The Alchemy of turning Stock into Liquid Gold

Chicken Stock & Consomme’

A couple of days ago, I posted about saving money by breaking down chickens. Apart from having some lovely cuts of meat, you can use the leftover chicken frames to make stock. You can freeze the stock for later use or take it to the next level and make it into a consomme’.

I’ve been making my own stock for years, and sure, I will grab stock from the supermarket when I’m in a pinch, but it doesn’t have the same depth of flavour as what I make myself. The secret ingredient of a good stock is ‘patience.’ While stock doesn’t require much hands-on preparation time, it requires slow simmering for the best results, often for several hours. You may be tempted to boil the stock for a faster result, but your stock will end up very cloudy and less flavoursome.

Mastering how to make stock is a keystone to good cooking. It is a crucial ingredient to soups, classical sauces like Veloute’ and Espagnole, and demi-glace and jus. Growing up, the only brown sauce I knew was gravy; create a roux by adding flour to the fat and juices leftover in the roasting pan and add the leftover water from the boiled vegetables to create a thick, cloying glue-like substance. When I first discovered jus, I became pretty determined to learn how to make good stock. What’s great is that once you understand the basics, you can pretty much make any stock you want and tweak it according to your need or taste.

Stocks are referred to as either white or brown stocks. There is some debate as to what constitutes a white stock as opposed to a brown stock. Some refer to it in terms of the protein used, a white stock typically from white meats such as fish or poultry, while brown stocks from red meats. Others argue that the stocks are derived from the treatment of the ingredients, which are browned before adding water. Ultimately, a white or brown stock comes down to the colour you end up with.

A huge tip in making a brown stock is how you treat onion. For a brown stock, cut the onion in half and cook in a black pan, cut side down, peel and all, until blackened… yes, blackened!

In making a basic stock you are going to end up with a lot of sediment. To remove much of the larger sediment, strain your stock through muslin cloth. In my mind, every kitchen should have some muslin cloth. it is something you are going to need time and time again. You can find muslin cloth at the supermarket, or you can buy from Spotlight in Australia. I also like to leave my stock overnight in the refrigerator so that fat sets on the surface, which can then be easily removed with a spoon the next day. If you want to take this to another level, use a raft. A raft acts like magic, drawing the sediment to the uncooked protein, leaving you with a clear consomme’ … liquid gold!

Chicken Stock

Ingredients
  • 4 Chicken frames
  • 1 Large onion
  • 1 Celery head (the leafy part of the celery)
  • 2 Large carrots
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1tsp Peppercorns
  • Season to taste
Method

1. Cut celery head and carrots into chunks. Spread mirepoix evenly in baking tray, place chicken frames on top, and place in pre-heated oven at 180 degrees C. (350 degrees F.) until broowned.

2. Half onion (leave skin on), place cut side down in a black pan, cook on stove until cut side is blackened.

3. Add chicken frames, mirepoix and onion to large stockpot. Add bay leaves and peppercorns. Fill with water until ingredients are covered.

4. Bring to simmer, and allow to simmer for approximately 4 to 6 hours covered, until approximately half the liquid has evaporated.

5. Strain through colander into clean saucepan.

6. Leave to cool in refrigerator overnight.

7. Remove set fat with a spoon. Place over low heat on the stove until stock liquidises.

8. Strain stock through muslin cloth.

Chicken Consomme’

Ingredients
  • Chicken stock
  • 1 Large chicken breast
  • 1 Large carrot
  • 2 Celery sticks
  • 1 Medium onion
  • 6 Eggs (whites only)
Method

1. Add chicken breast to food processor and mince

2. Julienne carrot, celery and onion

3. Lightly whisk 6 egg whites, add mince and julienne vegetables and whisk together to form the raft mixture.

4. Add raft mixture to cold chicken stock and whisk together.

5. Slowly bring to simmer, gently stirring to make sure no raft has stuck to the saucepan bottom.

6. The raft will rise to the surface. Make hole in the centre of the raft to monitor progress of the consomme’. Extract liquid from the hole with a ladle and gently pour over raft to filter consomme’.

7. Once consomme’ is clear, strain through muslin cloth into clean saucepan.

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