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Feb 2, 2009 11:51 AM

Skimming your stock...

I probably do lots of things wrong with my stocks but they always come out tasting great so I don't care. I know I'm always told to skim the stock every 20 minutes (and I don't)...those impurities haven't killed me yet. I don't really see the need for my stock to be clear. Today, I was reading another post somewhere that said don't ever stir your stock while it's cooking. About all I do is strain the stock and cool it for the fat to rise to the top and then toss that out.

Anyway, how finicky are you with your stock and has it made a difference?

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  1. I was wondering the same thing. I always make stock with frozen carcasses, adding some wings/backs/feet if I have them on hand. I really don't worry about my stock being cloudy, as I suspect it is. I suppose if one is making a consomme (sp?), it would matter, but I wonder why it matters otherwise. One trick I did learn from JC is to simmer the carcasses (cut up) by themselves at first, skimming along the way, and then to add aromatics etc. I don't ever stir stock, but I don't see a reason to either.

    8 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      Yep, I make chicken stock all the time. Add a whole cut up chicken with a onion, carrot, bay leaf, etc. Cook and remove chicken. Cut up and freeze. I use it for chicken pot pies, dumplings, soup. I also love creamed chicken over fresh southern bisquits. Or use for chicken salad sandwiches or even just over salad with some water chestnuts, snap peas, broccoli, scallions, shitaki mushrooms and an asian dressing.

      So yes, always, stock but I just strain once. Doesn't bother me. This works with beef ribs too and pork roast and a ham. Seafood is a bit different obviously

      1. re: kchurchill5

        I guess I strain mine twice - once through the mesh colander, then through a finer sieve - but just because I don't want gunk in my stock - not because of the cloudy issue.

        1. re: kchurchill5

          I always make mine with a carcass leftover from a roast chicken and find that the leftover shreds of meat are pretty flavorless by the time I'm done. When you make stock with a whole chicken does the resulting boiled chicken have enough flavor to be useful?

          1. re: mordacity

            It depends on how well you season the chicken before cooking it. If you use lots of herbs and vegetables in the pot, as well as some white wine, the chicken can have a nice flavor. I have always saved some chicken for a soup pot and/or a creamed chicken casserole. The texture is good but the flavor can be mild. If you use a leftover chicken, are you adding any spices to the pot?

            1. re: Thalia902

              I include whatever herbs I stuffed the chicken with, onion, carrot, celery, and whatever odds and ends of herbs I have leftover from the last few weeks of cooking. I keep a stock bag in the freezer with the chicken carcass and add herbs and veggies as I have leftovers until I've got all I need to make stock. I never use rosemary though - it's a bit TOO flavorful - and I save the salting and peppering for when I actually use the stock to avoid overseasoning those dishes.

            2. re: mordacity

              I use a onion, carrob and some celery when I boil the chicken. Eating alone ... no. But I use it for soups, stews, chicken salad, dumplings where I incorporate other ingredients. That way it is just fine. It is flavorful, not as much as some other techniques of cooking chicken, but very good in those uses. Chicken salad is a fave. Dumplings as well. I love chicken a good gravy over biscuits but I do add som peas, fresh herbs a bit of white wine, etc. Left over chicken is also great for quesadillas, spicy cheese, chopped lettuce, some onions, and the traditional topping. Very tasty. I love keeping bags in the freezer for those last minute go to meals in a hurry.

              1. re: kchurchill5

                I haven't heard of using carob in stock. Not sure your method is worth a try.

                1. re: jayt90

                  sorry ... carrot, typo and not wearing my glasses. My apologies.

        2. Depending on the meat after it cools and sits in the fridge I may skin the top. But not often. I do remove large carrots, onions, celery, etc before I package but rarely skim.

          Never killed me either. I care less if it is clear. I love the taste. I do take out large pieces of vegetables however, that is all. I do stir but not often. Just now and then. It doesn't have to be that hard.

          1. The 'particles" in stock can turn a tad bitter (overcooked /nasty overcooked meaty) but, for everyday (and less 'clean" tastes - my usual) is to cook, skim, and clear.

            1 Reply
            1. re: alwayscooking

              Except (I have to comment), ANY stock is soooo much better than ..... (?) cook and use!

            2. I think the main reason stock is "supposed" to be clear has to do with presentation. That's why the professionals are so picky about it, but for a home cook I don't think it's worth the bother. If I were making a clear soup for a fancy dinner party (which I never have) I would try to keep the stock as clear as possible, but otherwise I don't worry about it.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jlafler

                I do strain when I make a great Japanese soup with stock and just select ingredients. Otherwise, who gives a crap. Just as cook for me.

              2. I wondered about how necessary all the skimming was. In Michael Ruhlman's "The Soul of a Chef," he goes on at great length about the near-moral imperative of skimming and clarifying, which seems to be all caught up in the idea that you must do the very best job you can when cooking--always! (I'm a hobby cook and my standards are considerably lower.)

                But several of the chefs he talks about also mention "clean tasting" stock and this may be involved in not having meat particles left in the stock, which could ultimately give the stock an off taste, I suppose.

                " But for mine own part, 'twas Greek to me," and I do ten minutes worth of skimming and straining and leave it at that. It doesn't seem to harm the taste to me to have cloudy stock. And, in fact, if you super-strain it, say, through cheesecloth, repeatedly, aren't you straining out some of the flavor, as well?

                Of course, you don't want noticeable fat or scum (congealed proteins) floating on top, but that seems to me to be pretty easy to get rid of that with a reasonable amount of skimming (my 10 minutes standard) and cooling to congeal the fat on top for easy removal.