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Thursday, January 19, 2012

How to Make Poultry Stock

Hel-looo, Big Boy! You’re lookin’ good! I am, of course, referring to the turkey carcass in my freezer. It’s time to make some soup! I’ve loosely addressed this topic once before, in a whimsical posting called Zoop! (May 30, 2011). But now it’s time to get serious. I’m squeezing the minutes to write this blog, so will feature only Poultry Stock (made from turkey or chicken) just now. Over the next few months, as time allows, I’ll broaden this post to include Beef Stock, Fish Stock, and Vegetable Stock. I hope you’ll check back as I make those additions.
Just now, I’m keen to prepare some delicious stock, or broth, from that carcass in the freezer. I’ll make a quick soup once we’ve done that, but the real reason I want a good supply of stock is that Chinese New Year is coming up on Monday! Using some of the broth I’m making today, I want to offer you a great Hot ’n’ Sour Soup for Friday’s posting, an easy Chow Mein recipe on Saturday, a luscious Broccoli Chop Suey on Sunday, and a fabulous, simple-to-make Pork Hoisin on Monday. Fortunately, each of those recipes is quick and uncomplicated - exactly what I need as I multi-task to blog them for you! Pull up a kitchen chair, Dollinks! Let’s get to work!
How to Make Poultry Stock: 

Toss chicken or turkey carcass with bits of meat and skin still clinging to it into large pot. If you can find some feet not currently in use by a chicken, they make the very best stock! For depth of flavor and added nutrients, be sure to include vegetables and seasonings in the mixture. I normally use a quartered whole onion, a stalk or two of celery, one or two carrots, a couple of parsnips, and whatever else I have in the produce drawer with the exception of strongly flavored vegetables such as fennel (anise), brightly colored vegetables such as beets, or strongly fragrant herbs such as mint. I also toss into the stock pot all the vegetable peelings and odds and ends I’ve saved and frozen since the last time I made stock. You’ll want a very large lidded pot for this: My stock pot holds 16 quarts. 
To the vegetables and to your carcass (um ... to your poultry carcass, Dollinks), add cold - not hot - water. Cold water draws more collagen from the bones, giving your stock extra body and flavor. Turkey or chicken skin adds flavor, too; later in the process, we’ll skim off the fat it produces. Because my stock pot is so large, I use a lot of seasoning - usually a good tablespoon of salt, a generous amount of chicken bouillon concentrate, and about a tablespoon of coarsely ground black pepper. 
Cover the pot and bring the stock to a boil, placing a toothpick between the lid and the pot to release the steam and to prevent the stock from boiling over. Keep a close watch: As soon as the stock begins to boil, reduce the heat to simmer at a low setting 3-to-4 hr. Remove the stock from the stove top and cool it to room temperature. Strain it through a sieve to remove the vegetables, bones, and skin that have yielded their flavor and nutrients for your benefit. 
Chill the broth overnight (or, in the Time Zone and at the Wintry Latitude Where I Live, stick it outdoors for 5 min.) Now skim off the fat. If the soup is very cold, the fat will form a solid crust and will be easy to remove. If the fat is semi-solid, it will cling to a metal spoon. If the fat remains more or less liquid, strain the stock through a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth. Dividing the broth into smaller quantities before you chill it will help solidify the fat. 
With most of the fat removed, strain the stock again to clarify it of any bits of parsley or carrot that might remain. You are now ready to package, date, and freeze the broth, or to use it immediately in any recipe calling for soup stock. With the poultry carcass and spent vegetables removed, I generally get 8-to-10 qt. of stock for my efforts - a tremendous yield for having done very little work.

My stock pot is the size of a Volkswagen
Add cold water to vegetables, poultry carcass, and skin

I freeze vegetable ends and peelings until needed

Simmer 3-to-4 hr., straining bones and veggies from broth
Skim fat from chilled, strained broth
My poultry carcass and leftover veggies
produced 24 c. of stock at no cost,
bound for the freezer until I need it!

Poultry stock is useful in making soups, stews, rice, risottos, and gravy. Setting aside the 8 cups I need for tomorrow’s Hot ’n’ Sour Soup, I used some of the stock to make a quick tomato soup and froze what was left. I didn’t do anything fancy - no frying onions and garlic, as one usually does - but simply tossed what I found in the fridge directly into the pot. My slap-dash recipe follows in the post below!

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