Friday, April 25, 2008

Fond blanc de volaille (Basic recipe for white stock)

"Which came first, the chicken or the egg?"

White stock is a combination of meat (either chicken, veal, or fish) covered with water and aromatics and simmered over gentle heat for a few hours. As mentioned in the Fish stock post, stocks are the “foundation of the kitchen”, or the fond de cuisine. Although they seem intimidating at first, they really are easy to make and require a bit of attention now and then, but the magic happens while it simmers.

Stocks are to cooking what foundations are to a house.
Auguste Escoffier

The path to a clear stock
The mark of a good stock is clarity. Here are some tips I learned during my reading up on stock.

Tips for rinsing, blanching, and simmering
• Rinse the bones under water before starting to remove impurities.
• Use cold water not hot water. Hot water makes the stock cloudy and murky.
• Some recipes call for blanching the meat or bones first (except for fish bones which are too fragile). Then drain and start with fresh, cold water. This removes any impurities on the outside. • After blanching and after the first boil, add ice. Do this before adding the vegetables. This will thicken the fat and make it easier to remove.
• After bringing the water to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer. Boiling moves the scum around making it impossible to remove. It also could make your stock greasy since the scum could emulsify (this time in a bad way) with the water.
• Don’t stir the stock or it might get cloudy and murky.
• When pouring the stock through a fine mesh strainer or chinois, ladle it instead of pouring it so that the impurities don’t get forced through the sieve by sheer force.
• After refrigerating overnight, the fat coagulates on the top making it easier to remove.

Tips for skimming
• Skim often (about every 10 minutes) to remove the scum or proteins as they rise to the surface. After awhile, there won’t be as much scum to remove.
• Add the vegetables (mirepoix) after the bones and water have come to a boil the second time so that it’s easier to remove the scum.
• Use a bouquet garni to hold all the aromatics and herbs so that you don’t skim them off with the scum. Slip the bouquet garni under a piece of meat so that it doesn’t get in the way of skimming.

Tips for flavoring
• Use the meat on the bones for extra flavor. However, to save money, just use the bones.
• Like the saying that you should never use wine you wouldn’t drink to flavor a dish, you shouldn’t add parts of vegetables that you wouldn’t eat (like carrot peels). I don’t think your stock should be like a compost bin.
• Cover the bones with water, just to cover. More water makes the stock less flavorful and diluted.
• After you’ve made the stock, you can reduce it by half for more flavor. This reduced stock can be stored in ice cube trays in the freezer.
• Keep some of the stock in a container in the freezer to start your next batch of stock. Similar to a sourdough starter, this method reinforces the base with extra flavor.

Tips for avoiding bacteria and storage
• When the stock is finished, you must cool the stock quickly to avoid bacteria growth. Bacteria love to grow between 40˚-145˚.
• To cool It quickly, pour a bunch of ice in a sink and put the bowl of strained stock on top. Stir to cool quickly.
• Another idea is to fill a freezer bag full of ice and drop it into the bowl of strained stock.
• Stock will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. It will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator if you boil it every day. It freezes well, but thaw it and bring it to a boil before using.

Recipe for white stock

from Le Cordon Bleu at Home

makes 8 cups

4-pound chicken
3 small onions
3 cloves
3 carrots
3 leeks
2 stalks celery
6 cloves garlic
4 large sprigs parsley (including stems)
2 branches thyme
1 bay leaf
10 peppercorns
1 teaspoon coarse salt
12 cups water

Rinse the bones under water before starting to remove impurities. Put bones in stock pot and cover with cold water. Blanch the bones by bringing the water to a boil. Drain and add cold water to cover the bones again.

While the chicken is blanching, trim the onions. Put the cloves in one onion. Trim the carrots and leeks. Make a bouquet garni with the celery, garlic, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and peppercorns.

When the stock has come to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Add the vegetables and the bouquet garni. Add the salt. Simmer for 1 hour, skimming about every 10 minutes. After an hour, remove the chicken and save for another use. Simmer the stock for another 1½ hours, skimming occasionally.

Ladle the stock through a fine mesh strainer. It should measure 8 cups. If it is more than 8 cups, continue reducing.

Tasting Notes
This stock has a light, neutral taste. At $3 per cup, it’s more expensive than canned, but it’s worth it. I can’t wait to use it in a sauce or soup.

. . . . . . . . . .

Running total: $376.19 + $24.45 = $400.64

Butter used so far: 4 pounds, 28 tablespoons


Anonymous said...

Just a quick note to say that I'm enjoying your blog. Beautiful pictures and I like the 'running total' - sometimes I just don't want to remember how much I've spent on making food. There are definitely many meals that would've been cheaper if I went out to a nice restaurant to eat it. But there's nothing like the satisfaction of knowing you did it on your own.

amy @ we are never full

Don Hekkala said...

i have to say that i dissagree on one thing. vegetable trimmings belong in the stock pot, carrot and onion ends, parsley stems etc.
a frugal chef can make a soup out of things some others throw away.

Anonymous said...

Your butter tally is cracking me up...I love it! Mine would probably be out of this world. I really love your blog, your photos are so lovely.

Anonymous said...

i love homemade husband makes it in bulk and freezes it in plastic bags for when we need it. as always beautiful pictures, and great posting! :)

Shari said...

Amy - thanks for dropping by, and I'm glad you're enjoying my blog. I'm finding the running total interesting when comparing it to what I would have to pay if I attended a culinary school. I know I'd learn a whole lot, and it would be worth it to get feedback and info from the chefs, but it's fun to do it on my own too.

Don - thanks for providing valuable feedback about what belongs in the stock pot. I'd only recently heard this "purist" version of stock and thought it would spark some debate! I've been making so much stock lately, but now I'll have to make another just to compare the differences of adding trimmings and not adding them. :)

Rebekka - I'm surprised the butter tally isn't higher! I thought the French cuisine angle would put the butter over the top, but I'm pleasantly surprised. Now, if I start working through a pastry class, then I know I'll see the butter tally go through the roof! Thanks for dropping by.

Shari said...

Missy - You're lucky to have someone to make the stock for you! I'm running out of containers for all this stock I'm making...veal stock is coming up. Thanks for the tip about using freezer bags!

Anonymous said...

Have you ever tried Pam Anderson's method of making chicken stock? It makes EXCELLENT stock in about an hour and a half.

iGurman said...

Interesting, very nice. Advice I read those articles and I decided to also contribute. I am of Slovak republic and I also site - a blog focusing on recipes for cooking. See. All good. Page to be translated through Google translate.