Dear Home Ec 101,
Thank you for making your lovely page about the French and Asian methods of cooking chicken stock. I have a question: If I have a long period of free time, can I cook the stock for longer than four hours. I’ll often have up to seven hours at a time. Is there any benefit to cooking longer? It seems like it would give more time for vegetable and chicken goop to turn into liquid, but I’m not sure if this is really true.
Simmering in Cincinnati
As long as you remember the difference between boiling and simmering and keep your chicken stock simmering, a long simmer is just fine. Chicken stock with a long, slow simmer does tend to have a richer quality to it. Since I work from home, it’s no big deal for me to throw the bones and vegetables in the stockpot first thing in the morning and then check on the chicken stock occasionally. I know that not everyone has that luxury.
If you have tested your slow cooker’s temperature range, it’s perfectly fine to use, as well. I just prefer using the stove where I have more fine-tuned control over the temperature so I can control the level of the simmer for my chicken stock.
Alton Brown’s recipe for chicken stock suggests simmering for 6 – 8 hours. When I shared the recipes for chicken stock, my intent was to make the concept seem as simple as possible without compromising results. Many people would look at a recipe with a 6 – 8 hour simmering time and write it off as impossible. You know and I know that simmering does not mean you have to hover over the pot, but there are those who don’t. My goal, here on Home Ec 101, is to take the intimidation factor out of the kitchen. Cooking is both a craft and an art, anyone can become competent in the kitchen, but there are also those who have a gift.
I digress, back to the question:
If you want to make chicken stock with an extended simmering time, you may find it necessary to add water during the process. It’s really no big deal, just keep an eye on it and if the water level drops below the bones, simply add enough hot water to get everything submerged again. The bones do need to stay submerged while the chicken stock is cooking so that all of the collagen and flavors can leach into the solution.
Just in case you weren’t sure, stocks made with a long-simmering time are also known as bone broth. You didn’t know you were trendy, did you?
Now, something to consider, if you want a clear stock, skip the vegetables if you want a long, slow simmer. Personally, I don’t care about clarity, but some people get really amped about having a clear chicken stock.
You do you.
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