I can see clearly now!

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For me, soup is a comfort food. It provides a warm hug while filling your tummy with a nourishing, hearty meal all in one pot. So, understanding the base of all good soup is important to me and I took Unit Seven to heart. I learned about both white and dark stock as well as the differences between short stock and regular stock, and broth and stock. I gained detailed knowledge about the importance of stock in cooking, the ingredients that generally go in to making stock, how to make stock, and how not to, and how to make broth–all the while learning ways to incorporate stock and broth into recipes. More…

For me, soup is a comfort food. It provides a warm hug while filling your tummy with a nourishing, hearty meal all in one pot. So, understanding the base of all good soup is important to me and I took Unit Seven to heart. I learned about both white and dark stock as well as the differences between short stock and regular stock, and broth and stock. I gained detailed knowledge about the importance of stock in cooking, the ingredients that generally go in to making stock, how to make stock, and how not to, and how to make broth–all the while learning ways to incorporate stock and broth into recipes.

It turns out that not only does good stock make good soup, it makes good food as well. It is at the foundation of good sauces, gravies, grains, and more. At the heart of stock is a simple clear stock, and our first graded assignment in this unit.

To set up my mise en place, I rinsed 6 pounds of chicken bones thigh bones, cut up my mirepoix which consisted of two onions and one leek, along with three carrots and three celery ribs. This resulted in a three-to-one ratio. My bouquet garni included ten sprigs of flat leaf parsley, five sprigs of thyme, a few celery leafs, two bay leafs, which I set aside to be tucked into stock during the last hour of simmering along with a tsp of salt and two tsp of black peppercorn. I added four liters of cold water to the chicken bones (enough to cover bones by one to two inches), heating over medium heat.

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As the water came to a simmer, impurities started to come to the surface. At this point, I turned down the heat to low as to make sure that the liquid did not come to boil. With a gentle hand and large spoon, I skimmed the top of the water’s surface to remove the scum. I continued skimming quite consistently for the first half hour to 45 minutes (and periodically over the next four hours). I added the mirepoix after about 45 minutes of simmering but not before skimming the surface with great detail for impurities as it is much easier to do before the veg is added. After a little over three hours, I added the herbs, salt, and pepper to the simmering stock. In total, the liquid simmered for a little over four hours. Once done, using a spider, I removed all the bones, veg, and herbs. I strained the liquid and then strained it again with cheesecloth as well. I put the stock into an ice bath in my sink to cool it down so that I could put it in the fridge for storage. I stirred the stock in its container as well to aid in the cooling down process.

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After straining and cooling down the stock, I put it in the fridge overnight. In the morning, I removed a fat layer that had formed. The completed stock, when warmed up, had a comforting aroma and seemed pretty clear. The cold stock was quite gelatinous and giggly. After taking the picture below, I sipped on the liquid gold while writing this post. While I can see many applications for adding this stock to, it was really good all on its own!

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The rest of the unit was helpful in learning all types of stock and broth and how to utilize them in the best way. There was a graded essay, reorder assignment, in addition to many practice lessons. I have been remiss in saying, but I have been doing quite well on my graded assignments, quizzes, and exams. My instructor has been helpful, encouraging, and insightful in regards to my work. I am really starting to feel like I can not only do this, but do this well 🙂

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