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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