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  #1  
Old 12-22-2006, 07:35 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Why did my chicken stock turn out like gelatin?

In an attempt to expand my limited cooking skills, I took a shot at making some chicken stock a few days ago. Easy enough, I thought: I bought a 5 lb bag of chicken bones from the meat department at the market (backs, necks and such with quite a bit of meat still on them), washed them thoroughly and put them all in a pot. I added about 1 1/2 gal of water, a chopped up a carrot, a chopped up piece of celery, and put in half an onion, a few bay leaves, some salt and peper. I brought it to a boil, skimmed the scum, then let it simmer, lid cracked slightly open, for about 3 hours. I strained the broth, and set it in the fridge over night. (I sampled it before I set it in the fridge and it was very tasty!)

So, I took it out the next day to skim the fat off the top and.... what the hell is that gelatinous glob of glistening semi-liquid that was left over? I think it would turn into a liquid if I heated it, but is this what I was supposed to get? Where did I go wrong? Do I have to throw this stuff away? I didn't "blanch" the chicken bones first, but that's the only obviouis shortcut I took.
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  #2  
Old 12-22-2006, 07:40 PM
AuntiePam AuntiePam is offline
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It's okay. You did good. It will turn back to liquid when it's heated. My stock (and soups and gravies made with stock) is always Poultry Jello after refrigeration.
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  #3  
Old 12-22-2006, 07:41 PM
Sierra Indigo Sierra Indigo is offline
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Chicken stock will go to a jelly-like substance if left to cool. It will also melt when you reheat it. I don't know the chemistry behind it, just that it does. If you watch any cooking shows, you might note that on occasion they will bring out some jelly-stock and melt it down to use in their dishes.

There's absolutely nothing to freak about. It sounds like you did everything right, so melt it and enjoy your chicken-y goodness.
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  #4  
Old 12-22-2006, 07:42 PM
Queen Bruin Queen Bruin is offline
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If it went gelatin, that means you did it right. Congratulations!
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  #5  
Old 12-22-2006, 07:42 PM
Caridwen Caridwen is offline
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Sounds like you have very rich stock!
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  #6  
Old 12-22-2006, 07:44 PM
Cowgirl Jules Cowgirl Jules is offline
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Fantastic. I find that raw chicken bones (like you used) just make a lighter-colored stock, and maybe a little milder, as I like the flavor boost from roasted chicken. But it's supposed to gelatinize like that; it means that you did it right. Enjoy!
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  #7  
Old 12-22-2006, 07:45 PM
Oakminster Oakminster is offline
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Sounds to me like that chicken stock is about to pay off some nice diggin-ins....
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  #8  
Old 12-22-2006, 07:45 PM
chrisk chrisk is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sierra Indigo
Chicken stock will go to a jelly-like substance if left to cool. It will also melt when you reheat it. I don't know the chemistry behind it, just that it does. .
Well... the way to create gelatin is to subject the bones, skin, and connective tissue of an animal to prolonged boiling. Sounds very much like the sort of thing that happens when making stock.
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  #9  
Old 12-22-2006, 07:47 PM
Sierra Indigo Sierra Indigo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisk
Well... the way to create gelatin is to subject the bones, skin, and connective tissue of an animal to prolonged boiling. Sounds very much like the sort of thing that happens when making stock.
You know, I should know that and it sounds like what was in my head when I wrote the post, but I couldn't be bothered looking it up to confirm it and I didn't just want to spout some bullshit
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  #10  
Old 12-22-2006, 08:19 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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OK. It sure looks kind of yucky, though. Did I start with the right amount of water?

If I make soup, do I just heat up the stock as is, or do I water it down?

Thanks for all the advice!
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  #11  
Old 12-22-2006, 08:26 PM
BlueKangaroo BlueKangaroo is offline
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I had a similar question recently. Now I call it "the wobbly chicken elixir".

Oddly enough, I haven't been able to repeat my creation, but that may be because I'm reluctant to almost set fire to the house again.
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  #12  
Old 12-22-2006, 08:31 PM
Cheesesteak Cheesesteak is offline
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If it tasted good before you refrigerated it, it'll taste good when you reheat it. Gelatin sets when cold, and melts when heated, it doesn't really undergo any other changes, the stock will only be jelled when it's in the fridge. There's no need to thin it out, unless it just tastes too strong.
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  #13  
Old 12-22-2006, 08:34 PM
Queen Bruin Queen Bruin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace
OK. It sure looks kind of yucky, though. Did I start with the right amount of water?
You only need enough water to keep the solid bits covered. As long as it's wet, you're good.

