Broth. Consommé with that little fancy thing over the “e”. Like I mentioned in the article about Turkey Gravy, ancient populations figured out that boiling bones and scraps resulted in a savory and nourishing broth. Where would we be without soup, indeed? A word to the wise — the word “boiling” will not appear again in this article, unless I’m in the process of cautioning you against doing it.
Volatility is the tendency of liquids to vaporize as a result of heat and/or exposure to atmospheric conditions. Depending on the temperature and upper surface area, stock will release H20 into the atmosphere as steam. Flavonoid molecules are also cast upwards, but remain particulate and stick to the surfaces inside our noses, the furniture, the carpet, the ceiling, etc. The desired result is to release as much H20 as possible, and as little of the flavonoids as possible.
That Moment of Clarity
A moment of clarity is often described as a sudden, and deep acceptance of some truth that has been impossible for us to see. This expression is frequently associated with alcoholics and other addicts when they finally realize that they cannot continue to go on living as they have, even if they are high as kites at the time. More broadly applied, as I have delved deeply into Sous Vide (sometimes I call it the Sous Void), I have had a few moments of clarity myself.
My realization that only salt can penetrate the complex matrix of tangled proteins we call meat was one of those moments. This turned the whole idea of marinades on its head, and now I muse at our previous belief that putting raw carrots and celery in a tank of wine and sugar and salt and vinegar and herbs with a huge chunk of meat actually DID anything. As it turns out, nothing is going into that meat. Quite the opposite, actually. For so many years, we seemed to believe that it was our intention that governed which direction flavors moved in solutions with objects. If we expected the liquid to flavor the solid, it would. If we expected the solid to flavor the liquid, it would. It never occurred to us that the most fundamental principles of chemistry and biology cared not what our intentions might be.
Clarity of stocks is an important thing, and is almost universally ignored. Some of us know, or at least have heard how to clarify a stock once it has been made. Few of us know what made clarification necessary in the first place. Most of us think it’s only cosmetic, which is pretty disappointing to me. Almost nobody seems to know that myoglobin and albumins are what gives stocks that flecked and even Caffe Latte clouded appearance, and that they have a significant effect on the flavor of the stock. Or for that matter, what myoglobin and albumins even ARE. Similarly, most of us have no idea that there are steps that can be taken to minimize the need for clarification of stocks, and that’s the real crime, if there is one.
Clarity Resolves Disparity
The fact is, the higher the temperature you use to make stock, the more myoglobin and albumins will circulate within it. If the stock never boils, they tend to populate the bottom of the stock pot. Still, eventually, they should be removed. Classically, egg whites and ground meat (with lots of raw albumins in it) would be carefully combined with the stock. The errant proteins would cling to the raw proteins that had been introduced, and this process actually formed a sort of raft on top of the simmering stock. The stock would carefully be passed through a fine cheesecloth to catch all that debris. I still do this sometimes.
Of course, this was before the invention of paper towels and coffee filters. Now, even a clean kitchen towel and a little patience works just fine to accomplish this task. If you make the stock via SV, under 183F, there will be much less debris to remove. The end result is not only attractive. A properly prepared stock can either replicate or at least rival any flavor that we are otherwise fond of. A strong beef stock has at least as much beef flavor as any steak.
Put the Missiles Back in the Hangars, at least until Christmas.
Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, I have frozen the surplus stuffing, and I still have quite a bit of turkey pasteurized, so that will be consumed at our leisure. When I processed the second turkey, I made another brown stock, even though I had plenty of turkey gravy. To consume space, I reduced what started out as about three gallons to about 12 oz. That is some powerful stuff, but it’s not a matter of boiling, boiling, and boiling some more. I didn’t complete the entire reduction process via SV, but I made the basic stock in the tank, in parts, which I will explain as we go, and it NEVER boiled.
I put the combined elements in a thick bottomed pot on the stove, and set it at just about 190F, which really isn’t that difficult on a basic stove. JUST under boiling, if you see a bubble up, just reduce slightly. I let it go all day, about 10 hours, turned it off, covered it and let it sit on the stove. Since I have a sleep disorder, it was still about 120F when I got back to it about five hours later. Then, I returned it to 190F, and it went about another 10 to achieve the desired volume.
Set your oven for 350F, and aim it at the center of the Sun.
- The bones only from one 20lb. bird, after 2 hours @350F.
- I bust’em up after a while, throw some legs in there, wing tips, whatever you got from further processing.
- Put the roasted bones in a Ziploc Gallon with enough water to cover.
- Process SV @183F for as long as you can bear to wait.
- 4 Hours at least.
- Onions, 2, whole.
