This post is dedicated to loyal reader Jason. Jason asked me what I thought of this recipe for "Perfect" Pressure Cooker Chicken Stock, from Kyle Connaughton by way of Heston Blumenthal's test kitchen.
Perfect Pressure Cooker Chicken Stock [saveur.com]
My initial reaction was mixed. They were not bragging when they said "Perfect". This is an attempt to make the ultimate stock. I found myself asking: "Why so fussy?" Why buy specific ingredients to make stock, like chicken wings and ground chicken? My goal with pressure cooker stock is to use things up. I take scraps and leftovers, add a few aromatics, and turn them into a delicious base for future meals. *Making stock feels like culinary sleight of hand. I use scraps that would normally be discarded, and turn them into a stock far better than any of that "broth" they sell in a can at the grocery store.
Even though his recipe looked finicky, I was intrigued by Mr. Connaughton's explanations. Why does a pressure cooker makes such good stock? Why did he make specific choices in the ingredients and technique? He explains it all. By the time I was done reading, I wanted to try some of the tricks in Mr. Connaughton's recipe. Making stock from my leftover Thanksgiving turkey was the perfect opportunity.
*Also, I wanted to try out my Kuhn Rikon Family Stockpot with a whole turkey carcass. It swallowed it easily, with enough room to spare to squeeze a second carcass in if I wanted to. Wow. Every other pressure cooker I've owned needed the turkey carcass broken up to fit in the pot. I'm loving the Kuhn Rikon more and more.
The first trick I wanted to use is thin-slicing the aromatics. Mr. Connaughton says thin slicing increases the surface area, which helps extract more flavor from the aromatics.
*He uses chicken wings in his stock for the same reason - smaller bones mean better flavor extraction.
The second trick is adding a cup of white wine to the pot. I've done this in the past; I learned my turkey stock recipe from Cooks Illustrated, and they always added white wine to their turkey stock. I stopped doing it when I went to the pressure cooker method; I assumed the wine flavor would get lost under pressure. Also, I didn't want to open a bottle of wine just to make stock. According to Mr. Connaughton, I was making a mistake. Wine was going back into the recipe.
*Even better, I had a half bottle of white wine left over from Thanksgiving. No wasted wine!
These two simple tricks were worth the effort. The wine adds a hint of fruit and acid to the turkey flavor in the stock. I used the stock in a simple turkey noodle soup, and I re-filled my bowl three times.
*Okay, maybe four times.
I know I'm adding some extra steps here. One of the advantages to my original recipe is its simplicity. But, if you have leftover turkey bones and want to make the ultimate pressure cooker stock, this is the technique to use.
*And yes, I will eventually try the Perfect Pressure Cooker Chicken Stock recipe as written. But right now, I'm set with stock. I had two turkey carcasses left over. I made twelve quarts of stock. I'm out of freezer containers!
- 8 to 12 quart Pressure Cooker (I use this one: Kuhn Rikon 12-Quart Family Stockpot Pressure Cooker)
- Carcass from a roasted turkey (I had the bones from a 12 lb bird)
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 medium onions, trimmed, peeled, and sliced thin
- 2 large carrots, trimmed, peeled and sliced thin
- 1 large leek, white and light green parts, trimmed, peeled, rinsed carefully, and sliced thin (or substitute 2 bay leaves)
- 6 quarts of water, or just enough to cover the ingredients
1. Prep and fill the pressure cooker: Put the turkey carcass in the pressure cooker. (If you have a smaller pressure cooker, you may have to break the carcass into a few pieces to get it to fit.) Add the white wine and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer while you clean and slice the vegetables. Add the sliced vegetables to the pot, and add water to cover the turkey by about 1 inch.
2. Pressure cook the stock: Lock the lid on the pressure cooker, increase the heat to high, and bring the cooker up to high pressure. Lower the heat to maintain the pressure at high and cook for 45 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, and allow the pressure to release naturally, usually about 20 minutes.
*Make sure you read your pressure cooker manual for the details of how to lock the cooker and bring it up to pressure. Every model does things a little differently. Also, because of all the water in the cooker, it will take longer to come up to pressure and cool down.
4. Defat the stock: (Optional) Refrigerate the stock overnight, or up to 2 days, so the fat floats to the surface and forms a hard cap. Remove the fat cap from the top of the stock.
5. Use or freeze the stock: Use the stock immediately, or freeze for later use. I portion the stock into both 1 quart and 2 cup containers for freezing; see the picture at the top of the post.
*Add some herbs - if I have them on hand, I add a quarter bunch of parsley or parsley stems, and/or a sprig of fresh thyme. I wouldn't use rosemary, because it can be overpowering.
*Add some garlic - Adding a clove or two of garlic to the broth gives it a nice flavor.
**I don't add any salt when I make stock. That means, when I use it, I cannot forget to add salt. If I don't add it, whatever I'm cooking will taste flat. (Especially if the recipe is depending on all the extra sodium that store-bought stock contains.) Remember, seasoning to taste is the key to good cooking.
*White wine - I avoid Chardonnay, which is usually made with a lot of oak. I prefer whatever cheap white wine I can find beyond that; I tend to gravitate towards Pinot Grigiot and Sauvignon Blanc, mainly because I like them, and I don't mind having ⅔rds of a bottle left over.
*One of the keys to cooking is staying calm. A glass of wine works wonders when I'm facing a disaster in the kitchen.
*Don't have a pressure cooker? Make stock in your oven for a long, slow, even simmer. Use the ingredients from this recipe with the following technique: Turkey Stock Done Right.
*What to do with all that stock? It's time to make soup! See the Related Posts section for ideas.
Questions? Comments? Other ideas? Secret ingredients in your stock recipe? Leave them in the comments section below.
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