A good stock or broth or is an essential part of any good cook’s repertoire because it adds an imitable depth of flavour to dishes. Making it is not an overly complicated affair and you can enjoy the results for weeks or months to come, depending on how much you make and decide to store in the freezer.
Skimming the fat off stock or broth ensures clarity and lightness of flavour, two ideal qualities of a great soup, especially consommés. Below we share some tips on making stocks and how to skim the fat off so you end up with a gorgeous clear soup or broth.
HOW TO SKIM FAT OFF STOCK, BROTH OR SOUP
Short of having a magical ladle, you can achieve a clear and pure broth using any of these three methods:
1. ‘DEFOAM’ THE BROTH
During cooking, fat and impurities will float to the surface of the broth. Every time you see foam emerge simply use a ladle to remove it.
2. THE HOT METHOD
Once the stock is ready, remove the pieces of meat and vegetables. The next step is to strain the liquid through a kitchen towel soaked in very cold water. The contrast between hot and cold will cause the fat to make contact with the cold cloth and remain ‘trapped’ in the canvas while the liquid is strained into a bowl or large container.
3. COLD METHOD
This is the simplest method to skim fat off a broth. Once ready, place the liquid in a glass container and wait for it to cool (at room temperature). At this point, put it in the fridge and leave it for about 12 hours, even better if all night. In the morning you will find that on the surface will be formed a solid and white crust (fat) that will be easy to remove with the ladle.
Quick tip: even if the cold method is very effective, we advise you to skim the broth while cooking to ensure maximum purity.
HOW TO MAKE STOCK
It won’t do you much good to know how to skim stock well if you don’t know how to execute the steps prior to the skimming. Classic meat broth is prepared by sautéing mirepoix (celery, carrot and onion) in a pot along with pieces of meat. Beef or veal bones are usually added to the mix then the whole thing is covered with water. The broth is left to cook over low heat for hours until its flavour and colour deepens.
Beef stock is used as the flavourful base for soup, but it has an array of other culinary uses as well. It can be used to braise meat (which mean slowly stewing it in a closed pot after lightly frying it). It can make sauces or polenta richer, or be used to cook vegetables.
Check out this great tutorial on making five classic stocks.
HOW TO MAKE A CHICKEN BROTH
Naturally, you can also make stock from chicken. A whole chicken or chicken bones may be used. The process is similar to the one mentioned above. You’ll cook the broth for about 2 hours on high heat and another 40 minutes on low heat. Then the broth must be reduced by about half.
The whole process can also be achieved in a slow cooker.
Once you have your chicken stock or broth, you can use it as the base for soups or more substantial stews, as you would beef broth. You can also cook rice or other grains like quinoa in chicken stock instead of water to impregnate them with flavour and transform the dish. Or you can use the broth as an ingredient in a pan sauce for searing vegetables.
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Are you looking for lunch or dinner ideas? Try our recipe for tortellini in broth.