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Stocks: Chicken, Vegetable & Shrimp

Kwame Onwuachi

Lesson time 28 min

Looking for the secret of how to get your food to taste better than everyone else’s? Kwame will show you how. Stocks are the foundation of cooking, the building blocks of flavor and cuisine. Learn how to make chicken stock, shrimp stock, and vegetable stock, and you’ll instantly elevate your food.

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– I’m in Jamaica, the beautiful island. I don’t know what I’m gonna cook yet, but I need some stocks. That’s the foundation for most of my cooking. A stock can be a building block for what you wanna make, and it can reinforce so many flavors. You always wanna use stock when there’s water. You never want to put just water in something because water has zero flavor, so it’ll take it out. So you wanna continue to build your flavors, and a stock is a great way to do that. So today we’re gonna make chicken stock, vegetable stock, and shrimp stock. So I always like to have a lot of flavor in my chicken stock. And one way to do that is to roast your bones before you even make the stock. So we’re gonna add some chicken backs and a whole chicken. We’re gonna put in the oven at about 500 degrees. If your oven doesn’t go to 500, put it on its highest setting so we can get a nice brown even layer on it. I’m also gonna drizzle some oil onto it and that’ll help speed up that process a little bit. Canola oil’s best, some neutral oil. You don’t want to oil with low smoking point. You know, you want something that can withstand the heat. I’m gonna pop this straight in the oven. I’ve already preheated it to 500. So this should take about, you know, 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how brown you wanna get it. So now I’m gonna cut all my vegetables for my stock. It’s always good to have things in place, or we call it mise en place in the kitchen. So I’m gonna grab my carrots. Grab some onions. Just put that right there. Couple cloves of garlic. So here we have your basic vegetables for a mirepoix. You have your onions, your carrots, your celery, and you have some garlic. We have some leeks for the vegetable stock, and I’ll probably throw some green onions, ’cause we’re in Jamaica. Now the thing about these three different stocks is they cook at different times, different length of times. So you want the vegetables to be different sizes. The vegetable stock is pretty quick, so it’ll be the smallest vegetable dice. The shrimp stock is a little bit longer, so they’ll be a little bit bigger. And then the chicken stock will just be large chunks, ’cause that’s gonna roll for a while. I’m just gonna take my peeler, just peel these. It’s funny, like depending on whatever country you’re in, like the carrots, the vegetables will look a little bit different. You know, normally our carrots in America are really long and straight, and these are a little bit wobbly, but they’re all the same. They all taste the same. Really, really great product. See how easy that is? That’s the ticket right there. All right, so I’m gonna chop these up into just large chunks for the chicken stock. I’m gonna slice it for the shrimp stock, and then I’m just gonna like chop it even finer. You know, it doesn’t need to be a particular dice, but it just needs to be smaller so all of those flavors can be released. For the vegetable stock, that’s substantially quicker than the rest of them. These are normally the vegetables you do with the stock. You can use whatever vegetable scraps you have, too, to make a stock. You know, if you don’t have all of these, it’s fine. You just wanna get something that’s a little bit more, has more intense flavor than water. So the onion, just gonna take these top out, kinda like where it sprouts up. I’m gonna just quarter it. And this is for the chicken stock. So, like I said, all the vegetables for the chicken stock can be fairly large. The other ones are the ones that you really wanna cut down to release more of that flavor. I’m gonna leave this bottom on so it holds it together. And then I’m gonna dice it for the vegetable stock. I crosshatched the onion so I can slice it easier. It just creates more uniform dices. So I’m gonna move on to the celery. We wanna make sure your celery is clean. This is pretty clean already. I’m not gonna use the heart or the leaves. They get sometimes a little bit bitter when they cook for a long time. I’m just gonna cut these top leaves off of this. Then I’m gonna rough chop this once again for the chicken stock. Easy. Boom, boom, boom. I’m gonna slice it for the shrimp stock. And then I’m gonna dice it very, very small again for this vegetable stock. I’m gonna cut it into nice strips. All right, it’s goin’ right in there. So I’m just gonna add some leeks to my vegetable broth. I always like adding leeks. It gives a nice oniony flavor. You gotta think that