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Cheating in stock making? adding gelatin...

  • l

Today I took about 2 gallons of decent homemade stock and reduced it by 2/3 just to see what would happen. Now this is some hardcore stock concentrate it's a fairly dark golden brown liquid that is packed with flavor and I didn't even brown the bones or meat to start. This what a white stock when I originally pulled it off the stove the other day. I know I'm going to have to dilute it in most applications.

So I know how to make a good stock, but what I'm wondering is since the bone's dont really give up much flavor (unless they're browned) has any one ever supplemented their stock with some extra gelatin to give it more body and mouth feel? Next week I wanna experiment with doing a browned stock with half of the bones as this one and adding unflavored gelatin for body and see how it compares with what I prepared today. Fortunately I have a nice local asian market that sells chicken bones for .80/lb. Look's like I might have to get my pressure canner and jars out so my stock can have some shelf life.

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  1. I think it is great you are experimenting with this. Chicken stock is such a wonderful thing to have on hand.

    I shortcut by using the pressure cooker. I do use bones, and I don't roast them. I have decided on a method that goes like this: buy fryer, pressure cook fryer with aromatics for about 25 min. using low pressure, stop cooking, and pour off the contents, adding back the liquid and the picked bones, wing tips and maybe the drumsticks.. Pressure for another 25 minutes or so using low pressure. (I'm still refining my times.) I get beautiful golden stock--what I want--and pretty good flavor. If I am unhappy with the flavor, I fortifiy with solid chicken stock. This method gives me stock and lovely chicken white meat to use in sandwiches. The stock always becomes beautifully gelatinized and is lovely to look at as well. Have fun in your experimentations.

    1. typically i'm too lazy to roast the bones, but it seems like the longer the stock simmers, the more gelatin and such gets released from the bones. just let it bubble away and do its stuff. i put it in the fridge overnight to skim off the fat and am always surprised by how jiggly the stuff gets!

      i don't care for the mouthfeel offered by boxed gelatin.

      1 Reply
      1. re: hotoynoodle

        I'm suprised you can differentiate the mouth feel between boxed gelatin and gelatin from the natural stock making process. They are literally the same compound. It's just a gelatin to liquid ratio that would change the viscosity aka mouthfeel

      2. Do you crack your bones before putting them in the pot? I found I got a much better gel when I started busting thigh, leg and backbones into pieces before tossing them in.

        1. Add chicken feet and you will not need boxed gelatin.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            Feet are just not to be found around here so I've never had the chance to work with them. I'm curious since I know some people and cultures love eating chicken feet as well as using them in stock. How do you prepare them for stock? Do they need to be skinned or just cleaned well and thrown in as is? We're contemplating having a flock of hens for eggs and meat next year and since feet can be used for stock (sorry, but I won't be eating chicken feet) I'd rather use them than throw them out.

            1. re: morwen

              I made aspic earlier this summer and used a calf's foot and a veal knuckle, both cut up for me by the butcher. The stock was definitely gelatinous. When I use chicken feet in stock, I just throw them in, but I buy them in packets in Chinatown.

              1. re: morwen

                I use chicken feet in stock. I just wash them and add them to everything else in the pot. I agree that they add that great gelled texture you're looking for. Adding wing tips might be a decent alternative if you don't have access to feet (I've been told).

                1. re: morwen

                  We get chicken feet cleaned (they don'g need to be skinned) and ready to go at my grocery store (la14). I slash the feet and lobes a bit to allow more flow of that gelatinous goodness.

                  1. re: morwen

                    I throw in chicken feet with just a washing. But my mom demands that the toenails be cut off --- a job for poultry shears.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      How have this and other of your Mother's similar issues affected your life? Someone asking me to clip chicken toenails might have traumatized me.

                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        That was good for a belly laugh! In truth, whenever I'm in her kitchen and have to snip them, for some odd reason, my thoughts turn to the tales of foot binding that I heard as a wee one.

                        My twitter page is inspired by lessons from my mother.

                2. I find turkey wings to be a great gelatinizer for stocks and soups.

                  1. I can't imagine why you'd want to add the boxed gelatin?
                    Wings, wings and feet - you'll get plenty.

                    I've been experimenting different ways to make chicken stock and broth. The richest one that I've made so far, was from the carcass of a roasted chicken. Wher in this case most if the gelatic, is in the baking dish. I scoop that up and drop it in the pot.
                    I let it simmer and simmer for hours until the bones were in pieces and it was the best thing for the stock. Strained, made a raft, cooked egg shells, and strained again.
                    Actually three times in all.

                    I find that I can achieve a couple of different stocks or broth. I covered a whole chicken added the usual vegetables, celery, onion, and carrot. I forgot the garlic. Usually I'll add a couple cloves. No biggy the broth was nice, but of course lighter which was desired for the Matzo Ball soup. I only cooked the chicken in the broth for about an hour, actually let it steam for most of the time. This is my best way for Asian soups, lighter broth but then I add ginger root too. Now.
                    For the most gelatinous, wings and feet. And what was really nice, I love the color. I looked at the broth/stock and thought "now that's what I call chicken broth." There are so many variations, and what I used to think was that there was only one. Not so.
                    And I love what the feet do the broth rich, rich without turning it too dark. I am not wanting my chicken stock to look like beef broth.