If it looks really yucky, you can pass it through a strainer or chinois lined with damp cheesecloth. Did you skim the protein buildup as it simmered? It shouldn't bother the flavor, but it can make your stock cloudy.

Quote:
If I make soup, do I just heat up the stock as is, or do I water it down?
If you are at the gelatin phase, you could likely water it down a fair bit. Taste as you go along.

If you want any more stock info, I really recommend the eGCI stock course.
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  #14  
Old 12-23-2006, 07:58 AM
teela brown teela brown is offline
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Gelatinized stock is a sign you did it right and have a nice, rich meaty stock.

I like to leave the cap of solid fat undisturbed on top of the refrigerated stock. It seems to preserve the stock for a longer time in the fridge, assuming you poured the stock piping hot into its refrigerator container and put it directly into the refrigerator. Maybe the fat cap is sealing out bacteria, but the broth definitely keeps fresher longer.
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  #15  
Old 12-23-2006, 08:07 AM
Contrapuntal Contrapuntal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace
If I make soup, do I just heat up the stock as is, or do I water it down?
Depends. Warm the stock until it is liquid. Taste it. If the flavor is too strong, dilute as rquired.

Stock tip: Next time roast the bones and aromatics (onions, celery, carrots, etc.) for an hour or so at 350 F. before making the stock. Deepens the flavor. You could also add a bouqet garni, which is a bundle of herbs of your choice tied up in cheesecloth.

Home made chicken stock is the tits.
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  #16  
Old 12-23-2006, 08:17 AM
pseudotriton ruber ruber pseudotriton ruber ruber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teela brown
Maybe the fat cap is sealing out bacteria, but the broth definitely keeps fresher longer.
I always wonder about this. Sometimes I have a bowl of stock that I vaguely remember making in the Nixon administration, and I say to myself, "Well, it's had that nice coating of schmaltz on top of it, how could any nasty germs possibly penetrate that barrier?"
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  #17  
Old 12-23-2006, 09:04 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Contrapuntal
Depends. Warm the stock until it is liquid. Taste it. If the flavor is too strong, dilute as rquired.
Will do.

Quote:
Stock tip: Next time roast the bones and aromatics (onions, celery, carrots, etc.) for an hour or so at 350 F. before making the stock. Deepens the flavor. You could also add a bouqet garni, which is a bundle of herbs of your choice tied up in cheesecloth.
Yep, I was thinking I'd roast them first next time. I know about bouqet garni, but wanted to keep it simple the first time. I will try it, though. Seems like you have to buy a whole bunch of herbs and I figured I'd have to throw most of them away-- I don't cook that much, and hate to be wasteful (must be that Catholic upbringing still haunting me). Do you have to use cheesecloth? I've seen it just tied up with butcher's string.

Sausage Creature: Yes, I did skim the scum as it started to boil. I think I got most of it.
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  #18  
Old 12-23-2006, 09:13 AM
Contrapuntal Contrapuntal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace
I know about bouqet garni, but wanted to keep it simple the first time. I will try it, though. Seems like you have to buy a whole bunch of herbs and I figured I'd have to throw most of them away-- I don't cook that much, and hate to be wasteful (must be that Catholic upbringing still haunting me).
True enough. I grow my own, so I don't think about the cost. $2.00 can buy you a packet of rosemary, or a rosemary plant that will yield forever.
Quote:
Do you have to use cheesecloth? I've seen it just tied up with butcher's string.
Butchers string works fine. Sometimes I like to add whole peppercorns or other spices, so I am in the habit of using cheesecloth.
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  #19  
Old 12-23-2006, 09:26 AM
GingerOfTheNorth GingerOfTheNorth is offline
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Does no-one more knowledgeable than I want to explain how this happens? Gelatin creation has been touched upon, but the reason why is that the bones and connective tissue et al releases collagen. You know they've given all they can give when the bones snap in half with a bit of pressure.

