stiff but not especially flavorful. The ideal is balance.

    3. Excellent stock should include three basic ingredient categories: aromatic vegetables, meat, gelatin/collagen. It is usual to get the gelatin from the collagen in bones, but it can be added with pure gelatin if you prefer. What I notice in your post, which I've seen again and again -- it seems to be something perpetuated by third-rate cooking instructors -- is the wrongheaded notion that stock requires bone and not meat. This is utterly wrong. You can make a pure bone stock, but it will never be as flavorful as a meat stock. Cheaper, though, which is the usual point. The best chicken stock possible uses an entire chicken, minus the feathers, lungs, skin, fat pads, and liver -- these either cloud the stock (fats) or make them bitter (liver, lungs, etc.). Head, neck, heart, tongue, feet, wings, meat, bones --- that's all good. But that's an expensive way to make stock, so what you usually do is put all the trimmings you're not using for your chicken dish aside to make stock. In the end, the meat flavor comes from meat, not bone. The gelatin comes from the collagen in bones, and to a lesser degree meat. The background roundness, depth, and complexity comes from the vegetables.

    4. Vegetables: I think 1/2 weight of vegetables to meat/bone works well, but it does depend a good deal on which vegetables. Some vegetables should be avoided altogether: all leafy greens will make your stock taste of "pot liquor," which is delightful but excessively distinctive to the point that you can't use it for anything but greens. Most squashes, certainly hard squashes, will overpower a stock in an instant. Peppers, sweet or hot, tend to make stock bitter. With some vegetables, it's a matter of quantity and balance: turnip, radish, daikon, and other members of that family can, if used in too great a quantity, overpower your stock, which will then taste forever of boiled turnip. Potatoes, in significant quantity, will break down into a cloudy fog of tiny particles that will not strain out well --- and when they do, they will take a lot of your good stock with them. Carrot is good, but in large quantities will make your stock an intense golden color that is not always desirable. It's probably impossible to overdo celery or leek. Incidentally, on the subject of spices, a bouquet garni is good, but don't overdo it. Some whole peppercorns are good. Strong spices, like bay leaves, I tend to think overpower the stock. Salt is very bad: you want to be able to manipulate your stock's characteristics when cooking, and if there's salt in it you cannot do this.

    5. Bone-roasting: If you want to make brown stock, you need meat bones. Best is veal, then pork, then beef. Roast them for an hour at 450, in a tray that just holds them. Turn them and roast another hour. Turn, scatter with half the vegetables, and roast another half hour to hour, depending on how the vegetables look. Deep brown is good; burnt is bad. Your bones will look so deeply browned that they verge on burnt, but they should not actually burn like this. Put them in the pot, then deglaze the pan with water and pour all the deglazing liquid into the pot. Add the remaining ingredients, add cold water, and cook as stock. Note that this doesn't work so well in a pressure cooker because it's only worth doing with a lot of bones --- but a pressure cooker can't actually hold all that much at one go.

    6. Cooking: Cook slooooow. You do not want the liquid to roil, you just want a bare simmer, the odd bubbling around the edge. You should have to look carefully to see whether it's simmering. Fish: 1 hour or so. Chicken: 2 hours or so. Meat: 4 hours or so. Brown stock meat and bone: 10 hours+. You can increase these times, but fish stock and to a lesser degree chicken stock will lose their bright, fresh flavors if you cook them too long.

    7. Straining: Strain coarse, pouring fast, to "wash the bones" of any good flavor. Strain again fine, removing all the little traces of broken-down bones and vegetables. Now you need to chill this liquid fast, or it will act as a brilliant medium for bacterial cultures. The fastest method for normal use is to put the pot into a big sink with the plug in, pour a whole bunch of ice around the outside, and then add cold water to the sink until the pot almost barely wants to float. Wait half an hour and test the temperature with a scrupulously clean finger. If need be, drain the sink and add more cold water (and ice, if you've got it). When the liquid is about room temperature, put the whole pot in the refrigerator overnight. DO NOT STIR. In the morning, the fat will have frozen solid on the top and can be scraped or strained off. Now you have stock, cold and gelatinous, and can decide what to do with it.

