Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My First Stock

I read this post on Michael Ruhlman's blog a couple weeks ago, and it was as if I was in trouble.  I always use Swanson's low sodium broth when I cook.  So, my wrist slapped, I decided to make chicken again so I could make stock with the leftovers.  Last night was the night.

I roasted a young chicken dressed with just salt, olive oil, and crushed garlic, and after dinner I pulled off most of the leftover meat (I left about two cups of meat on it for the broth because I read the article he linked to, specifically this quote: “If you want your soup to taste like scraps and bones, use scraps and bones. If you want it to taste like meat and vegetables, use meat and vegetables.”)

I did not have four hours though, so I looked around in a few places for stock recipes.  Some say to simmer it an hour and a half, some say four hours, some say in the oven, etc...  I went with something that fit my time frame.

I put the whole chicken carcas, with some meat and all the pan drippings (was that bad?), a chopped onion, two carrots, what celery I had left, a bay leaf, and a few peppercorns into the biggest stock pot I have (it's not that big), and filled it with water until it was all covered.  I brought it to just before a boil, then lowered the heat to a simmer, partially covered the pot.  It simmered for just over 2 hours, because that's when I wanted to go to bed.

I pulled the big stuff out of the stock with a slotted spoon, and then I lined a large strainer with cheesecloth and then poured the stock through the strainer into a giant measuring cup.  In the end I had about 8 cups of a rich colored stock.  So if I usually pay around $1.99 for a 16 oz. carton, and I paid $4.50 for the chicken, then I was paid $3.50.  Or I just made $8 in free stock.  Well, I did add all that stuff, but it probably wasn't $8 of stuff.  Whatever, in any case, the stock was basically free.

I'm sure it's low in salt, because I didn't add any so it would only have what I put on the bird itself and we didn't eat, but it may be on the fatty side (I wonder if including the pan drippings would add to the fat content), but I honestly don't eat that much fat as it is.  I stuck it in the fridge overnight, and there was definitley a layer of fat I could skim off the top by morning, but the whole thing had a somewhat gelatinous consistency (I know they make gelatin out of bones, maybe that's why).

Tonight I used it in a soup.

Cassoulet Soup
from, who got it from Bon Appetit
1 small onion, chopped
3 ounces kielbasa sausage or other, fully cooked smoked sausage, thinly sliced into rounds
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2/3 cup dry white wine
2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
1 15-ounce can cannellini (white kidney beans) or Great Northern beans, drained
1 1/2 cups diced leftover cooked goose, turkey or other dark poultry meat
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Sauté onion and kielbasa in heavy large saucepan over medium heat until onion is soft and sausage is light brown, about 8 minutes. Add thyme and stir 1 minute. Add wine and boil until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Mix in broth, 1 cup beans and goose or turkey. Mash remaining beans to coarse puree; add to soup. Partially cover pan and simmer soup until flavors blend, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle parsley over and serve.

I used 4 oz. of keilbasa (because it was easy to divide my 1 lb. package by 4), chicken instead of goose or turkey (that's what I had), two teaspoons of fresh thyme rather than dried (because I have it), and my gelatinous stock rather than low-salt broth (it thinned right out when warmed).   Other than that, I pretty much just followed the recipe, and oh my, was it delicious!  I've never had Cassoulet, so I can't confirm the reviews that said it tasted nothing like the real thing, but I can say it was a very enjoyable soup.  Was it better because of my stock?  I honestly have no idea (cheaper though, yes), I'll have to make it using both one time and do a taste test.

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