                    I have to admit, I've never cooked using chicken feet before, and it was a little unsettling for me. After a quick self talk I pulled a chair up for the little one and I showed him. His response...'MMM yum!" So he is completely unaffected, perfect.
                    I used about 8 chicken feet, and a baggy filled with wing tips, and 6 wings (I admit they are hard to sacrafice). Wash them and clip the toe nails off (unless you want to keep them).

                    1. Okay. Second attempt to respond. If the site goofs and eats this one too, there won't be a third one. CBS, fix it!

                      Now, where was I? Oh, yes... There is absolutely nothing wrong with adding unflavored gelatin to your home made stock, *IF* you're happy with the stock's flavor. And that is the key. After all, products like Knox Gelatin are simply stock with the flavor, color and moisture removed. So if you up the gelatinous qualities of a stock with it, you're just sending the gelatin off to a surrogate home. Sometimes, when time is working against you, it is the most expedient means to an end. Every experienced cook knows that there are times when the "cooking fairy" just leaves the kitchen, and suddenly garlic isn't garlicky no matter how much you add, ice cream won't freeze, no matter how hard you try, and a stock simply refuses to gel. Yay gelatin!

                      There is another kind of gelatin that can be useful. Knox is an animal based gelatin. Agar agar is a plant gelatin made from seaweed. A lot of people think it's exclusive to Japanese cooking, but it's been used in the U.S. for ages, but primarily by chefs and large scale food producers. You can buy it in leaves, that require presoaking and wringing out before adding to a preparation, and it is available in a flake form that is much easier to work with. The thing I like about agar agar is it will gel at room temperature and stay gelled until the place is so hot all of your guests have fled to air conditioned bars. Sometimes I do things like a ham or boned poultry masked with an opaque sauce, decorated with edible flowers or other designs, then set and sealed with several layers of clear gelatin, then finally served on a bed of diced jellied stock. No worry about it melting! And guests are always so impressed!

                      Bottom line is there is no "right way" to work with stock. It's whatever you can make work best. Sounds like you're on a heavy learning path. Oh, and just in case, learn how to say, "I meant to do that!" with conviction. Have fun! '-)

                      1. While we're on the subject of chicken stock I'd like to point out that in better Chinese restaurants, only the wing tips, backs, and breast-bones are used in the stock (only "white meat" bones) - no leg or thigh bones.

                        This makes a cleaner tasting stock, which, by the way, will gel if concentrated sufficiently.

                        The only time nowadays that I use anything else is when I'm making a small amount of soup from a cooked chicken carcass.

                        1. Tip: for added flavor to go with that added body, add ground chicken meat. Cooks Illustrated happened upon that in their usual tests of making stock at home. Ground meat apparently releases all its good stuff much more completely than intact meat parts, which is one of those duh! things when you think about it.

                          1. crack the backbone a few times, whack the wings and legs with a cleaver, use a black chicken carcass if possible, or if unavailable, whatever you have.

                            1. Add some vinegar, it helps dissolve the bones and release the collagen.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Does it matter what kind of vinegar? How much would you say to add say to 4 qts?

                                1. re: chef chicklet

                                  Any basic vinegar will do. I find regular table vinegar to be the best as it is taste neutral for the most part.

                                  I don't measure. Usually just a small splash (just eyeballing, probably about 1 tablespoon at most).

                                  Don't worry about too much as the vinegar will cook out during the stock making process.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    Thanks, I'm on this mission to make great chicken stock and broth. Any advice is welcome!

                              2. some recipes for meat loaf suggest adding a bit of gelatin as a substitute for ground veal. i've often wondered if adding just a hint of gelatin to reduced beef stock would make it seem more like veal stock.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: silverhawk

                                  i use veal stock as a "neutral" stock. it's far lighter in color and flavor than my beef stock, so i'm a little confused by your question?

                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    the notion of subbing gelatin for ground veal in meat loaf addresses a texture matter, not a depth of flavor matter. i was simply wondering if adding a smidge of gelatin to reduced beef stock would introduce a bit of silkiness that might mimic the texture of veal stock.

                                2. I think gelatin could be used as a sub for bones in stock but what would I do with all my bones. Nice to know that they can be recycled into stock. I don't roast my bones and just toss them in the pressure cooker with any chicken scraps that I've accumulated. Trim of meat from BSCB, giblets, wing tips, backs, thigh bones, old bones from previous roasted birds. All get saved up for stock. I don't use meat unless it's trim from boning and cleaning breasts and thighs.

                                  1. This is a great discussion. Lots of good info here. I will have to try the vinegar. My stock made with a whoe fryer, without cracking bones (good idea to try) or adding gelatin, gets plenty gelatinous. For some reason, I prefer a lighter, golden stock. I do get a darker, more intense stock when I use the carcass of a roasted bird. I like the idea of adding turkey wings to the stock pot too. But for me, if I didn't have a pressure cooker, I probably would never make stock.