God, I hate it when I have to explain things cooking, because I'm not an analytical cook. I don't even use recipes when cooking.
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  #20  
Old 12-23-2006, 09:33 AM
pseudotriton ruber ruber pseudotriton ruber ruber is offline
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And here's my 'I'm skimming scum of soup--and loving it!' thread. Some helpful info here.
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  #21  
Old 12-23-2006, 09:59 AM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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Instead of calling it 'poultry goo' or 'chicken jello', you could be more elegant and call it 'demi-glace', which is what it is.
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  #22  
Old 12-23-2006, 10:13 AM
Motorgirl Motorgirl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GingerOfTheNorth
Does no-one more knowledgeable than I want to explain how this happens? Gelatin creation has been touched upon, but the reason why is that the bones and connective tissue et al releases collagen. You know they've given all they can give when the bones snap in half with a bit of pressure.

God, I hate it when I have to explain things cooking, because I'm not an analytical cook. I don't even use recipes when cooking.
My Hero Alton Brown did a whole show on stocks and I can't remember his full explanation of the chemical and physical process involved, but he sums it up in I'm Just Here for the Food:

Quote:
A stock is a liquid in which collagen from animal bones and connective tissue has been dissolved and converted into a protein matrix called gelatin.
From what I do remember from the show, long slow cooking of the bones (and ligaments and cartilage and the skin if you're using it) leaches all the collagen out of the tissue. Once all the marrow and other connective proteins have been leached out of the bones, you'll find they're quite crumbly.

The collagen molecules, when mixed with water and heat, split apart and the resulting pieces clump together to form gelatin. They clump more at lower temperatures, so at soup temperature you get a rich liquid with a silky mouthfeel, and at room temp and below you get jello.
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  #23  
Old 12-23-2006, 10:16 AM
Kitchen Wench Kitchen Wench is offline
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I just made a deeeelicious lamb stock from a lamb shank and hip earlier this week. Last night, I brought the pot out of the fridge, took the layer of fat off, chopped up the oh-so-tender meat & made a fabulous lamb stew. Man oh man, it was good.

Everyone else was right- if you've got demi-glace (meat jell-o) you did it right. The stock was chock-full of flavor and had real body to it. Yum. We had happy tummies last night.
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  #24  
Old 12-23-2006, 10:23 AM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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By the way, what you made is called a "white" stock. If you wish to make a "brown" stock, just roast the bones and vegetables before simmering. The two names have nothing to do with the color of the liquid, just the method.

Also, if you ever decide to make stock using your leftover carcass or roast bones, make sure you remove all obvious fat. It adds nothing to the stock flavor and creates a huge removal headache. Skimming of fat is critical to stock success, as is a low simmer heat. Boiling emulsifies the fat into the liquid and you end up with greasy soup, as it won't fully separate out when cooled.
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  #25  
Old 12-23-2006, 10:28 AM
Eva Luna Eva Luna is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace
Yep, I was thinking I'd roast them first next time. I know about bouqet garni, but wanted to keep it simple the first time. I will try it, though. Seems like you have to buy a whole bunch of herbs and I figured I'd have to throw most of them away-- I don't cook that much, and hate to be wasteful (must be that Catholic upbringing still haunting me).
You can dry or freeze the leftovers - some freeze better than others, but they should all freeze pretty decently if you make them into herb butter. Herb butter will keep in the freezer for months. Plus it makes great garlic bread.
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  #26  
Old 12-23-2006, 12:00 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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This has been a really informative thread. Thanks for all the great advice, and Merry Christmas, Happy Channuka and everything to else that we celebrate this time of year!
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  #27  
Old 12-23-2006, 12:44 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Another cool thing to do with your stock is to reduce it to the point where it becomes a glace de viande. It might seem like a waste to go from a huge pot of stock to basically a jarfull or so of glace de viande, but it's seriously potent stuff. It's the pure essence of meat, basically, a bullion cube, but without all the nasty crap that goes into one.

All you do is take stock, boil it down until it reaches the consistency where it can coat the back of a spoon, and you're done. Jar it, put it in the fridge or freezer, and whenever you need just an extra jolt of meatiness to your sauces or stews, spoon in some glace de viande.

