Some time ago, I recommended checking out Jason Sandeman’s Well Done Chef! web site. Jason is a talented writer and a real chef who believes in real food. In addition to writing about food and issues related to food, Jason has quite a few recipes available on his site. Nothing like free lessons from a pro.
He recently offered to write an occasional guest column for the Fat Head blog, including instructions on how to prepare real food. I think it’s a great idea, because I sometimes receive emails from people asking for specific suggestions. I don’t have much to tell them, other than mentioning some low-carb cookbooks my wife uses.
Jason’s timing was also perfect (shouldn’t a chef have good timing?) because I usually write one of my bi-weekly posts on Thursday nights, and I’ll be away in Santa Barbara this Thursday. Drs. Mike and Mary Dan Eades are hosting a Fat Head night: a showing of the film for a group of their friends who haven’t seen it yet, followed by a Q & A with the writer/director. I’ll try to remember to snap some pictures.
So I’m stepping out, and Jason is stepping in. Here’s his guest column:
Curing Franken Stock! How to Make Your Own Chicken Stock
You might be thinking to yourself that you would like to make something out of that magazine you saw at the dentist’s office. Perhaps you need to make rice, and are reaching for that Uncle B’s Rice-A-trocious and have a gnawing sense inside you that all is not good. Perhaps you might even go as far as to look at the ingredients in the can:
Chicken Stock, Chicken Fat, Salt, Autolyzed Yeast. Mono-sodium Glutamate, Dextrose, Hydrolyzed Wheat Gluten, Corn Oil, Flavoring and Hydrolyzed Soy and Corn Protein.
Sounds just like what Grandma used to make, right? Here, a little information:
Autolyzed wheat: Basically dead yeast cells whose enzymes are broken down into easier to digest components. It is also known as a flavor enhancer akin to MSG.
Monosodium Glutamate: There have been so many reports railing against the evils of this additive. What most people do not know is that it naturally occurs in nature. For instance, seaweed has a lot. Does it belong in chicken broth? Only if you are trying to pass off water as something “wholesome and nutritious.” Modern MSG is manufactured through fermentation of sugar canes and starches.
Dextrose: Where else can you find corn byproducts in your food?
Hydrolyzed Wheat Gluten: This byproduct of wheat is used to give “body” to the product, disguising the thin, insipid nature of the broth. Nice!
Corn oil: Another by-product (way of getting rid of) of corn. Do we need it? Certainly not. We have to keep those farmers employed though, so we may as well put it in there.
Flavoring: What does this mean, anyway? Do we really want to know?
Hydrolyzed Corn Protein: One would say that this is a synonym for “MSG”. We definitely need more to make this taste anything like broth.
Hydrolyzed Soy Protein: Well, we have done everything else to fill the “need” for corn, so now we are onto soy! See, this by-product adds “texture” to the broth. Yum.
The reason this is available to the general public is that the manufacturers are doing us a favor. See, you do not know how to make the real stuff, so you must buy the canned stuff. I even get Kraft™ magazine which tells me to use the stuff.
I am here to change that for today.
There is good news about this and bad news. Let’s do the bad first, shall we? You will not be able to make this in 5 minutes. It is going to take a while, at least 4 hours.
That is not so bad though, is it? Set aside a Sunday morning to start this, and then we get into the good news: This is so easy, that an 8-year-old can do it, given the directions below. Once you start the process, you can let it happily simmer on the stove for the given time, and have great results. People will be flocking around your house to see what you are cooking that smells like Grandma’s did on a Sunday.
You will also have way more than a 10.5 oz (300 mL) can, and you can freeze it for when you need it next. You will be breaking free of Franken-Foods.
Let’s get started.
Chicken Stock (Broth)
Makes 1 gallon (4 liters)
- 2 chicken carcasses cut into 1 inch pieces
- cold water to cover
- 1 onion, peeled, sliced into quarters
- 2 ribs celery, chopped coarsely
- 1 knot of ginger, halved
- 1/2 bulb garlic
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 bunch thyme
- 20 peppercorns
1. Wash chicken pieces in plenty of cold water; drain.
2. Place into pot and cover with cold water.
3. Place over medium-high heat and bring to the boiling point.
4. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer (the lowest your stove will go!) and leave to simmer for 4 hours.
