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I made my first chicken stock last week and bought some winglets from my local butcher. The winglets had a lot of meat on them and I wasn't sure whether to leave it on or not. The stock didn't come out so great so I'm wondering if it would help to strip the meat off the winglets.

This is the process I used to create the stock - I was following a recipe for a brown chicken stock:

In a chefs pan

  • Browned chicken (winglets were sliced down to the bone - meat still on though)
  • Added onions, garlic, mushrooms, bay leaves, thyme and peppercorns and softened
  • Drained chicken fat
  • Added everything into large saucepan with 2 litres cold water
  • Brought to boil
  • Skimmed scum off surface (never quite managed this, even after half an hour)
  • Reduced for 1:30 with several attempts to skim more scum off
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Could you outline how you prepared the stock? That will help us figure out where you went wrong. Bits of meat shouldn't do anything more than add flavour (and possibly cloudiness, though for home applications this usually isn't a concern). –  daniel Nov 4 '10 at 11:39
    
Also helpful would be what the stock is being used for. A consomme, for example, would be a different use than for making sauces or homemade soup. –  justkt Nov 4 '10 at 13:41
    
And it seems like we're all guessing "didn't come out so great" means "not much flavor" - is that it, or was it fat or protein scum? –  Jefromi Nov 4 '10 at 18:47
    
The flavour was definitely not great :) There seemed to be 2 problems, the amount of oil left and a strange bitter tang. –  opsb Nov 7 '10 at 19:44

2 Answers 2

Meat can add a lot of good flavor to a stock, but it can cause a lot of "scum" to form, so you have to be more diligent in your skimming, otherwise you get cloudiness. The bigger problem with winglets is that they're mostly skin, which equals fat, which is generally not a good thing for stock. Again, though, there's a way to fix it: refrigerate the stock, then remove the fat that solidifies on top.

Other than that, there are the usual bits of advice-

  • Add a whole onion, skin on - the skin provides good color
  • Add flavorful vegetables: carrots and carrot-shaped root veggies, celery stalks
  • Cook low and slow
  • Do add spices (whole peppercorns, whole allspice), but don't go overboard with them
  • When scum starts to form, skim it off with a strainer or a spoon, whichever works better for you
  • Did I mention cooking low and slow?
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Also a bit of tomato paste can add some really good flavor. Bay leaves are also a good enhancement. –  justkt Nov 4 '10 at 13:40
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@justkt- at that point you can just add a couple potatoes and call it dinner. :) –  Sobachatina Nov 4 '10 at 13:41
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Starting with cold water, and cooking low + slow + long helps to combat scum. I always use bones with meat bits (more flavour), and rarely have a problem with scum. –  Bruce Alderson Nov 4 '10 at 23:26
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Starting stock from cold water is an old wives' tale, debunked by Herve This (or possibly Harold McGee, can't remember which). The only real reason to use cold water is that hot water dissolves more particulates from old pipes. –  daniel Nov 5 '10 at 1:00
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Anyway, I agree that the use of winglets was probably the main issue here; you don't need to strip the meat, but you want to use bones that are mostly, well, bone. That means backs, necks, and breast bones. –  Aaronut Nov 8 '10 at 21:16

Leaving meat on bone while boiling down for stock isn't ideal for a soup stock. The meat overcooks and creates the "bitter" taste you were talking about. Ideally you should use bones, cleaned of skin and meat to your best ability, and boil them in a pot nearly full of water for two hours. Remove bones and boil stock down until it is approx half it's original volume then pass through a fine sieve to remove excess chunks. Then place the stock in a glass bowl and refridgerate over night, the following day you should have a fairly clear stock with a white fatty film on top. Remove this film with a spatula and then use the stock for soup (add meat while cooking) or freeze for later use. When making soup you can add a few cups of water for a larger volume of soup. The stok will be very strong so don't worry about diluting it!

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You can keep the stock in the fridge for a couple of weeks. If you do this, leave the cap of fat on until you need it. Throw away the fat before use though. –  slim Jan 12 '11 at 13:07

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