While waiting for my wife to return home from a day’s outing this past Wed (24 Aug), I decided to make a simple soup for supper. I decided to make a chicken broth based soup. Little did I realize that I was in for a surprise. So what I chose to make was based on the chicken broth/stock as described in Iron Chef Chen’s Knockout Chinese cookbook. I’ve been using this recipe for almost a year now. I normally ask the meat counter at Whole Foods Newtonville for chicken wings (which is a mix of drumettes, tips and ‘arms’ (the part that has two parallel bones in it). Usually when I’ve made this, I usually get a nice broth. However this time (a day later after having chilled it in the refridgerator), I got a nice gelatinous mass. What I suddenly realized was that the meat counter had given me a significantly larger proportion of chicken wing ‘arms’ relative to the mix I normally get. So this got me to thinking….. both Thomas Keller and Julia Child have commented on the importance of stock ( https://tastingmenu.wordpress.com/2011/02/05/on-stock/ ). There’s also a wonderful reference online that encapsulates the making of chicken stock as it appears in The French Laundry Cookbook. The online reference can be found here –
This particular recipe uses bones, necks and backs to extract the gelatin from the bones. However, there’s also another blogger’s writeup about the experience of making stock using chicken wings ( http://cookingformywife.blogspot.com/2009/04/chicken-wing-stock.html ) and getting a similar result (in fact, he appears to be well aware of Chef Keller’s recipe).
In terms of time comparisons:
* Thomas Keller’s version is estimated to take around 50 mins to an hour
* the blogger’s version took around 3-4 hours
* Julia Childs’ version took around 4 to 5 hours (Mastering The Art Of French Cooking, 1st ed, 1961, p 109)
* my experience of 24 Aug (that resulted in the gelatin stock took about an hour as well with Iron Chef Chen’s recipe [as done in the my indirect heating rice cooker/steamer similar to this – http://www.tatungusa.com/app/pageproduct.aspx?pid=196&cid=232%5D)
Both Chef Keller and Julia Child note that one should NEVER allow the stock to boil else the fat, scum and impurities will incorporate themselves into the stock (read: gelatin) and make it cloudy.
But why all the attention to the gelatin issue relative to soup stock? The “Best Beef Stew” article in Cook’s Illustrated (pgs. 8-9, Jan & Feb 2010 issue No. 102) succinctly observed , “gelatin…gives the stew a luxurious mouth-coating texture…”. I imagine this is exactly why stock based sauces have the rich concentrated flavors that they do (think of braised dishes whose braising liquid reductions nappe into a sauce that are stock-based). An application for stock OUTSIDE of western recipes is its use in the chinese xiaolongbao (literally, (xiao)little (long)dragon (bao)dumplings”) [ see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xiaolongbao ], sometimes referred to as “soup dumplings”. Basically the ‘soup’ component is a gelatinized version of the chinese superior broth (see https://tastingmenu.wordpress.com/2010/11/25/on-chinese-superior-broth-%E9%AB%98%E6%B9%AF%E4%B8%8A%E6%B9%AF/ ).
I recently came across a frozen stock product at Whole Foods Newtonville (in their freezer case). What I found was Perfect Addition Inc.’s Chicken Stock – an unsalted commercial stock preparation. I managed to locate the company phone number ((949) 640-0220, but no web site) and called to inquire about the product. I managed to contact a Ms. Connie Grigsby who, as it turned out, used to work for Chef Keller at the French Laundry until they remodeled their kitchen. What I learned from her was that her product was essentially the same stock that she used to make at the restaurant. Like a lot of other home cooks with very busy schedules, sometimes there never quite enough time to prepare some recipe elements for a meal. So Perfect Addition’s Chicken Stock obviously got my attention as I started looking ahead to menu ideas for the upcoming fall and winter seasons. The recipe to which I’d like to apply the product is Ron Siegel’s Red Wine Braised Short Ribs With Root Vegetables (I found this 6 Jan 2005 at the Republic Of Tea website [ recipe page now unavailable ]).