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Nov 13, 2006 12:41 AM

Chicken stock question..again

Im doing a 12 hr chicken stock and have been adding water to keep the level up? is this wrong, or should I let it boil down...I read you are supposed to keep the water level an inch above where the chiicken is, but no recepies I can find specifically say to add water..Im confused

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  1. As someone who has never really read or follow a stock recipe, I don't know what the proper way to do things is, but here's what I've learned, either from observation or experience: A little bit of water cooking off is fine and normal, but you should end up with, more or less, the same amount of liquid with which you started.

    My mother lets her stocks cook for 12 hrs (or some other amount I find too ridiculous to tackle myself). She says that you shouldn't be adding a lot of extra liquids if you're maintaining constant simmer, maybe an extra cup worth throughout the entire process. Since I can't maintain a constant simmer, I always end up adding more water than that, and while the end results aren't as good as mom's, it's still decent to warrant the loss of 6 hrs of my life.

    1. If you're goal is clear stock, you should be cooking the stock uncovered at the barest possible simmer, starting with an abundance of water, and, over time, losing a bit to evaporation.

      Clarity is not that important to me. I do take steps to keep the temperature at a bare simmer, but I cover all my stocks while cooking. With a very slow simmer and a cover, evaporation becomes much less of an issue- once the right temp is found, you can pretty much walk away and forget about it until the time is up.

      1. No, you shouldn't be adding water. Assuming you started with water a couple inches above the chicken, when the level goes down it seems a better idea to just STOP and call it done. I've never cooked a 12-hr stock (and don't see the need). 4 hours tops for the chicken, with mirepoix, etc in an hour before the end.
        And if you're cooking at a low simmer, your liquid loss through evaporation and skimming shouldn't be all that much.