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Oct 12, 2006 12:13 AM

Again with the Chicken Stock Questions...

I really enjoyed all of the good advice on the recent thread about chicken stocks. It was timely, as we'd just accumulated enough bones to make a new batch. I diligently simmered it for 7 hours and it came out very nicely. I refrigerated it as usual to get the fat off when it chills at the top.Thing is, this didn't happen with the new more unctuous stock. Does the fat somehow become emulsified in the more gelatinous stock?

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  1. i made a very good dark chicken stock recently. i chilled it and skimmed the fat as well. mine was very gelatinous and there was a clear layer of fat on top, so i don't think that would be the issue...

    1. Enough 'bones' to make a new batch? Any skin involved? Bones, by themselves aren't going to give you much fat.

      From the research that I've done, gelatin is a very weak emulsifier, so you might have some emulsified fat incorporated into the stock, but I doubt very much.

      1. I've never done it with chicken stock but over-reducing veal stock before you have removed the fat can cause some of the fat to emulsify.

        I guess the chemistry with chicken is similar.

        With my veal stock, the solution was to freeze it in small pots as usual and, when having partially defrosted it at the time of use, peel off and bin the emulsified layer on top.

        Elsewhere on the subject of chicken stock, there is far too much on this board and elsewhere suggesting that you can get a decent result using the carcases of roasting chickens. That is plainly wrong because you are using an immature animal that has not lived sufficiently long to develop much flavour. You are far better off using mature animals, known as boiling fowl in the UK, normally retired egg producers, and gently simmering them for a long time. Doing it overnight is the best use of time but you need to become expert in controlling temeperatures before doing so. Otherwise, there is some risk of boiling it dry which makes the most awful mess of your stockpot. And forget the stuff about adding any tomato product -its completely unnecessary. As is adding celery, carrots etc. Thats what you need for a vegetable stock, not a meat stock. If you want those flavours, add them after you have made the stock.

        6 Replies
        1. re: alexjames

          Yeah, I've reduced a stock too far in the pot and the fat I hadn't skimmed off did get emulsified into the resulting demi- when I decanted it, the demi was cloudy, but very tasty.

          I will have to disagree with you on the subject of the age of the carcasses- as discussed around here before, the primary flavor of a stock comes from the meat and the body of the stock comes from the collagen in the bones (joints). Therefore, to increase the meatiness (chickeny-ness) of a stock using intensly flavored meats from aged animals is a good choice- but to increase the body, using younger animals' bones is the key- think about arthritis- older animals have worn out joints- veal bones have significantly more collagen/gelatin than beef or ox bones (oxtail with its many joints is an exception).

          To respond to Procrastibaker's original question- if you skimmed well enough during your simmer, you just won't have that much fat left!- I'm particularly proud of my skimming, I rarely have to scrape more than a fine layer off of my stocks.

          1. re: lunchbox


            I'm interested in your point on the relative yields of collagen between younger and older animals.

            My most recent batch was made entirely from the carcases of old girls. Or was judging by the size of them. Despite being a triple stock, it does lack body but does taste wonderful. Methinks I'll chuck in a few younger animals in my next batch.
            Lack of body aint really a problem with me because I can always rectify by adding a small amount of veal stock or demi. But that is probably not the optimum use of such a valuable ingredient.

            Congratulations on being an indefatigable skimmer. I realise that I should do so but I'm far too lazy. And asleep most of the time anyway. What are your arrangements for doing a night shift of skimming around mine when the next batch of stock gets into production?

            1. re: alexjames

              Hi Alexjames-
              Yeah, I'm a skimming nerd- I ususally make stocks on lazy sundays or on days off so I can hover over the pot obsessively. If I'm making a stock I don't care about clarifying, I will let it go overnight unskimmed or while I'm at work. I am pretty good at making consumme if I MUST have clear-as-glass stock. I have a reletively small and reletively full freezer so I usually make stock, strain it and reduce it all in one day, or use a significant amount of it for a specific purpose on the same day I make it.

              Scott123- You're right- there just isn't that much collagen in bird bones- I, too usually make a 2x or 3x strength stock out of as many different birds as I can get my hands on (usually 1/2 chix, 1/3 duck, and whatever pheasant, quail, or guinea hen bones I've gathered)- I know the skin has some collagen, too, but I just can't NOT eat the skin- whenever I buy a duck, whatever skin isn't on the plate is being fried up for cracklings. Big fan of tossing a few feet in as needed, I ususally shy away from extra packaged gelatin unless I'm doing real chaudfroid work (wow- haven't done that in AGES). My Poultry stock reductions are usually strong enough to bouce quarters off of!

            2. re: lunchbox

              Lunchbox, as I have mentioned in previous threads, poultry bones are not a good source of collagen, regardless of the age of the animal. At least not when compared to poultry skin.

              Alex, if you you want the best of both worlds, body and flavor, stick with your old birds but add some chicken feet. Also, rather than using precious veal stock to supplement the body of your chicken stock, try adding some gelatin. Gelatin, depending on what form you use, has some taste issues, but as long as you have a nice, strong tasting stock and you use a small amount of gelatin, the taste of the gelatin will not be discernible. I've done this successfully on a few occasions.

              In addition to supplementing weakly bodied stocks with gelatin, I've also successfully taken dark roast chicken drippings, added gelatin to them, and created stock from those as well.

              And, speaking of collagen extraction, you are simmering your stocks for longer than 9 hours, correct? For an older animal, I would even go as long as 12.

              1. re: scott123


                I'm getting a tad confused on the collagen thing.

                I use the whole bird minus head, neck and feet. So a few square yards of skin would have gone into my latest triple - about 45lb of animals. So is it feet/skin or younger animals. Seeing as it is probably impossible to specify young boiling fowl (I do not wish to waste a roaster or two) methinks I'll try the feet idea. I'm aware that it works with calves feet so why not chicken.

                Subbing in gelatin is a good idea but I would count that as cheating thus a no go for me.

                My simmering times are compliant. Generally late afternoon until I get my arse out of bed the next morning. That would be 12 or 14 hours.

                1. re: alexjames

                  Yes, use the chicken feet. It has the most collagen than another other part of the chicken.

          2. I did include skin in the stock and I think you are probably right about the partial emlusification. I will try to remove the layer when I defrost. As for using older chickens, while I can see your point, for me buying a separate chicken for stock defeats the purpose of using as much of the animal I buy as possible. I'll trade the perhaps less full flavor for the economic benefit of making my chicken do double duty.

            1. Congrats on your successful stock, but I hope that you didn't throw the disk of congealed chicken fat away. That is very close to what Jewish cooks call schmaltz, and highly valued for sautéing veggies and other tasks.