Monday, December 22, 2014

My default way to say, "go to the bathroom," is, "go potty." Yes, that includes when I reference myself.

Do you have childish vocabulary that you use on a regular basis now that you've had kids?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Appearance vs Character

Appearance is fantasy of the present; character is everlasting truth.

Chicken stock - can I make it taste, well, more chickeney?

I'm doing a cooking experiment. Well, I suppose it's not exactly an experiment because I'm not using a control group. Unless the trials can be a week or two apart.

I digress!

To get cheap poultry, I have been buying and butchering whole chickens on a regular basis. After taking the chicken apart, I make chicken stock from the leftovers.

My typical recipe and process:

1 whole chicken carcass, including trimmed fat
Kosher salt
8 cups water
1/2-1 onion (smaller onion, use the whole thing. Large onion, as little as half.)
1 celery stalk, with leaves, if possible, rough chop on the bias at a 45 degree angle*
1 carrot, washed, not peeled; same as celery
(1 parsnip) prepared same as carrot
6 peppercorns
*Cutting the vegetables in this manner exposes more of the flavorful inside of the vegetable.

Put bones and fat into large stockpot into 300 degree oven. Roast up to 3 hours.

Remove from oven and put on the stove over medium heat. The bones and skin will be brown and there should be a nice fond developed on the bottom.

When a few drops of water sizzle (not crackle - too hot!) pour in enough water to deglaze: pour in just enough water to cover the bottom with little depth. Scrape bottom of the pot with your wooden spoon until all of the bones and skin have come free and all of the bits have combined with the shallow water. The bottom, including the corners, should look clean and the liquid should be a deep gold.

Add the rest of the water, add the vegetables, bring to simmer and cook down until liquid is reduced in half, stirring and turning the bones over occasionally.

Pour into a non-reactive (ceramic or stainless steel) bowl through a sieve and cool then store. (Winter is great - just put a lid on it and put into the cold for a little while, or overnight.)

So that is how I usually do it. Once in a while, though, I'll accidentally cook it down too much. For instance, tonight I was watching a show and checking out Facebook when I realized that the liquid had been cooking for a while.

Sure enough, it probably had cooked down to two cups. Yikes! All that work for two cups! So, the experiment was born.

When making french onion soup, you caramelize onions, but deglaze them over and over, adding in liquid each time.

Well, what if I keep adding in liquid and cooking it down? Will I get a richer stock?

Answer: I think so, but I didn't do it scientifically.

It came out nice and jellied with terrific flavor. Where I went wrong:
1) I didn't measure the ingredients. Weight of the carcass and vegetables. If I really wanted to get anal, I could measure the fat vs bones. No, not going to do that.
2) I have no idea how long, exactly, that I roasted the bones.
3) I did not time how long I cooked each stage.
4) I did not measure how much liquid remained at each stage
5) I did not taste the stock at each stage to see whether or not the taste was improving.

Overall, I think it was successful. Next time, I'll taste the stock more often and keep track of the cooking time. Give it a try, let me know what happens.