Tag Archives: techniques

“Stock” broker

3 Aug

Stocks are underrated. I know that it’s not the most exciting thing, but the truth is that without a good foundation like a stock your dish will taste lack-luster and flat. Now before you stop reading, keep in mind that the color white is not particularly exciting, until you go to the hardware store and see 50 different choices for white.

Basic stock is like a blank canvas. When you start with bones, water and a few vegetables, you get back a flavorful liquid that can and will enhance any dish that you add it too. It sounds like a no brainer right? Well, if it’s so simple, why are so many people wasting money on bad imitation broths and boxes? The soup aisle at the grocery store is full of cans and boxes of liquid that claim to add flavor to your dishes but, they are really just adding salt. Why else would some of them say low sodium? When you make your own stock you can regulate the salt and everything else that goes in. And for me, that is enough.

Look at the 4 main ingredients, bones, water, vegetables, and flavorings. First, bones. You want to use bones that contain a lot of gelatin. These are mostly leg, joint and back bones. Of course, anything you can add into the stock will add flavor and that is the goal. These miscellaneous items include wing tips, fish heads, and shrimp shells. Of course you’ll want to stick to one animal at a time as not to complicate the flavors too much. You also want to roast your selected bones prior to adding them to the pot. The roasting process will bring out underlying flavors.

Next, the water. Make sure the water cold and filtered. Cold water will allow the stock to come to temperature all at once and will extract the gelatin slowly.

Choose your vegetables wisely. Anything you add to the pot will add flavor. If your stock is going into some homey chicken noodle you don’t want to add ingredients like lemongrass or ginger. Of course mire poix is traditional (1 part carrot, 1 part celery, and 2 parts onions.) I like to add flavorings that will enhance my end product. For example, I just made a duck stock for duckling l’orange. I added oranges and a little fennel into the stock to up the flavor. I sometimes add garlic, and shallots, or anything else I need to use up in the fridge.

Herbs and spices work similarly to the vegetables. Traditionally, you would use a boquet garni which is peppercorns, parsley stems, and thyme wrapped in cheese cloth. I like to add leeks and rosemary to some of my stocks to really jazz things up.

Whatever the stock, you want cook it slowly, don’t let it boil or the gelatins will fall apart and the stock will be low in quality. Let your stocks cook for 2-3 hours, strain and then cool before storing.

Once you’ve started making your own stock, you’ll never go back to cans

Always thinking of the next meal


The Versatility of Roasted Chicken

21 Oct

IMG_0901There are many basic techniques that can aid one in their quest for ultimate kitchen enlightenment, however, I think that the technique for roasting a chicken is the secret key to conquest.

There are 3 main components to the perfect roasted chicken.

1. Chicken

2. Heat

3. Time

First, the chicken. What size you need is determined by how many people you are planning on feeding. If you assume that each person will eat between 1/4 and 1/2 pounds of chicken, you would want to buy a bird accordingly. If you are only feeding 2 people you might want to consider purchasing cornish game hens. The hens tend to be a bit gamier in flavor, but the roasting technique is the same. For the sake of an example I’ll use a 5 pound bird. Make sure that you note the packaging so that you know if you should be looking for a paper treasure in the chicken. It’s not a crisis if you leave the giblet in the chicken during roasting, but you are losing some of the tastiest bits to make gravy with.

Element 2: the heat. Heat is a bit relative depending on the size of the bird and if you want the skin crispy. Crispy skin is a great debate in my house. No one really eats it, but it does look beautiful when it comes out of the oven. So, the question to me in not so much about skin, but about moist delicious meat. Oh yes, I’d love both and I most certainly strive for both, but I’ll take great moist chicken meat over crispy skin any day.

With my chicken I start with the oven at 400 degrees and let it cook for 45 minutes. Then I turn the temperature down to 350 and allow it to cook for another 30 minutes. This addresses the third element, time. This is a relative cooking time as every chicken is different. For the 5 pound chicken tis would be approximately the right time, but the only way to know if you chicken is cooked through is to use a thermometer and make sure that it has reached 165 degrees. You can take it out of the oven at 155 degrees if you want since there will be some carry over cooking.

So know you have this delicious, freshly cooked chicken (or rotisserie chicken from the grocery store) what do you do with it? Well eating it with a side of mashed potatoes and green beans is a good start, but the possibilities are endless. Chicken tacos, chicken salad, stir fried chicken, BBQ chicken pizza are on the top of my list. Here’s my recipe for chicken salad:

Chicken Salad
serves 2

1/2 pound diced chicken
3 tablespoons light mayo
1/4 cup red grapes, quartered
1/8 cup celery, small diced
2 tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and serve on toasted wheat bread with romaine lettuce and sliced tomatoes

Always thinking of the next meal