Week 4 - Waste Not, Want Not, Part 2: First White Stock & (maybe!) Consomme
It’s Week 4 and we’re halfway through this season’s Great Colonial Cook Off. After an exhausting week staving off attempts by our resident crew of hungry archaeologists to devour every scrap of fire roasted chicken they could get their hands on, Lori and Krista are ready for some quiet time. The first part of this week’s challenge will definitely give them the break they deserve. The second part? Maybe not so much.
As Part 2 of our Waste Not, Want Not Challenge we’re featuring a couple of options that make tasty use of the leftovers from last week’s roast capon. Both recipes are for First White Stock A.K.A. chicken stock.
If you’ve never made homemade chicken stock before, this may be life changing. Trust us, it tastes absolutely nothing like the watery, over-salted stuff you get in cubes, cans or cartons at your local supermarket and its main ingredients are things you are probably throwing away. But don’t let that put you off. It tastes good enough to drink straight up (it’s reported that Queen Henrietta Maria drank it every morning for breakfast). You can also use it as a super flavorful base for homemade soups, sauces, gravy, risotto and casseroles.
We’re sharing two 17th century recipes for First White Stock. Pick whichever one appeals to you and feel free to play with the ingredients to suit whatever you have on hand. The first is courtesy of Francois Pierre La Varenne’s The French Cook, first translated into English in 1653:
Take knuckles of beef, the hinder part of the rump, a little of mutton, and/or some hens, according to the quantity of broth that you will have, put in meat proportionably, seeth it well with a bundle of parsley, young onions and time [thyme] tied together, and a few cloves, keeping always some warm water ready to fill up the pot again. Then after all is well sodden you shall strain them through a napkin for your use.
Here’s our 21st century version:
Take your leftover chicken carcass, including the skin, and break it apart. This reduces the amount of water you’ll need to cover the chicken, thereby concentrating flavour (no one wants a watery stock!)
- Toss your chicken into a large pot or into a crock pot.
- Add your additional flavoring elements. You can follow Varanne’s suggestions (parsley, green onions, thyme and a few cloves), or simply use them as a rough guide. Remember, these are going to be strained out of your stock and ultimately discarded, so this is a perfect time to use any leftover vegetable scraps including peels and trimmings. A lot of what ultimately ends up in the garbage or compost can be used to create delicious stock. Steer clear of turnip, which can make your stock bitter.
- A good number of 17th century English recipes call for the addition of a handful of raisins or a few prunes to the pot for a little sweetness and added colour. Perhaps a 17th century version of gravy browning?
- Add water until your chicken is covered (about 1 liter, but exact quantity will depend on how much chicken you have).
- Bring slowly to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for at least two hours. As long as you keep it to a simmer, it’s pretty darn impossible to overcook this stock. If you have your pot partially uncovered (in an attempt to keep it from boiling over), periodically add enough water to keep the chicken covered.
- Strain into a bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve immediately, or refrigerate if using later.
- As your stock cools, the fat will rise to the surface and solidify. Feel free to remove it, or simply leave as is and let the fat dissolve as the stock reheats.
Make very good broth with a brawny Hen or young Cock. After it is scummed, put in an Onion quartered, (and, if you like it, a Clove of Garlick,) a little Parsley, a sprig of Thyme, as much Minth [mint], a little balm [lemon balm]; some Coriander-seeds bruised, and a very little Saffron; a little Salt, Pepper and a Clove. When all the substance is boiled out of the meat, and the broth very good, you may drink it so, or, pour a little of it upon toasted sliced-bread, and stew it, till the bread have drunk up all that broth, then add a little more, and stew; so adding by little and little, that the bread may imbibe it and swell: whereas if you drown it at once, the bread will not swell, and grow like gelly: and thus you will have a good potage. You may add Parsley-roots or Leeks, Cabbage or Endive in the due time before the broth is ended boiling, and time enough for them to become tender. In the Summer you may put in Lettice, Sorrel, Purslane, Borage and Bugloss, or what other pot-herbs you like. But green herbs do rob the strength and vigor.
The Queen's ordinary Bouillon de santé in a morning was thus. A Hen, a handful of Parsley, a sprig of Thyme, three of Spear-minth, a little balm, half a great Onion, a little Pepper and Salt, and a Clove, as much water as would cover the Hen; and this boiled to less then a pint, for one good Porrenger [a type of bowl] full.
For super Cook Off keeners (you know who you are), we’re posing an added challenge ....
La Varenne’s The French Cook introduced French flavours and techniques to English cooks. He popularized the use of the bouquet garni (a bundle of herbs) to add flavour to dishes, and provided the first omlete recipe in an English language cookbook. He also provided the first English instructions for preparing the most sophisticated of all stock-based soups - consomme - which is made by reducing and then clarifying stock to create an intensely flavoured, crystal clear liquid. When made correctly, you should be able to see right down to the bottom of a consomme-filled bowl.
In theory, the clarifying process is simple enough. Stock is brought slowly to a boil while egg whites are whisked in. As the egg whites cook, they rise to the top of the stock in a grey froth that coagulates to form a filter (yummy!). The stock is then left to simmer while the impurities percolate up through the filter leaving the stock transformed into a clear consomme.
Modern recipes require three or more egg whites, but thrifty La Varenne uses just one white plus the egg shell! Here, in our 17th century kitchen, Lori and Krista are still building up the courage to give this recipe a try. As a result, we have no idea if it will actually work. If you’re feeling extra bold, give it a try and let us know how it turns out:
1 liter of First White Stock
1 egg white and shell (crushed)
1 small onion
1 celery stalk
1 large carrot
- Put all ingredients, including the unbeaten egg white and crushed eggshell into a large, deep pan.
- Whisk steadily over gentle heat until the boiling point is almost reached.
- Stop whisking and allow the stock to boil up. Remove the pan from the heat for three minutes. Repeat this boil and cool process three times.
- Cover your pan, put in a warm place, and allow the stock to infuse for 15 minutes.
- Strain the stock twice through a fine strainer, leaving the the coagulated egg white and shell in the strainer for the second pour to act as an added filter.
- Reheat the strained stock, but do not allow it to boil (this will make it cloudy again).
- Season and serve very hot.
If you really want to get all 17th century on us, you can chill and serve cold and jellied .... kinda like chicken jello!
Give one, two or all three of these recipes a go. Remember to snap a photo of the results and post on the Colony of Avalon’s Facebook page for a chance to win this week’s prize and our grand prize. Deadline for posting is midnight, Tuesday July 24th. Can't wait to see what you cook up!