5. Skim the top of foam and scum. (These are impurities, and you will not like them anyway!)
6. After three hours of gentle simmering, place onion, celery, ginger, garlic, bay leaves, thyme and peppercorns on the top.
7. Simmer for another hour, skimming when necessary.
8. Remove from heat and let the pot rest for 15 minutes so the bones can fall to the bottom.
9. Ladle the stock out through a fine strainer into a container. You may choose to use cheesecloth. Give yourself a star if this is the case.
10. Cool the stock completely.
11. Refrigerate and use within 4 days, otherwise pack it up, label it and freeze for up to 6 months.
After you have that, there is no reason to go back to the Franken Stock. Your dishes will automatically be better with them.
If you ever come across a recipe that calls for a can of stock, then you can use this interchangeably. You will notice the difference.
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What about adding a splash of vinegar at some point, to help leach calcium from the bones? Is this a good idea? I’ve heard that recommended before, especially for women (especially for pregnant women). Will it change the flavor any? How or when should you do that? …inquiring minds want to know…
being a complete boob in the kitchen, I am not sure how one goes about cutting up an entire chicken carcass into 1 inch pieces? By carcass, do you mean an entire chicken,with all the meat and skin? Sounds like a lot of work to chop that sucker up, especially if you gotta chop all those bones up too…
Being a newbie to doing this – when you say chicken carcass, do you mean one that’s already been cooked and mostly picked clean of the meat? Or are we talking a whole raw chicken?
Thanks! Can’t wait to cook up a batch of this!
Welcome guest blogger chef, Jason! I look forward to your recipes.
This was a great post. I use a recipe much like this one when I make my bi-monthly stock (I put vinegar in the broth in the beginning and let sit for an hour. It pulls the calcium and other minerals out of the bones so it’s in the stock and available). Sometimes I use my crockpot, on low, if I don’t want the stove on all day (like on Fridays when I’m at work). People definitely notice the difference when you cook with homemade stock/broth. I’ve always been told that our house smells delicious. Plus, you know you’re getting plenty of the good stuff to your family. The chicken meat leftover from the stock is pretty good for chicken salad – or pretty much anything else! I’ve also found that homemade broth/stock also helps you digest your food better.
Tom, I hope your movie showing went over good.
Great recipe, I’m drooling to give it a try. We love home-made stocks at our house. Apart from not sounding like a chemistry experiment, home-made stocks are loaded nutrients, particularly minerals from the bones and gelatin from the connective tissue (makes for happy tummy). And the taste can’t be beat. Here’s an easy favorite at our house:
I often make “quick-and-dirty” chicken stock. Start with a couple of pounds of chicken wings, and roast them for an hour or so at 350, until the skin gets brown and crispy. This goes in the pot with mirepoix (mixture of diced onions, carrots, and celery) which you can often get prepared in the produce section. Add water to cover, bring to a boil, and simmer 6-12 hours.
This stock forms the base of all kinds of good stuff. If you’re low-carb, sauces can help bring variety to your meals. Made with your home-made stock, they also bring a load of micronutrients which can be hard to otherwise obtain from food. We like clay pot chicken. The clay pot is just a large unglazed roasting vessel which you soak in water. This allows you to cook at high temperatures without drying out your meat.
To roast a chicken, let your chicken sit out for a few hours (this helps it to cook faster and more evenly). Soak the pot for 15 minutes. Rinse the chicken inside and out and pat dry, and if you got some giblets, hang on to them. Rub the chicken with a healthy amount of butter. I also put some better under the skin of the breasts. Coarse chop enough onions and carrots (leave the skin on the carrots!) to cover the bottom of the pot. Add about 2 cups of stock, and the giblets. Put the chicken in the pot, cover, and place in a cold oven. Set the oven to 470F and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, then check the temp (should be 165 in the deepest part of the thigh). If the skin isn’t crispy enough for you, put it back in uncovered until the desired brownness is achieved. Remove the chicken from the pot and let rest while you make gravy.
