Sunday Nights with Thomas Keller

So tonight we made a great Armagnac Chicken recipe from a cookbook we have discussed in the past.

Then we were left with a lot of bones. I have been wanting to try making homemade stock for a while. It is the basis of so many dishes and sauces I can think of. And what a great way to reuse parts of foods you already have. So since we are basically acting like Julie Powell with her Julia Childs obsession, I consulted Ad Hoc at Home.

So first you want to really wash all the bones and remove all the food particles. This took me a while, but you really want to make sure you don't end up with cloudy stock. You rinse the chicken bones in cold water, and then put them in a large stockpot and cover them in cold water. You can put the pot to the side of the burner as this creates a current, and makes it easier to skim the fat throughout the process.
You gradually bring the liquid to a simmer, and continually skim the pot. Once you get it going, add a whole bunch of ice cubes which will help solidify the fat, and skim that off. Then add onions, leeks, carrots, and a bay leaf.

Again continually skimming, you let everything simmer for 40 minutes.

Then turn off the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes letting the particles settle to the bottom. Then create an ice bath and ladle the stock through a strainer into the bowl, placing it over the ice bath and stirring it occasionally.

I can't tell how it will go over in dishes yet, but it smells really good and has thickened quite a bit. I can't wait for soups, chicken pot pie, all kind of stove top dishes with pan sauces. This is really exciting and to think it came from the leftover parts of the carcass of the chicken. The gelatin from the bones is what thickens it, and it almost feels like a weird science experiment. 

I will say that peeling off all the food particles from the bones felt like a good deal of intimacy between me and the chicken. And while I didn't notice while we were carving our dinner, you can pretty clearly spot the chicken's head. I was a vegetarian for about 10 years, and this slightly freaked me out momentarily. Scott came by and ripped the head off and said "there ya go!". But then there was this big vein sticking out of the top. I was able to get over it enough to create homemade stock which we can freeze in small increments and use in tons of soup, sauces, and dishes. It's going to be great, and to think you have the bones anyway, why not make use of them?


  1. I am loving your blog, and I was always curious about how chicken stock is made. However, I've gone mostly vegetarian (can't QUITE commit - but I only cook vegetarian), so I'm glad to know that it's not just me that gets freaked out around animal parts. How did you overcome it when you started cooking meat and getting down and dirty with bones and whatnot? I ask since I know I'll eventually cook non-veggie dishes for others.

  2. Well I will first say that in the same cookbook I used (Ad Hoc at Home) there are several vegetarian stock recipes (including a mushroom one that sounded really good).

    Maybe I have started to view cooking as slightly a science project type activity? When I was fourteen years old I worked at a pizza place and could barely handle steak without crying. I guess there is some compartmentalizing involved, but you see something that looks like the animal's head and it feels like a whole different story. I wonder how many people could admired a "beautiful" steak if the head was still attached...

    It also kind of goes along with which parts of animals seem ok to eat and which don't. What is really the difference between eating glands and muscles and yet so many people freak out about sweetbreads and such. It's totally a mental thing and somehow hard to explain.

  3. Also glad you like the blog! :)


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