Homemade chicken stock - now what?
I've been making vegetable, lentil and bean soups for years with Tetrapak or canned chicken broth. The other day I had a leftover roast chicken and decided to try making my own stock. I used the carcass and added onion, celery, carrot and a bouquet garni.
I was surprised to find it very gelatinous when chilled. Everything I've read online and in cookbooks suggests that this is a "good" thing. However, the one question I can't seem to find an answer to is: can I simply replace commercial chicken broth with this thick stock in recipes? I can't really imagine using it in place of broth in my soups - seems kind of gross. Should I combine some of this stock with commercial broth? or would that be a waste of my stock?
Moreover, I'm concerned about the calorie content of this stock. I thought that I could skim the fat off once it was chilled, but since the stock is so gelatinous, it's hard to get the fat off without taking the top layer of the stock off. I made a stock for borscht out of pork ribs once and didn't have this problem - the stock was liquid, even once chilled, and the fat was a solid layer on top.
You did good if you got a gelatinous stock. When warmed this gelatinous stock will give a nice mouth feel to your soups. Way better than the canned variety.
I freeze my stocks in bags or containers. I also like to fill ice cube trays or muffin tins with stock and then put the stock ice cubes in a bag. These are great for making pan sauces when you only need a little stock.
+1 for freezing and +1, a BIG +1, for accepting the gelled product. You will be thrilled with it.
I freeze in small containers and go 2 exact cups per. Then, when the product is frozen, out the "cubes" come and they all go into a Ziploc bag. Need a quart..easy, two cubes!
I've not found myself in need, based on the type of cooking I usually do (gumbos, soups and jambalayas), of the icecube size, but it's a great idea!
You want it like jelly--that means you got all the good stuff out. If you used a carcass you shouldn't have that much fat. I use carcasses from roasts but also throw in necks, wing tips and tails when I make my broth, and if I have more than a quarter inch on fat on top after it chills that's a lot. I'm not a fat phobe so a lot of times I just mix it up before I put it in containers for freezing. The broth melts into liquid quickly and I will concur with the others--once you have homemade broth you will NEVER go back to packaged. Bone broths are one of the absolute healthiest things you can eat and they taste awesome too.
Interesting you should mention this, Mandalay. Usually, I make chicken stock either from chicken pieces (i.e., breasts, thighs, legs) and then use the meat for chicken salad, pot pies...something like that.
I've been butterflying chickens lately and removing the backbones and wing tips, so I had a bag of those I used to make stock this weekend. I noticed exactly what you explained. After leaving the stock in the fridge overnight, I had much, much less fat to remove. I never knew that!
The gelatinousness melts out of it at a very low temperature. It doesn't STAY thick, I swear. Use it instead of bought stock and I swear you'll never go back again! As for the fat, it will either be floating on top of the stock in a clearly-visible solid layer that you can scoop off and discard, or else your stock is very low-fat to begin with and you don't need to worry about it.
Why would it be gross in soup? It re-liquefies once warm and will actually give a beautiful velvety texture.
You can use it just like you'd use commercial stock or broth, although since it's more flavorful you might not need as much or you might be able to dilute it.
If you're having a hard time with de-fatting, you might try warming it gently until everything liquefies and then pouring it into a tall, thin container to cool. A little of the top part of the stock might come off still when you remove the fat, but it'll be less than if you cool it in a shallow container and have to skim a large surface. You should be able to get all but a negligible amount of the fat.
Regarding overall nutrition, homemade stock is much better for you, because of the additional protein, calcium, and gelatin from the carcass. Good for the hair and nails especially! :)
"I thought that I could skim the fat off once it was chilled, but since the stock is so gelatinous, it's hard to get the fat off without taking the top layer of the stock off."
Chicken fat is softer than pork fat, just skim it off with a spoon. Don't worry about losing some of the stock with the fat. Stocks are inherently low-calorie because the fat has been removed, with much less sodium than canned broth.
It's great that it's gelatinous; that's an indication it has body and flavor. I don't understand why you think it's gross to replace it with commercial broth for soup-is it because it's jelled? If that's true, you can thin it out with wine or water that you've cooked vegetables in, or even vegetable juice, but please don't use commercial broth. I think if it's very gelatinous, you just reduced it quite a bit, maybe more than you needed to, or you used a higher bone to water ratio when you made the stock. Remember, when you re-heat it, the gelatin will dissolve.
So go ahead and make some soup; Ill bet you won't go back to canned broth anytime soon.