Update 10: New Year's Goal: Become an "official" Gourmess by August 2010

I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate. --Julia Child

As promised, this weekend was about stocks: Session 3, Demonstration #1: Fond de Volaille Blanc (White Chicken Stock). I had the option to do chicken or veal, and since I found chicken bones more easily, I went that route.

Chris and I were on a mission to find the bones for this and also the brown stock --I needed 6.5 pounds of chicken bones for the white stock and 11 pounds of beef bones for the brown. It took longer than we thought. We went to the local butcher shop -- and surprisingly, they didn't have any, which I thought was disappointing. But, trips to Whole Foods and Kings grocery stores saved the day -- I put the beef bones in the freezer for later in the week as making that one takes and estimated 10-13 hours (!!!!). As for the fish stock, which seems to be the easiest, clocking in at 1 hour to complete, I am thinking I will wait until closer to summer when we can get fresh fish and more importantly, I can open the windows, as I don't think my neighbors would appreciate. (I think fish stock is generally a no-no for apartment living.) So, will revisit that probably when I get to the fish/shellfish sessions later on in the book.

Stocks take a lot of time--and I didn't have much of that this weekend. We had dinner plans on Saturday and an all day pass to a film festival today, so I couldn't leave anything at home on the stove. So, thinking ahead, I cleaned the bones, cut the vegetables yesterday and and then actually cooked the stock tonight. Basically I covered the bones with water -- 2 inches above them, got to a low simmer, added the vegetables and herbs and some garlic, and let it simmer for 2.5 hours or so. It was frothy at first, but slowly cleared and smelled divine.

Estimated time to complete was 4 hours, which is about how long it took me, if you add in the time it took to clean the bones (remove fat, skin, blood--ick!), make the bouquet garni, and cut the celery, onions and carrots for the mirepoix. The kitchen still smells of bubbly goodness --I made sure to not let the stock boil --it quietly simmered, and I faithfully skimmed the foam and grease that kept rising to the top.

The stock is cooling now. I will continue to skim the grease/impurities, but so far, it looks pretty much like the chicken stock I buy: slightly golden yellow, just about clear --and a nice chickeny flavor. So, in my unofficial opinion, I think this was a success.

Now for the beef version...