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What goes in chicken stock? Fat and Skin?

Chemicalkinetics Feb 13, 2010 11:19 PM

Ok, I just de-boned my chicken. Wings, breasts, thighs, legs - all removed. As I skinned the meats and trimmed the fat, I threw all the skin and fat into my stock along with the main carcass and bones. Is that a good idea or not? I am thinking that the skin and fat will give the stock more favor, but I am not sure if this is really healthy. What do you do? Thanks.

  1. cowboyardee Feb 16, 2010 06:53 AM

    Chem, I know this is too late for the stock you were making on the 14th. But for future reference, here goes.

    If you're going strictly from a flavor perspective, keeping the fat and skin in is a trade-off. It adds a slight bit of flavor (or rather highlights the flavors of some fat-soluble compounds) but also slows down the stock's flavor release, reducing the stock's immediate impact in the mouth. You can remove most of the fat after cooking, but some will always remain incorporated into the stock, and fat leads to slower, lingering tastes. Either way is completely fine and depends on how you intend to use the stock. If you ever make a dark chicken stock, browned skin makes a much more significant contribution to overall taste.

    If you do want to remove fat from the stock later, make sure you never boil your stock and don't stir vigorously. Boiling reincorporates the fat floating on the surface into the stock and basically emulsifies it to. Even refrigerating overnight wont fully separate this fat back out. The stock will be cloudier and have a greasier mouthfeel. Skimming the surface while cooking helps avoid this too.

    If you want a very clear stock for consomme or whatever, you shouldn't use the fat and skin at all. Fat will always make for a slightly cloudier stock regardless of how careful you are about skimming and not boiling and how many times you make an egg white raft. I've heard that ice filtration clarifies so well (at the expense of gelatin) that you might not need to worry. I haven't yet tried this and can't say for sure.

    1. Robin Joy Feb 16, 2010 06:01 AM

      How about simmering the whole raw bird for an hour with suitable veg., removing the meat for salad/sandwich use, and returning everything else to the pot for a couple of hours. Strain then de-fat when cold. Little fat, plenty of flavour.

      1. Ernie Diamond Feb 16, 2010 05:27 AM

        If you are adding these items uncooked, you will find that the skin adds a certain body from the natural gelatin but not a tremendous amount of flavor. The fat will add nothing of value.

        Stocks are exceedingly low in fat. You will have some residual oils floating on the surface but since they are thinner than water, lipids will accumulate on the surface and have to be skimmed off. This (now rendered) fat is good for cooking with (potatoes, veg, et al) but if you want to learn what it adds to the stock, skim a spoonful off the top and taste it. You will not want another.

        The next time you make stock, I suggest using using meaty chicken frames (carcasses) that have already been roasted rather than gobbets of raw skin. Even better; buy a few birds and dedicate them to the pot. The better your ingredients, the better your final outcome.

        1. d
          dmd_kc Feb 15, 2010 02:18 PM

          Roasted skin, with the fat rendered out, will add flavor. Raw skin offers very little in this regard.

          Despite what people keep insisting, fat does not equal flavor -- it's just that in many cuts of meat, if you don't have enough fat, you can't cook it properly to keep it flavorful. Think of a roasted, skin-on chicken breast. The top of the skin -- the protein -- is what browns and tastes good. If there's a flap of yellow fat still sticking to it, taste it. It has very little flavor.

          The more refined any fat gets, the less flavor it has. Processed lard tastes much more like shortening than pork. Even leaf lard's pork flavor is very mild. Think even of home-made schmaltz. If you don't use onions in it, it's rich and unctuous, but it's hardly bursting with chicken flavor. That's what the gribenes get.

          I make stock with bones and any meat still attached. If there was crispy skin, it never made it anywhere near a stock pot, because it's too good to use there.

          2 Replies
          1. re: dmd_kc
            chicgail Feb 16, 2010 04:34 AM

            It's not that fat adds it's own flavor to foods. It's that the inclusion of (some) fat increases our ability to taste what is already there. If you look at the ingredients in fat-free foods, they have more salt, sugar, hfcs, msg, etc to make up for the lack of fat. I'd rather have a small amount of fat in my foods than hfcs or additional sugars, salts, etc.