If I'm making a lot of stock, I usually end up freezing about four liters for future use, and boiling down the rest to the concentrated stuff.
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  #28  
Old 12-23-2006, 02:49 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell
Another cool thing to do with your stock is to reduce it to the point where it becomes a glace de viande. It might seem like a waste to go from a huge pot of stock to basically a jarfull or so of glace de viande, but it's seriously potent stuff. It's the pure essence of meat, basically, a bullion cube, but without all the nasty crap that goes into one.

All you do is take stock, boil it down until it reaches the consistency where it can coat the back of a spoon, and you're done. Jar it, put it in the fridge or freezer, and whenever you need just an extra jolt of meatiness to your sauces or stews, spoon in some glace de viande.

If I'm making a lot of stock, I usually end up freezing about four liters for future use, and boiling down the rest to the concentrated stuff.
Top chefs do exactly this, boiling down 50 gallons to about a pint or so.
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  #29  
Old 12-23-2006, 03:50 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eva Luna
You can dry or freeze the leftovers - some freeze better than others, but they should all freeze pretty decently if you make them into herb butter. Herb butter will keep in the freezer for months. Plus it makes great garlic bread.
I hope to put a small herb garden in my backyard this spring. That should take care of things.
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  #30  
Old 12-23-2006, 04:46 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefguy
Top chefs do exactly this, boiling down 50 gallons to about a pint or so.
How long does that take?

BTW, I ended up with about a gallon of stock after I cleared off the fat the next day. Does that sound right? (I started with 5 lbs of bones/meat and 1 1/2 gallons of water.)
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  #31  
Old 12-23-2006, 04:46 PM
Lynn Bodoni Lynn Bodoni is offline
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Originally Posted by John Mace
I hope to put a small herb garden in my backyard this spring. That should take care of things.
Beware of mint. I love mint, but it's extremely invasive. Also, many cats LOVE mint of any kind.
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  #32  
Old 12-23-2006, 04:56 PM
Eva Luna Eva Luna is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Bodoni
Beware of mint. I love mint, but it's extremely invasive.
Absolutely true; I solved that by planting it in a 2' diameter planter. When we planted mint at the house I grew up in, it took over the whole yard.
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  #33  
Old 12-23-2006, 05:53 PM
ivylass ivylass is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace
I hope to put a small herb garden in my backyard this spring. That should take care of things.
Oh, baby, I got one for my birthday. I planted rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, dill, parsley, and cilantro. The sage died, but the rest of the herbs took off like gangbusters...the cilantro alone got to be about three foot high.

In fact, I was looking at it yesterday (it's in the backyard) and noticed some white flowered plants growing. I thought they were weeds, until I got out there to pull them and realized my cilantro was blooming!

Ivylad cut off some oregano, thyme, and rosemary for pizza sauce yesterday, and I plan to do the same for some herb bread. I also cut back the cilantro...it doesn't do for the herbs to get too big, the essential oils and flavor get too diluted.

I used to have my herbs in a window box, but they've done much better outside in the full sun.

Mmmm...fresh herbs...
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  #34  
Old 12-23-2006, 05:55 PM
ivylass ivylass is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Bodoni
Beware of mint. I love mint, but it's extremely invasive. Also, many cats LOVE mint of any kind.
I keep my chocolate mint outside, but in a window box. That way it stays tamed.
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  #35  
Old 12-23-2006, 06:00 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn Bodoni
Beware of mint. I love mint, but it's extremely invasive. Also, many cats LOVE mint of any kind.
I will now that I know! I would've planted mint (summertime is mojito time!), but I have enough trouble already keeping the neighbors' cats out. Maybe I'll do the mint inside in a planter, if I do it.
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  #36  
Old 12-23-2006, 06:49 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace
How long does that take?

BTW, I ended up with about a gallon of stock after I cleared off the fat the next day. Does that sound right? (I started with 5 lbs of bones/meat and 1 1/2 gallons of water.)
Probably several days, but I've never done that amount myself.