- Celery, 4 stalks, thereabouts, depends on how much I have.
- Carrots, 3. Again, 2 would be enough, 4 won’t ruin it.
- Coat with turkey fat, if you got it, or some vegetable oil.
- This makes the vegetables caramelize, instead of just parch and scorch.
Rack’em Up, Turkey Man
- Roast two hours @350F, and you get this.
- This goes into 2 quarts of water, in a Ziploc Gallon bag, and into the SV tank @183F for at least four hours.
- Heck, turn it down to 140F after a while and leave it in there over night.
- The bag does not HAVE to be sealed, if you can keep the bag’s opening above water.
- Lipavi makes racks specifically designed to do that.
- They’re not cheap.
- They’re just really good.
- Good for cooling, smoking, refrigerating, lots of things.
- I love mine.
- I even turn them upside down sometimes to hold things under.
- San Marzano tomatoes are amazing.
- One 28 oz. can will cost you about $5.
- Remove the tomatoes and pour the liquid out on silicone or sprayed foil or sprayed parchment.
- It’s much thicker than other types of canned tomatoes…
- 170F overnight in the oven, and…
- You get this.
- I oven dried the tomatoes.
- 170F, overnight.
- No oil, salt, sugar, or herbs.
- All that stuff is a fluff.
- The oil goes rancid with all that acidity.
- Your oven dried tomatoes will taste like tomatoes.
- Isn’t that enough?
- Set them aside for another application.
- Under these conditions, you can see that the tomato not only gets very dark, but it is dry enough to chip, almost like paint.
- Remember that when we were kids?
- Pre-schoolers stopped keeling over once lead based paint was replaced by Latex.
- A few of the chips will stick to the silicone, and a little water will soak them off in a few minutes.
- Don’t scrape that silicone too hard.
- Recipes are expected to provide precise amounts, and that’s one of the problems with recipes.
- In this case, the tomato paper tells YOU how much water to use.
- Enough to dissolve it, as much as is easiest to handle.
- Not so much that it overflows.
- Prolly a quart, something like that.
- I showed this pic to my friend, and he told me I should clean out the aquarium more often.
- I can’t crack that guy up, but he can be pretty funny.
- Let it process in the tank @183F for at least a couple of hours.
- The bag does not HAVE to be sealed if you can keep the opening above water, and there are racks designed specifically to do this, made by my good friends at Lipavi.
- This is the broth that the dried tomato stuff made, after having been passed through a wet kitchen towel.
- Now, why would you use a wet towel?
- Because that way, the towel will not absorb any of the stock.
- There’s a little oil floating on top, because I sprayed the silicone, just to be sure nothing stuck.
- The oil will be removed later, there’s an easy way.
- Once the stock is refrigerated, all the fat will form a little raft on the top.
- Pops right off.
- Don’t bother skimming.
Dissolve your Vegetables.
- These are the vegetables from the stock made with only carrots, celery, and onions.
- I put them in a bucket.
- You’d be surprised, after a few minutes, almost a cup of stock will collect in the bottom.
- It can then be harvested, just poured off.
- In Vegas we used to say:
“Casino cooks throw away the food, and serve the garbage.”
- This is the vegetable stock, after being strained through a different, wet, kitchen towel.
- You know how I can tell?
- There’s a couple of pieces of celery floating in there.
- I purposely left them in there so there wouldn’t be any confusion.
- Just for the purposes of the demonstration, I strained the tomato stock through a fine sieve.
- You can see that the paste is still very red.
- Pretty amazing considering it all looked like chipping paint a couple of hours ago
- This is the stock made from the dried tomato sauce/paste/juice. Really deep, but it doesn’t taste burnt. It doesn’t have the full body that a stock should have, even if it’s just a vegetable stock that you’re making, but it beats pouring a bunch of soy sauce or caramel coloring in there.
- Some people believe you can create this effect with eggplant peel.
- Go ahead. Knock yerself out.
- And this is the basic stock from the roasted turkey bones.
- Suprisingly light in color, isn’t it?
- Thickened just as it is, it comes out like that lighter version of turkey gravy that a lot of places serve.
- That’s sort of a blanquette style, or veloute style.
- No shame in that.
- That’s good too, authentic.
- There’s a lot of flavor in this already.
- Now, we combine all three stocks.
- I do this part on the stove, even though the stock must NEVER actually boil.
- It will still reduce a little faster if we increase the surface area so H20 can escape.
- This process can take a while.
- I plan to dedicate up to 20 hours to get the result that I want.
- Eventually, it will really start to coat the pan, almost like when we make Balsamic Syrup.
- It CAN scorch, so keep that heat down, and use a heavy pot.
- NOT IRON.