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Why would you cleave your chicken, bones, into pieces when you are making stock? I just throw whats left of my chicken in a pot with some vegetables bring it to a boil and then simmer away for an hour, am I missing something?

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I don't think that an hour is long enough to actually break down all of the collagen, especially if you don't chop the bones. Does your stock turn to a jelly-like consistency when it cools? –  Aaronut Nov 8 '10 at 20:56
    
Not usually, but I have had it happen before. –  Varuuknahl Nov 8 '10 at 22:02

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

To release the bone marrow, which is excellent source of protein and has medicinal properties.

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True, but not everyone likes the marrow taste –  TFD Nov 8 '10 at 10:08
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I can't vouch for the medicinal qualities, but it allows the collagen in the marrow to be dissolved, which will make for a "more luxurious mouthfeel" (that's how I've heard it described, I have no idea how else to explain it). –  Joe Nov 8 '10 at 14:34
    
is it bad that I just simmer mine until it comes apart on its own? Marrow is supposed to be very good for you. –  Manako Nov 8 '10 at 14:58
    
@Manako: Nothing wrong with that, some people even simmer their stock overnight. The whole point of making stock is to draw out all of that wonderful collagen and break it down into gelatin, and the longer you simmer, the more of it you'll get (until it's all used up, that is). –  Aaronut Nov 8 '10 at 20:58
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@TFD: If you don't want the fat then skim it. That is how stock is supposed to be made! The texture of stock, AKA the "luxurious mouth feel", comes from collagen, which denatures into gelatin - not from fat. –  Aaronut Nov 9 '10 at 16:36

The collagen released from the chicken bone marrow is what gives the soup body; It's why the soup feels more substantial in your mouth than a spoonful of water. As the stock cooks, the collagen breaks down into gelatin, if your not seeing this, you may need to cook the stock for longer.

Obviously if you don't break the bones, the marrow cannot be released. That having been said, a large amount of fat is also released from the marrow which later has to be separated from the finished stock. I have made perfectly excellent soup without bones, in fact Cooks Illustrated suggested using ground chicken which contains no bones or marrow (albeit with some prepared stock).

I suggest you find a traditional stock recipe and follow it's instructions. You may find that you've been missing something, or that you like your current recipe more.

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