September 18th, 2003

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Soup yet?

I spent most of yesterday making my chicken stock. I was thinking that the amazing stock pot I got from Amazon a while ago might hold nine quarts, but it turns out that it is, indeed 12 quarts! So, starting with four pounds of chicken wings, appropriate seasonings and two gallons of water, I have been simmering all night long. This morning, I finally was able test some of the chicken bones (the largest in the wings, anyway) and have them crumble easily signifying that all the connective tissue in them has been dissolved into the water.

Then began the tricky part. As our hero Alton Brown says, I'd spent the better part of the night making a liquid that was low in acidity and high in nutrients. What was I thinking!? This thing was a bacterial time bomb waiting to cool below 150F for the nasties to set in and cause who knows what kind of havoc!

AB's prescription for this problem is to decant the stock into two smaller saucepans and place them in an ice bath in a cooler. (Putting it straight into the refrigerator will serve to only heat up everything inside and drive up one's electric bill.) Well, I don't really have any large coolers. I do, however, have a large metal mixing bowl. I also have, stashed in the garage, a couple of big styrofoam boxes from our good friend Lou Malnati. So I decanted the stock into a big mixing bowl, placed it in the impromptu cooler and added as much ice as I had on hand. Not a lot really, so I augmented with cold water, hoping that thermal mass and greater contact would make up for a lack of ice.

The stock is currently at 86F and dropping slowly. The box is closed, however, so there is little chance that wandering bacteria will drop by. When it gets down to 40F, it'll go into the fridge for the night. tomorrow the schmaltz comes off and the stock itself forms the base of soup. What I don't need for soup for Saturday will get poured into muffin tins and frozen so I'll have small servings of it on hand for ... whatever.
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