Lock, Stock, and Pho Ga.

April 3rd 2013

Who’s got a freezer full of chicken bones, some veg, a stock pot, and three hours? This gal! Yes that’s right I am making stock today. A basic chicken stock is a skill that imperative for the home cook. If you buy the box….we all have, its okay…you really lose out on all the flavor and money saving that can be utilized with this simple technique. There are plenty of good recipes out there, but as with most cooking it should become something you don’t need to look at a recipe for and that you can mix whatever you have on hand to make your own concoction. I have three rotisserie chicken carcasses I’ve kept in the freezer, some beet greens, a bag of pork trimmings, tops to some carrots, half a onion, 5 cloves of garlic, knob of ginger, celery hearts, green onions, thyme, green (tough) part of leeks…you see I used to watch Jaques Pepin’s PBS cooking show when I was young (the one where he cooked with his daughter, who was lacking in the skills department), one of the episodes he just went off on the most awesome tangent about utilizing everything in the kitchen, vegetable peelings, citrus peels, etc. It was awesome, and never has Jaques advice gone on deaf ears, just watching him was so inspiring to me and I basically learned that stock is way to get the flavor out of the inedibles and upcycle them into something that is awesome…STOCK! Depending on what you are going for you can switch ingredients as you see fit. I’m using my stock to make Pho Ga (chicken Pho) so I will adding star anise, fish sauce, a little palm sugar and a few other Vietnamese ingredients, if you are making more of a traditional stock you don’t need to make these additions. I am currently obsessed with Vietnamese cookery right now, so I am making mine in “Pho” style. IMG_4416

add water add water

Fill your stock pot with your ingredients….add cold water….put on stove over medium high…don’t boil it! Boiling makes your stock cloudy….you must adjust temp to keep at a consistent simmer. Keep an eye on it….skim any gross looking crud off the top…after three hours of this, drain and strain. I like to refrigerate mine overnight so that any remaining crud and fat rises to the top, solidifies, and can be easily removed (also note: Your stock should now have a soft set “Jello” like jiggle…that is collagen which is a good thing)…now its party time!
after refridgeration, remove fat after refridgeration, remove fat
Go to your local Asian market and get some rice sticks (fresh if available), Mung bean sprouts, peppers, limes, green onions, hoison, sambal, sciracha, chili garlic oil, herbs, and any other toppins you prefer, here again there is no one way to personal, pho pleasure, you can choose your own adventure. You can add meat if you want, or tofu, or just veg…I use some skin on, bone in chicken breast, I just roast em’, and shred…you can save the bones for your next batch of stock. You simply heat your broth, soak your rice stick, unless you can find fresh ones then you can skip that step, portion the noodles, add broth and toppins….kinda genius if you need to cook for a crowd, or do your prep in advance. Mine however, was still not quite as good as the place by my house…I would work there for free just to learn how they do it.IMG_4440