07 February, 2011

Homemade Stock Concentrate

Some time ago, I bought a small jar of chicken stock concentrate by a company called Savory Basics.  It was the best stock concentrate EVER.  A little bit added to a homemade gravy really kicked up the flavor, and if I needed a really fast stock that truly tasted homemade, a spoonful dissolved in some simmering water yielded an instant broth that tasted like it had been cooking all day on a back burner. Wicked high quality, but as you can imagine, mad expensive for that little five-ounce jar - almost seven dollars.

Eventually, I used it all up, but I kept the jar for information purposes as I searched in vain for another one.  The company which made it, Sarliz LLC, has apparently gone out of business; their website clicks over to one of those "domain parking" pages, and when I dialed their phone number it came up as disconnected.  Too bad, because this was a really bitchin' product that I truly loved.

[Slight tangent:  Sarliz LLC was founded by former Nestle VP Bob Greene.  Mr. Greene, if you're out there reading this, I'm really sorry the marketplace didn't properly reward the awesomeness of Savory Basics stock.]

Anyway, for a long time I've pondered upon how to make a similar stock concentrate at home.  I wanted it to be somewhat shelf-stable but would settle for refrigerator-stable (something that could have a refrigerated shelf life measurable in months.)  I was thinking along the lines of a demi-glace on steroids, but because any single roasted meal usually produced such a limited amount of drippings with which to work, my ideas never got much past the planning phase.

Until I cooked that turducken. The long roasting time, triple-shot of poultry products, and loads of savory stuffing ingredients left me with a whopping quart and a half of rich and flavorful drippings topped with a massive load of poultry fat.  When the frankenbird had been removed from the roaster and carved and served with gravy made from a separate pot of poultry stock from the birds' bones and trimmings, I poured off the accumulated drippings into a big bowl and realized that I had enough to try making my own stock concentrate.

I started by removing most of the fat from the bowl of drippings, setting the fat aside for later use.  I deglazed the pan with the minimum amount of water needed for the job, then poured that off into a large round cake pan, to which I added the drippings, whisking all the while to make a smooth blend.  It was about the consistency of heavy cream.  From there, the cake pan went into the oven at 200F.

It stayed there for about five hours.  Every hour or so I would slide it out of the oven and poke at it with a spoon to check the consistency and make sure that it was simply evaporating and not burning.  I was finally left with a cake pan filled with a dark, tarry paste which was slightly tacky to the touch.  I tasted the smallest bit of it, smeared on the tip of a spoon.

It tasted amazing.  There was no bitterness from long cooking, no hint of char. I called Maryanne and Lynnafred in and they each tasted a bit.  Maryanne's eyes widened: "Wow.  That's rich."

"It's like you took all the flavor from all three birds and packed it into that pan," Lynnafred observed.  She hit it right on the head - that was exactly what I was going for.  Although a much darker color than the Savory Basics stock concentrate that I missed so much, I managed to capture the same effect.

The next step was a little trickier.  I scraped the concentrate back into a bowl and began working in salt and poultry fat, tasting tiny amounts smeared on the back of the spoon every so often to monitor the progress.  I wanted enough salt to act as a preservative and make the concentrate useful as a soup base and a seasoning, but not so much as to render it inedible.  It was trial and error and I had to go slowly because I didn't have more to fall back on if I made a mistake.   It took some time, but eventually the proper balance of rich roasted poultry flavor and salt was reached.  I tested it by stirring a teaspoon of the concentrate into a cup of boiling water and...it was perfect, giving me a cup of delicious, full-flavored poultry stock.  Huzzah!

When I packed away my homemade stock concentrate, it filled a half-pint jelly jar.  I've used it now and again, bringing a quick boost of additional flavor and awesomeness to soups, gravies, and sauces, and it never disappoints.  I use it sparingly, the same way I used my treasured Savory Basics stock concentrate, and it is serving me well.  I hope that when I finally run out I'm able to do it again.


Anonymous said...

this sounds like a great project for a weekend!

Alan said...

I never had the opportunity to use those stocks. Too bad a good business has gone under; like many. I commend you for making your own concentrate. That's no small feat, from what I can imagine. I guess it helps you appreciate the effort and helps explain the high price of the original stock.

Michael said...

Been doing that for years, except that with my attention span I ended up burning it half the time. I didn't salt it much and kept it in the fridge - it stayed good for an awful long time. Great stuff, ain't it.

dale said...

Another alternative might be to dehydrate it. Gail has been doing a lot of dehydrating of stuff to send to our son who is deployed in the Middle East.

simplyneb said...

This is a great idea! One thing that I do, and that you could try - if you have the freezer space - is to concentrate the stock to the point that it is still a liquid when warm, but very concentrated. I then pour that liquid into ice cube trays. Once the cubes are frozen, I put them into freezer bags, and just melt one or two into soups or the cooking water for rice, etc. I think I'll have to try your method at least once, though! :)

Jack from Waukesha said...


This concentrated stock product sounds a lot like what Penzey's sells...which I use all the time and is a great "cheater" product, especially for gravies and clear soups.