the vegetable broth doesn’t have protein in it. So you need to add a little bit more oomph to it so you can, you know, build flavors on these vegetable based dishes. So the leek is only for the vegetable broth. So leeks are notoriously dirty on the inside. We’ll see what this looks like. Wow. These are very clean vegetables. Normally underneath these layers, ’cause it grows from the dirt, it hides them in there. Gonna give this a rinse anyway. I don’t trust it. Wanna make sure you’re getting in these layers. So you can just bunch these together like that, and then slice them thin. So the difference between a stock and a broth is a broth is just a fortified stock. A stock is the base level. So it’s normally vegetables, some sort of, you know, animal bone or just a vegetable that’s cooked for a long time to release those, you know, all the collagen and all the flavor that’s in those ingredients. And then a broth is when you introduce meat to it, and then you continue to season that stock. So those are the two differences. So I’m gonna add some garlic to each of these. I’m just gonna take the head and cut it right down the middle. So I need to check the chicken for a second, see how it’s going, see if there’s enough color on it. So it looks like it needs more time. You want it to be golden brown on the whole bird as well as the bones. The bones are caramelizing really nicely already. So, you know, the bird just has to catch up. So you always wanna move as you’re going and work with intention. So I’m gonna start with the vegetable stock, ’cause while that’s simmering, I can peel my shrimp and then move right into that. I’m gonna add the vegetables right to the pot. I’m gonna add some thyme, fresh thyme. It’s a beautiful thing about being in Jamaica. It’s just everywhere. Little rinse. Add some peppercorns, not too much. And some parsley. You can use any parsley. This is curly leaf parsley, but you can use Italian parsley. Doesn’t really matter. I’m gonna fill this up to like just above the vegetables with water. And we’re gonna let that simmer. I’m just gonna add a couple bay leaves to this. So I’m gonna get the shrimp, and peel them. Now, I like to like utilize everything in my kitchen. You know, when I’m making shrimp all throughout the month, I’ll save all these shells in the freezer, and at the end, I’ll make a large batch of shrimp stock so I can have it for so many different things. Whenever I’m working with meat, I just like to use gloves. These shrimp have been already cut down the back, so it makes it a lot easier to peel. So normally you would cut it down the back, you’d scrape out the little membrane inside, and that’s how you clean the shrimp. I grab the shrimp like this, and I pull down and then pinch the bottom. This is like one of the first things I learned how to do, was peel shrimp with my mom. She has a Creole background as well. So we use a lot of shrimp stock in everything. So peeling shrimp was, I would say, my first job. So now I’m gonna put this in the fridge. I’ll use this for something else another day, but for now, we’re talking shrimp stock. So I’ve got my mirepoix. I’ve got my shrimp shells. I’ve got my tomato paste. And this is just any tomato paste you can grab at the grocery store. Gonna get a spatula, and my pot. And the pot, you know, you want it to be the size that’s appropriate for what you’re cooking in it. I’m gonna just slide this beautiful vegetable stock to the back. I’m gonna turn this on high. What I’m gonna do is I’m gonna create a pinsage, which means I’m gonna caramelize these shrimp bodies in tomato paste. It’s gonna intensify the flavor of the tomato paste as well. While this is heating, I’m gonna get some water. So I’m gonna add my shrimp shells right to this. I’m gonna add my tomato paste next. I’m gonna saute this, and you’re gonna see the shrimp shells already starting to get pink. You want them to caramelize a little bit, bring not the sweetness in the shells and all that flavor. There’s so much flavor in shrimp shells, and people throw them out. It’s such a waste. The red tomato paste has turned like a nice rusty color. That’s when you know it’s time to add the vegetables. You want these vegetables to sweat a little bit, and then we’ll add our water, our peppercorns and our bay leaves. So sweating the vegetables is just like releasing the natural juices from them. You don’t want any color on them. You just want them to like come a little bit tender, a little bit translucent, and that’s when you know they’re ready to go. So if you don’t have shrimp, don’t trip. You can use bones from, you know, any fish to really make this. The heads of fish are really, really great. Anything you’re discarding from the fish that’s not the guts you can use in a stock really easily. You can already see it’s starting to get a little bit translucent. That’s what we’re looking for. That’s the spirit. That’s the magic. It’s looking