Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chicken Stock and Balsamic Glaze

In preparation for the first dinner party, I made my first TWO recipe accountrements. Both seemed pretty easy. Both took an absurdly long amount of time.

First, chicken stock. Being the genius I am, I figured I could find chicken bones somewhere. I was right! Apparently they are common in asian markets (something San Diego has a decent number). My lovely husband has a 99 Ranch a couple of blocks away from his work, so he stopped by and got 5 pounds of chicken bones and a pound of chicken feet. Much easier than buying 20 pounds of chicken and butchering them.

I've never actually seen uncooked chicken feet before. They looked like little 4-fingered hands. With fingernails and all. Freaky.

I rinsed the chicken pieces, removing skin and blood and anything that would come off easily, then simmer and skimmed and skimmed and skimmed. While skimming and skimming, I cut up leeks and onions and carrots for mirepoix.

I added the mirepoix to the simmering mess of chicken bones attempting to crawl out of the pot (seriously, a chicken foot would occasionally pop up and look like a hand trying to claw its way out, freaked me out every time), and simmered and skimmed and skimmed and skimmed some more. Seriously, my arms were DEAD when I was done with this.

After that simmering, I strained it twice, ladling the stock through the strainer. Do we see how big that pot is? [insert picture] It was a lot of ladling. A LOT. More dead arms. But the stock was good. Clear. Clean tasting. I think I like my stock a little more chicken-y, though, so next time I will use a little less water.

While I was skimming, I made balsamic glaze. My mis en place.

To make glaze, dump in pot and let it reduce slowly. MUCH less work than the stock. But by the time two hours had elapsed, I had only reduced it by half (its supposed to reduce to about ½ a cup, a quarter of what I started with). So I reduced another hour. Then I decided I HAD to go to sleep, even though it was almost twice the amount I SHOULD have had, so I cooled it and put it in a squeeze bottle. Then the next morning, I decided it was still too thin, so I would dump it in and reduce more. Two hours later, I finally had around a half of a cup. I think maybe it needed more heat to reduce properly, but I was scared of bringing it to a simmer and making it too vinegary. In any event, I tasted it, it seems fine, hopefully it works fine.

Next up: actual prep work for dinner!

Resources: 99 Ranch for chicken bones and chicken feet.

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