    So what about your plan?

    Keep it simple. Start by stripping off the fat and chopping your leg quarters into coarse chunks. Put those in the pressure cooker. Add half the weight in vegetables, heavy on the celery and leeks (and other onions), some carrot, light on other things. Add a few peppercorns and a bouquet garni. Fill the cooker 60% full with COLD water (important: do NOT ever put hot water in!). Seal the cooker, put on maximum pressure, and crank it up. Process normally for 2-3 hours, then natural slow-release (shut off the heat and wait until the button goes down). Strain the liquid coarsely, then fine. Chill in the sink, then in the fridge, then scrape off the frozen fat.

    Now bring your stock back to a boil, noticing how it clears as it warms. Skim off any scum that rises when you do this.

    Taste your stock. It should have a paradoxically minimal flavor. It should, that is, have a distinct taste --- which you can't quite place. It's definitely meaty, but somehow it doesn't really taste like much of anything. That's perfect. When you use this in a sauce, you'll add stuff, and that stuff will be the core of the flavor; the stock will be the backdrop that brings it to perfection. When you use it in a soup, the same happens. And so on. When cold, the stock should be definitely gelatinous, but not rubbery --- not quite Jell-O, but not just thick liquid either. Now if your stock has too little flavor or too little gelatin, you can reduce it by boiling rapidly down by a third and testing again. If it's too thick or too strong, add water.

    When it's right, simply can it under pressure, the normal way. If in doubt, you can go overboard with processing time: there is nothing to break down, so you can't overcook it. Remember just how good a bacterial medium stock is, and don't take chances.

    If you want to use the pressure cooker to process stock but have too much material at one go, there is an alternative, very excellent approach. Simply do this whole process the normal way, using only enough material and water to fill the cooker to its safe 60% level. Strain, cool, chill, and scrape as usual. Now do it all again, but instead of using cold water, use the stock you just made. Do this as many times as you like. The stock will get very, very strong as you do this. In the end, you may have a stock that actually does need to be diluted. But you may have something else.

    If, in particular, you have done this and used browned meat bones, look at the results after 3 or 4 successive processing runs. It should be deep brown, and when warmed it should be crystal-clear. Cold, it should be very thick, stiffer than Jell-O. It should have an extremely intense meat flavor, with that same strange not-quite-identifiable thing going on, and yet by now it should have a real flavor of its own that is mysteriously meaty. Warm, it should be thick, like medium gravy. If you have achieved this result, you now have a true demi-glace. Can it as it is, in small cans: you never need a whole lot of this at one time, so don't put it up in quarts. Half-pints would be ideal.
     
  10. hkusp45c

    hkusp45c

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    ChrisLehrer, that was an informative and, frankly, inspiring post. I really want to express my appreciation for such a well thought out and intuitive instruction.
     
  11. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    I'm surprised at one thing: you say you can buy the backs and necks almost as cheaply as the quarters. Doesn't make much sense that you would pay more for what are, essentially, scraps. Be that as it may, go for the quarters for sure (or, depending on price, get whole birds and break them down yourself).

    Anyway, I will assume your math is correct as to quantities. But as to the cooking time, you want to be careful. When I make stock, I start with whole chickens, which are broken down. Once the liquid comes to the simmer point they remain for 20-25 minutes is all. I then strip the fully-cooked poached meat, and return the bones to the stockpot.

    So far we're on the same road.

    Here's my concern: I freeze the poached chicken for later use. You're going to can it. What I'm wondering is whether or not the chicken will then get overcooked. Boned chicken goes an hour and a half at #10, and, usually, you start with it only partially cooked for that reason. So it's going to be a balancing act for you. You want to leave the chicken pieces in the stockpot just long enough to get partially cooked (2/3 cooked is the figure used in the canning literature), extracting whatever flavor you can.