Gravy is dead simple. Harvest the liquid from the pot and place in a saucepan. I usually boil it for awhile to reduce and concentrate the flavor, maybe 15 minutes. Add about 1/2 cup heavy cream and butter to your heart’s content, along with salt and pepper to taste. I thicken with xanthan gum, which is a plant fiber. A little xanthan gum goes a long way, and it takes a few minutes to cook in and actually thicken. So I sprinkle in 1/4 tsp or so, whisk, and let boil for a few minutes. Repeat until the gravy is thick enough.
Carve the chicken and serve with the gravy and veggies from the pot.
I frequently make my own stock, buying bone-in skin-on chicken and turkey, then removing the meat and freezing the carcasses until I have enough to fill a stockpot.
I have also found that freezing the stock in ice cubes makes it a snap to measure out frozen stock and add a bit more without having to defrost a whole batch. The cubes keep really well in Freezer bags.
The best stock I ever had came from the bones of a grass-fed cow, great flavour without having to add any mystery “flavourings”! 😀
Yeah, good stuff. I’ve been making my own stock lately using the recipes from ‘Nourishing Traditions’. How much better to be eating “real food”.
I made some the other day but without a recipe. I used rotisserie chicken carcasses I saved up but I put vinegar in it and an onion. Then I also made a broth with beef bones the next day.
@Tamara – I have never really added vinegar to my stock, mainly because of culinary tradition. While vinegar helps the calcium extract from the bones, you end up skimming it off the top as an impurity. A mark of a good stock is full body, flavor, clearness, and gelatine. I will give it a try next time around to see what happens.
@mrfreddy, @musajen – Once you are done with your carcass, be it raw or roasted, you just get your biggest knife that you have, and wack it to pieces on your cutting board. It is a great way to get frustrations out when you need to.
@Holly – Thank you. The crock pot is an excellent way to go about making stock, as you have a consistent low heat. The great part is the set-and-forget. I imagine that your house would smell awesome when you get home from your errands/work.
@Dave – Good comments over all. Indeed, chicken wings are great for stock, as they hold a lot of collegen in the wing tips. 50 years ago, that was what went into the pot. They did not have buffalo wings then, see.
@Wanda – You have it right on the money. Not only do you usually save this way, but you also know you have enough carcasses stored up when they fly out at you when you open your refigerator door.
@Debbie – I have not heard of the source, “Nourishing Traditions.” I will have to look that one up.
@nonegiven – Recipes are great, but it is the Technique that matters. It looks like you have found your way on that. Good job!
Our kitchen has essentially one rule. Everything from scratch.
We have a roast a couple of times a week usually, after which the remains become boiled to make stock (sometimes for sauces, usually for soup).
Occasionally I’ll get fancy with celery, garlic etc. But I find that just bones (chicken, lamb, oxtails) go fine boiling by themselves with dried herbs (easy, and when you boil them for hours they are ok). Bacon hocks are fine by themselves.
In saying that, when the soups and sauces are made they get plenty of celery and garlic and ginger and onion etc…
And I would say it does take 5 minutes to make. You don’t have to watch the pot boil. Hack stuff up (5 min) then you can knit or play guitar or prune trees or whatever when it’s simmering. You just have to make sure your 5 min work to make the stock is at least 4hrs before you need it.
I don’t think my wife has opened a can of stock in years. But I think she’ll probably try some of those ingredients Jason suggested next time she makes stock.
The recipe and all the added suggestions sound wonderful.. Thanks for sharing, everyone!
@Tony – I find that the addition of what we call “mirepoix” that is, onions, carrots, celery really imparts a flavor to the bones, and sets it apart from something that is just, bones. You are correct about only really taking 5 minutes to start it. The only thing is it is not “instant” as we are so want to have.
Bacon hocks, that is a different story. I love the smokey hocks, and I love to make a mean soup with cranberry beans. But perhaps that is a post for another day…
Thanks Jason. I’ll make some next week. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a while.
