Restaurants make and use incredible quantities of chicken stock. In the kitchen at Chanterelle I literally cannot count the number of times a day we dip a ladleful or pour a flavorful stream of it into a pot. A good homemade chicken stock is essential to anyone who likes to cook and enjoys well-prepared food. For the sake of convenience, low-sodium canned chicken broth can be used in most recipes in this book, but the truth is that any dish prepared with your own homemade stock will taste better. The simple flavorings in this chicken stock are my version of mirepoix. In the French cooking tradition this is a mixture of coarsely chopped aromatic vegetables, usually carrots, onions or leeks, and celery; turnips or parsnips are sometimes included as well. The vegetables enhance and provide flavor but are not intended to become part of the final dish. I don’t add celery here because I dislike it. Feel free to add a rib or two if you like.
If you make roast chicken or chicken stock fairly often, it takes little extra effort to have a supply of rendered chicken fat (schmaltz) on hand for use in recipes such as chopped chicken liver and borscht. There’s always surplus fat to be trimmed from whole chickens, especially from the neck, body cavity, and tail areas. I save the bits of fat in the freezer, adding to my cache until I have at least a cup or two. To render fat, defrost it slightly, cut into ½- or 1-inch pieces, and place them in a heavy skillet or saucepan over low heat. Add about ¼ cup water (to prevent the fat from sticking) and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the fat has liquefied and the solids have shrunk and become crispy brown bits, about 10 to 15 minutes. Let the fat cool slightly before straining it through a finemesh strainer into a storage container with a tight-fitting cover. (In Yiddish the crunchy pieces left behind are called gribenes, and in the old days before cholesterol was declared the enemy they were considered quite a treat.) Store rendered fat in the refrigerator for a month or in the freezer for up to a year. To render duck or goose fat, follow the same procedure.
The easiest, most effective way to degrease homemade stock is to strain it into a clean container and refrigerate it overnight. The fat will rise to the top, forming a solid layer that’s easy to remove. At the restaurant, when we’re in too much of a hurry to wait for the stock to chill, we use another method. Before we strain the stock, we place the pot off center on the burner and turn up the heat so the stock reaches a low boil. The liquid in the side of the pot that’s resting on the burner will boil; the rest won’t. Due to some mysterious law of physics, the fat from the liquid on the boiling side will move to the other side, where it can be carefully ladled off. After degreasing, if you won’t be using the entire amount of stock, simply strain it into a clean container and refrigerate. Any fat that remains can be removed the next day.
Make Ahead RecipeYes
Type of Dishstock
- 10 pounds chicken necks, backs, and trimmings
- 3 large carrots, unpeeled, very roughly chopped
- 2 large onions, unpeeled, very roughly chopped
- 2 heads garlic, loose outer skins removed, cut crosswise in half
- 9 to 10 quarts cold water, or enough to cover
Combine all the ingredients in a stockpot that’s big enough to hold everything comfortably; the water should cover the bones and vegetables by 3 to 4 inches. Bring to a boil over medium heat, skimming the surface as the foam rises to the top, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for at least 3 hours (4 is better). Add water if the stock seems to be reducing too much, and skim occasionally.
Remove the pot from the heat, let it cool, then strain the stock through a finemesh sieve into one or more storage containers. The stock will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 6 months. Skim the fat off the top before proceeding with a recipe.
2000 David Waltuck and Melicia Phillips