Tuesday, September 20, 2005

An "Outrageous" Day

I am a God in the kitchen. :-)

Today I successfully mastered the art of chicken stock. Being a thrifty girl at times, I have tried over and over to make homemade chicken soup with homemade chicken stock. Yet I have always found my homemade stock to be SEVERELY lacking. It always tasted like a pot of nothing, and I have always had to add several scoops of chicken soup base. Until today. I loosely followed the directions given by Sara Moulton to make a brown chicken stock. And here is my process.

I started with the remains of two chickens I had made recently. I took two whole chickens and cut them myself into pieces. Then I took the backs, wings, necks and gizzards and tossed them in the freezer for later. It was those rejects that I used for the stock. After a quick defrost in the microwave, I seasoned the pieces with seasoned salt, pepper, and Penzey's Fox Point seasoning. I baked them in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes- flipping them over once. While that was roasting in the oven, I prepared my aromatics. I took 4 whole carrots, washed them and cut them into 4 chunks a piece- discarding the stem end. I also used 2 celery stalks- cut into 4 pieces each, 1 large onion, peeled and quartered, 2 bay leaves, 1/4 tsp whole peppercorns, and about 1/2 tsp dried thyme. I added the roasted chicken to this- leaving the juices and drippings in the roasting pan. Then I added water to cover the chicken and veggies, as well as a few healthy pinches of kosher salt.

Then I poured the drippings into a measuring cup and let that sit for a few minutes. Once it had settled I drained the fat off and added those fabulous juices to my stock pot. Then I used boiling water to deglaze my pan and added that to the stock pot as well. (I forgot to mention that I discarded the gizzards, hearts, and livers after roasting- I did not add those to my stock pot. ) Next, I brought my stock pot to a gentle boil and turned it down to simmer. The important part is here. I left it alone. About once an hour I would give it a gentle stir and a taste. At first, I was so disappointed, and thought I had better give it more time, adn while I was at it, I should add some more salt. Bingo. Every time I tasted, it tasted better and better. I am certain it was part patience, and part seasoning. The fact that I continued to add healthy pinches of kosher salt while it simmered away really brought out the flavors. After about 4 hours, I had myself a pot of chicken stock. :-) I strained out the chickens and veggies and tossed them- their flavors were gone.

I used the stock tonight to make some chicken soup for supper- it was the best chicken soup I ever had. It was just plain old chicken soup- but that stock is pure golden goodness. NOw I have a huge meal of soup ready to go in the freezer for another time AND I also have 2 quarts of homemade chicken stock in the freezer, ready and waiting. I am looking forward to repeating this many times, and having a plentiful supply of chicken stock on hand at all times. Yeah me!

It gets better!

I also made Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies. Oh my. Let me start off by saying that thses should be renamed "Oven Baked Fudge" because these brownies are absolute perfect fudgy goodness. I am not crazy about the edges- I may have overbaked them by 2 minutes or so, but once I trim away the crust, oh man. And of course, the recipe makes a sheet pan. Seriously. Ina calls for them to be cut into 20 brownies. I could easily get 60 out of this pan. A little goes a long way here for me. I love that this recipe can be made well ahead of time- Ina says up to a week ahead. And they must be refrigerated. If you make these- do not skip the refrigeration process, and above all, do not give in to temptation and sneak a taste warm- you will be sorely disappointed. And yes, these ingredients are correct. A pound of butter, pound of chocolate chips, 1 cup of flour...try it, you'll see. :-)

* Exported from MasterCook *
Outrageous Brownies
Pound unsalted butter
1 Pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350ยบ. Butter and flour a 12 x 18 x 1-inch baking sheet. Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.
In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter. Pour into the baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake! Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate, and cut into 20 large squares.
Description: "Makes 20 Large Brownies" - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

NOTES : Notes from Contessa: Flouring the chips and walnuts keeps them from sinking to the bottom. It is very important to allow the butter to cool well before adding the chocolate chips, or the chips will melt and ruin the brownies. This recipe can be baked up to a week in advance, wrapped in plastic and refrigerated


Cate said...

Sounds like you had a great day in the kitchen!

Lizzy said...

I'll never forget that story you told me! You should tell the story!!! :) What did you do with that one batch of chicken stock? I forget. ;) If you don't tell, I will!!!

Erika said...

Bad Lizzy! Bad Lizzy!