Something else I do is to save the remaining sauce from cooking a casserole or stew, strain it and freeze it to use as a base for time. You just need to add more stock or red wine from time-to-time.
Look forward to your next guest ‘spot’ here.
@AnnieNZ – Saving that “liquid” gold is a must! It seems like we spend so much time adding different products to our dishes to enhance the flavor, when the addition of red wine or stock, scraping the brown bits from the bottom, and gentle reduction more than make up a good flavor base. Plus, the dishes are easier to clean afterwords!
@Ellen – My pleasure, and thank you everyone for sharing as well!
mrfreddy, don’t bother with cutting the thing up. Just grab a whole chicken, or a carcass and throw it in the pot. Once the meat is don, pull it out, strip it off the bones, and throw the bones back in until the stock is done. It’s a lot easier that way.
In this past year I’ve really taken to keeping stock in the freezer, and the ice cube tray thing someone else mentioned is the key to it. You don’t have to defrost a quart if you want to use some. Sometimes I’ll grab a cube to toss in some veggies I am cooking.
During the winter I eat more soups so I tend to make stock with whole chickens and save the meat for soup or whatever else. When the weather is warmer, I de-bone the whole thing to grill and save the bones for making stock.
Ok double post, I know, but I think it’s so sad that something like this used to be commonplace and now hardly anyone does it anymore. Instead, we are eating frozen, microwavable crap with 57 ingredients.
I’ve got a garden going right now. I have a bowl full of fresh vegetables sitting on the kitchen counter; way more than I can consume before they go bad. I told my roommate to eat all he wanted because of that.
Guess what I saw him do yesterday? With GARDEN FRESH 6 bell peppers, 2 tomatoes, 3 squash, a few cups of green beans and a cucumber, you know what he did? Anyone?
HE OPENED A CAN OF F’ING CORN!
I guess the corn farmers will love him for it, but his liver won’t.
Re: Derrick. I would take some strips of beef and brown with the peppers, tomatoes and beans (+ some onion and fresh chili if available + salt and oregano or cilantro). Hell, if the squash was there I’d probably cube some of that and put it in. Then add a bottle of beer and boil down until sauce is thick consistancy. Serve with avocado and sour cream next to strips of the cucumber.
I’m hungry now.
Thank you, Mr. Sandeman, that sounds great — I never thought of adding veggies or spices to the cooking stock. Duh. One thing I do is toss it all into the pan without water and fry everything a little while first, not only does it seem to give it a richer flavor but there is lots of nice rendered fat to pour off and use in other dishes. Thanks again!
I use lemon juice instead of vinegar to help get the minerals into the broth.
You mentioned MSG coming from seaweed, which is true. However, that’s not the whole story. Glutamate is found in most living things, but when they die, when organic matter breaks down, the glutamate molecule breaks apart. This can happen on a stove when you cook meat, over time when you age a parmesan cheese, by fermentation as in soy sauce or under the sun as a tomato ripens. When glutamate becomes L-glutamate, that’s when things get “delicious.” Also, you said that “there have been so many reports railing against the evils of this [MSG] additive.” From a paleo-diet perspective, I wonder what to make of this since it’s been discovered that the human tongue does have separate receptors for L-glutamate. In other words, we seem to have evolved to appreciate the naturally occurring MSG in most of our foods.
A few more tips on making stock. As mentioned before add a bit of vinegar to the mix and let it sit for 30-60 mins before cooking. This allows more of the nutrients in the bones to leach out into the stock.
One thing I like to do is to take my strained stock then pour it into muffin pans and/or ice cube trays. then freeze this. Pop them out and put them in a zipplock and into your freezer. You can then use smaller amounts in different recipes. 1 muffin tin size is about 1/4 to 1/3 cup.
This is a great recipe I look forward to reading more. I have a general life rule for myself. If I use something in my lab then I try to avoid eating foods that contain it ( I am a masters student of genetics). I hadn’t looked into the details before but i just had an aha moment reading the ingredients to store bought stock.
Yeast extract. We use that in the lab to make a broth to grow ecoli. Yum. It suspiciously smells like chicken soup.
I think store bought stock may be added to my list of non food items.