            1. re: chicgail
              PBSF Feb 16, 2010 06:55 AM

              It is true that fat can add flavor to food but one rarely drink chicken stock as is. A little fat might not be an issue and probably welcoming if the stock is used in making a puree of bean soup. But if I am using it for a clear soup or a fine sauce, the fatty stock leaves a greasy mouthfeel. And there is nothing wrong a pinch of sugar or salt if necessary to balance a dish.

          2. PBSF Feb 14, 2010 12:01 PM

            I am in the no skin no fat camp. The fat just makes the stock greasy, even after skimming and removing the layer on top. Save them for render chicken fat instead. It is also difficult to make a good stock from bones of one chicken. Freeze the bones until there is a large amount to make a good rich stock.

            2 Replies
            1. re: PBSF
              Chemicalkinetics Feb 14, 2010 12:38 PM

              Now, it does take a long time to really skim off the fat. Anyway, too late, this time I made with fat. Next time, I will try without skin and fat and see which one I like better. Thanks PBSF.

              1. re: PBSF
                chicgail Feb 14, 2010 02:03 PM

                The skin/fat issue is only important if you need to use the broth immediately. Leave it refrigerated overnight and the fat rises to the top, coagulates and is easy to remove. And the small bit that you don't get out -- for me -- doesn't leave the broth greasy, but provides more flavor.

              2. Sam Fujisaka Feb 14, 2010 11:45 AM

                I don't use fat or skin. I use bones from roasted chickens, feet, heads, and necks (this last with skin and fat removed).

                1. Chemicalkinetics Feb 14, 2010 10:26 AM

                  Follows-up Question:

                  I have the stock in a sauce pan in the refrigerator and has removed the fat using a spoon. I will probably remove some more fat again later. I plan to partition my stock in several containers and stores some of them in the freezer. I can store these frozen stock in several months, correct?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                    Olivia Feb 14, 2010 11:26 AM

                    Yes, you can store for several months. I think the general thought is 6 months, and then bring to a boil before consumption.

                    1. re: Olivia
                      Chemicalkinetics Feb 14, 2010 11:55 AM

                      Thanks Olivia

                  2. hill food Feb 14, 2010 03:14 AM

                    yes bones skin cartilage and all.

                    I usu try to reduce it down to a rendered concentrate. maybe if I'm vigilant skimming off pure schmaltz (great in potato pancakes and other things) and later spooning out broth. don't be afraid to later add carrot celery onion and garlic to the broth and continue.

                    best stock I made I forgot about and was on simmer in a huge pot for 8 hours while I slept. (I really lucked out - was in college and it was a friday night)

                    and anyway it's honest fat not trans. rendered is always better than processed.

                    I'll have to try Lenox's re-roast method next time.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: hill food
                      Chemicalkinetics Feb 14, 2010 07:42 AM

                      Cute baby. I actually were making stock with onion, garlic and ginger at the same time. Should I have put them in at a later time next time? i.e.: first cook it for a few hours and then add ingredients and simmer for a few hours.

                      Sound like your 8 hours stock is an unintentional 8 hours. I made my stock in a Dutch Oven, so residue heat continued to heat for it for maybe 1-2 hours after I gone to sleep.


                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                        hill food Feb 14, 2010 01:34 PM

                        quite unintentional (it's funny how thin that line is between 3 martinis and 7)

                        putting the aromatics in early won't hurt, they may get 'lost' and the flavor may need a boost later, but that will just make it more complex and layered so to speak.

                        1. re: hill food
                          Chemicalkinetics Feb 14, 2010 01:42 PM


                          Not 100% sure what you mean by "between 3 martinis and 7", but I can say there is a huge difference between drinking 3 martinis and drinking 7 martinis, so it is not a "thin line" there. Thanks for your advice on the aromatics.

                    2. l
                      Lenox637 Feb 14, 2010 01:15 AM

                      I roast all the bones and skin and then make stock. It creates a richer broth.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Lenox637
                        Chemicalkinetics Feb 14, 2010 07:43 AM

                        I read about similar method as you suggested, but it was too late. I were ready in the between of making my both. Thanks.

                      2. todao Feb 13, 2010 11:22 PM

                        That's what I always do. Everything goes into the pot. When it's done, I strain it and cool/refrigerate it until it develops three distinct layers (top layer is fat) then I scrape off the fat and discard it. The remaining gelatin and liquids are my flavorful stock.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: todao
                          Chemicalkinetics Feb 13, 2010 11:28 PM


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