    I would start checking the meat after no more than ten minutes at simmer, until you determine how long it takes to get to the right point. Then write that number down, somewhere, because it could be a crucial figure in future for what you are doing.
     
  12. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    My plan is to use chicken quarters, boil them until the meat is done, cool them, clean the bones of meat. I then intend to can (with a pressure cooker) the chicken meat

    There are two problems with this statement, one of them really significant.

    When making stock, you do not boil the contents. Bring the pot to a slow simmer, and maintain it at that point.

    More important: A pressure cooker should not, repeat not be used for canning. There are significant time/temperature differences between the two, based primarily on heat up/cool down times. The cooker works too quickly in that regard. As a result, the canning figures you use will be way out of kilter, to the point where there are potential health hazards.
     
  13. chefedb

    chefedb

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    I agree with KY. Pressure cookers are not meant for canning, you are looking for trouble. Also you are cooking the poor chicken twice. When your finished you will have shredded chicken similar to canned tuna. Other thing is boiling chicken stock is a no no  to simmer is correct. If you are paying same thing for backs and necks as quarters you are either over paying for the backs and necks or getting a great deal on the quarters. Also time wise the size of the quarters determines how long to cook them.
     
  14. amazingrace

    amazingrace

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    Absolutely!  In spite of the fact that some advertisements promote pressure cookers as "canners",  they really are NOT recommended for this purpose.  Pressure cookers are intended only for preparing foods either for immediate consumption, or for freezing.  If you want to pressure can, then you need the proper equipment for that.  Additionally,  you will also need the most up to date canning information for recipes and time charts.  Your timing is critical,  especially if you live more than 3,000 feet above sea level. 

    www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2010
  15. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    I don't know anything about pressure cooking, Grace. But with canning, the time/temperature differentials actually start at 1,000 feet.

    That aside, your basic contention is absolutely correct.
     
  16. amazingrace

    amazingrace

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    Sorry, I was thinking of the adjustments recommended for pressure cooking, which begin at 3,000 ft.  Thanks, KY, I stand corrected.
     
     
  17. grumio

    grumio

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    A few cent's worth:

    Before I had a refrigerator with a decent freezer, I regularly canned my stock in a pressure cooker (a fairly old 8-quart Mirro) - worked like a charm.

    The distinction between "stock" and "broth" should be very far down on your list of things to be concerned about.

    Slow cookers are terrific for making stock.  So are pressure cookers.  I've been using the latter lately for "bone bag" stock.  It makes a cloudy stock, but unless you're planning to make something that requires a clear broth, I wouldn't sweat clarity.

    One of my favorite materials for a nice strong brown stock is turkey necks.  I especially like reducing brown turkey stock down to a syrup (glace de dindon?).  Whatever kind of stock you make, you should try reducing some down to glace.  It's amazing for sauces & stews.

    To my mind, making and using homemade stock is one of the Great Leaps Forward that a home cook makes.  It makes a HUGE difference.  So good for you.  Go for it.
     
  18. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    I regularly canned my stock in a pressure cooker (a fairly old 8-quart Mirro) - worked like a charm.

    Reminds me, Grumio, of the friends who use open kettle canning for green beans. When called down on it they respond, "we ain't killed nobody yet."

    Maybe not. But that doesn't make open kettle a safe practice with low-acid products.

         Same with canning with a pressure cooker. Maybe you've gotten away with it, through good luck. But that doesn't make it a safe practice.

         More than likely, because we are talking about a clear liquid, the internal temperature did, indeed, reach 240+. But I wouldn't want to count on it. Pressure canners aren't all that expensive that it's worth taking a chance on chancy proceedures.
     
  19. grumio

    grumio

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    First I've heard of this.  Is there some reason to believe that when my pressure cooker says it's working at 15 psi that it is not actually doing so?  I certainly lack the means to test this for myself.  Everything I've done with my pressure cooker has pretty much conformed with my expectations of how it would work.  Is there really a problem with pressure cookers being way off base?