What's right is what is good for you. I would have reduced your lot by about half, but it really depends on what you're going to do with it.
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  #37  
Old 12-24-2006, 01:52 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefguy
What's right is what is good for you. I would have reduced your lot by about half, but it really depends on what you're going to do with it.
Yeah, I guess that was kind of a dumb question. But If I just want to make soup, to if I want to use it in a recipe for Chicken Stew that calls for "2 cups of chicken stock" (or borth), what would be a good range? I know there isn't a single answer since it's probably a matter of how strong you want something to taste or maybe how thick you want the consistency to be... but what would you do? I assume by your username that you have some experience with this subject.
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  #38  
Old 12-24-2006, 02:37 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace
Yeah, I guess that was kind of a dumb question. But If I just want to make soup, to if I want to use it in a recipe for Chicken Stew that calls for "2 cups of chicken stock" (or borth), what would be a good range? I know there isn't a single answer since it's probably a matter of how strong you want something to taste or maybe how thick you want the consistency to be... but what would you do? I assume by your username that you have some experience with this subject.
I really need to change that username, as I often have to hasten to assure people that I am not a professional chef. I've had some training and consider myself an above-average and creative cook, however.

I would say that for the example given, the stock you made would be perfect. More concentrated stock requires more dilution before using. I generally make mine a bit more concentrated so that I can freeze it and not take up huge amounts of space. I've never made a glace de viande, but it's because of time constraints more than anything else.
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  #39  
Old 12-24-2006, 06:13 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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So, if I decide to do a serious reduction does it matter if I leave all the ingredients in the pot, or do you at some point just want the stock to boil by itself?
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  #40  
Old 12-24-2006, 07:21 PM
Full Metal Lotus Full Metal Lotus is offline
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Chicken Jello-Pops

Well, your gelatin turned out fine, and now what to do with all that. Earlier posts have explained how to use it like a boulion cube, and even to freeze it. Here is a neat trick that works well.
Freeze your gelatin in an ice cube tray instead of a single container. For most soups, cooking, one "Ice Cube" of gelatin/Stock for every 2 cups of liquid in your culinary creation. (YMMV).

Bon Appitie!

FML
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  #41  
Old 12-25-2006, 12:26 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace
So, if I decide to do a serious reduction does it matter if I leave all the ingredients in the pot, or do you at some point just want the stock to boil by itself?
If you want to do a serious glace de viande, do not leave the ingredients in the pot. It would be impossible to separate the glace from the veggies after the reduction. Besides, you want glace de viande to be as clear as possible. Just make your usual stock and cook it down for up to 12 hours (I usually don't go much more than 6-8). Strain it, refrigerate it. The next day, skim off the solidified fat, and boil the sucker down until you get something that could coat the back of a spoon. For a gallon of stock, it really shouldn't take all the long...two hours at the most. A gallon will reduce to about 1 to 2 cups of glace de viande. The more collagen and bones are in the initial stock, the quicker it will thicken and gelatinze.
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  #42  
Old 12-25-2006, 01:41 AM
quiltguy154 quiltguy154 is offline
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Another point, don't salt your stock beforehand, because you never know what you'll be doing with it ultimately. If it is reduced to a fare-thee-well, you will have a tasty but most saline concoction. As the water evaporates, the saltiness becomes more concentrated. Salt whatever it is your MAKING with the broth/stock/glace.
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  #43  
Old 12-25-2006, 07:49 AM
Baker Baker is offline
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Break the leg and wing bones before boiling. This exposes the marrow, which adds flavor and also helps it set.
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  #44  
Old 12-25-2006, 09:32 AM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ivylass
Oh, baby, I got one for my birthday. I planted rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, dill, parsley, and cilantro. The sage died, but the rest of the herbs took off like gangbusters...the cilantro alone got to be about three foot high.

In fact, I was looking at it yesterday (it's in the backyard) and noticed some white flowered plants growing. I thought they were weeds, until I got out there to pull them and realized my cilantro was blooming!
Cilantro...also known as coriander. Same plant. Coriander is the english name for the plant, and the english apparently just used the seeds rather than the leaves. Since the plant became re-introduced to the english speaking world through Mexican food, now everone uses the spanish name, cilantro. Indian food uses corainder/cilantro seeds quite a bit. Thais also use the roots.
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  #45  
Old 12-25-2006, 11:57 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baker
Break the leg and wing bones before boiling. This exposes the marrow, which adds flavor and also helps it set.
I was going to do that, but I was too lazy. I'll try not to be so slothfull next time!

Quote:
Originally Posted by quiltguy154
Another point, don't salt your stock beforehand, because you never know what you'll be doing with it ultimately.
Good idea. I did put a little salt/pepper in, but it makes sense to add it later-- especially if you're using it in other recipes that call for adding salt and pepper since you won't know how much to add in that case.
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