Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dark Chicken Broth - Who Knew Chicken Backs could taste so good!

When we have roast chicken, I buy a whole chicken, part it out myself and freeze the backs and wings for later use to make chicken broth.  Up until now, I have always made golden(light) chicken broth using the backs and wings. 

But today, I am trying something new.  We are having our own 'little' Thanksgiving on Friday, after the usual Thanksgiving with friends on Thursday.  Usually, I make a full on whole turkey dinner, but this year we are really focused on getting the house ready for sale and our pending move to Orcas Island - not much energy or time left to deal with a whole big bird, or 'elephant' as we like to call it( as in 'The gods have given us an elephant, you must help us eat it').  So we decided to have some cornish game hens roasted over the usual turkey stuffing.  However, what to do about turkey gravy?  The little birds will hardly render enough fat or juices to make good gravy.  That's when I remembered reading about dark chicken broth in David Tanis' book A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes.  You make the dark broth and then reduce it and freeze it for later use in whatever recipe that calls for a flavorful chicken broth. 

Without further ado, here is the recipe -

1 organic chicken, about 4 lbs. (I can't bear to waste good chicken, so I used 2 chicken backs and 4 wings)
1 medium onion, quartered
2 medium carrots, peeled and chunked
1 celery stalk
6 quarts water
a thyme branch or two
bay leaf
1 tablespoon tomato paste

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Split the chicken in half.  Place it, unseasoned, in a shallow roasting pan and scatter teh vegetables over and around it.  Roast uncovered at 400F for 15 minutes then reduce the heat to 350F and roast for about another 45 minutes, turning frequently, roast until the bird is very brown but NOT burnt on all sides. 

Put the contents of the pan in a stockpot and cover with the water.  Be sure to deglaze the roasting pan to get all the good browned bits off the pan.  Put the thyme and bay leaf in the stock pot. Add the tomato paste.

Simmer the stock for 2 hours or until reduced by half.  Refrigerate and then degrease.  Save the grease for some awesome gravy.  Your stock should be a rich brown and lightly gelatinized.  It can be refrigerated for several days or frozen for future use. 

For a simple dark sauce reduction, boils 2 cups of the half reduced stock until 1 cup remains.  Just 1 cup of this second reduction will be so rich it will make enough sauce for 8 servings.


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