nice. I’m gonna add my water to this now. You wanna cover it with water, so you wanna get enough water to cover all of these shrimp bodies and vegetables. I’m gonna add some parsley to this, some peppercorns, and some bay leaves. I’m also gonna pick some thyme, and put this with my mirepoix. So now that this shrimp stock is simmering, you don’t want it to boil, ’cause that will like release all the impurities. You wanna have a very, very like translucent broth at the end of this. So I have my veg stock going. I have the shrimp stock going. It’s time to finish this chicken stock. So I’m gonna check on this chicken and all these bones. Oh my God. It’s perfect. I’m gonna take this chicken, pop it right in there. Jesus Christ, it’s hot. I’m gonna put some of these backbones. I’ll nestle them right around this bird, this beautiful bird. Now, you can save all this chicken fat put it in so many different things All these bits. And just cover this chicken with it. It may not all fit. It’s all right. You just put it all in there, as much as you possibly can. It will cook down, so you can have it popping up a little bit. I’m gonna add some peppercorns, some of this parsley. All right, you know I gotta add some thyme and some bay leaves. Just wanna cover all the vegetables and all the chicken with water. So every chicken stock I make always has the secret ingredient that definitely boosts the collagen in the chicken stock. It makes it more richer. It’s chicken feet. Once again, another product that’s normally thrown out. It adds so much richness to the stock. It adds a velvety texture to the stock. So when it reduces down, you have this this like high sheen, high gloss from all the gelatin. So if you did this on a rack, you’ll see that there’s these like bits that have caramelized on the bottom. That’s the fond, and this is gold, all right? So I’m gonna pour off this schmaltz, save that for something else. And then I’m just gonna add a little bit of hot water to this. Could even use some of this vegetable stock since it’s hot already. I’m gonna put this right on the tray, and then just scrape it. You’re not gonna get all of it. It’s all right. All of this is really good flavor. So the fond is like the caramelization of the proteins from that bird that has dripped down, and it’s like an intensified chicken flavor. So think about chicken bouillon. It’s pretty much that on this sheet tray that I’m gonna pour into this stock. And that’s gonna give this a flavor boost. And that’s why your food’s gonna taste better than everyone else’s, man. That’s it. These stocks are looking great. It’s time to strain them and use them for everything. We’re gonna see what we cook. I don’t know we’re gonna cook yet, but I know we need to start here. I’m gonna start with this vegetable broth. First, I’m just gonna strain it with this colander to get most of the bits out, and then strain it again. I like to strain my stocks twice. Push some of this flavor through that’s locked in these vegetables. You see why I strained it twice. If you have a fine mesh strainer that’s big enough, you can put it through that first. But I like to be meticulous with this, and this smells amazing. This is just gonna fortify anything you wanna cook, you know, and that’s the beautiful thing about stocks. There it is. You have beautiful vegetable stock to fortify all your vegetable dishes. I’m gonna put this over to the side to cool, and we’re gonna work on the shrimp stock. Same thing. Just gonna lift this up. Ooh. Careful. I’m gonna do the same exact thing. Double strain it right into your mason jar. And you see, this has a nice red hue, and that’s from the tomato paste as well as caramelizing those shrimp shells. So I’m gonna let these cool while I let the chicken stock continue to simmer. The chicken stock should be ready. Let’s strain it. Oh man, this is gorgeous. It’s gorgeous. There’s something about making chicken stock that makes me always very, very happy. I think it’s because like, it’s like the first thing you learn in culinary school. It was one of the first things like my mom taught me how to make, so it’s a foundation of cooking, and we’ll use it a lot here. First, I’m gonna skim off some of this fat. I just want the stock, so I’m skimming this fat off of it. And all this fat naturally comes out of the skin, and then some of the meat as well. I strained it once through the calendar to get some of the bigger pieces out, and we’re gonna it through a fine mesh strainer. Bang, bang. And this meat in here, you can use that for something else. You know, you can actually make a chicken soup straight from this, and pick that meat, and put it back in. Make sure you let these cool off a little bit before you put them in the fridge. You honestly can put them right in the fridge, just with the lid off. So you can freeze these. You wanna change the container for sure. Put it in something plastic or more manageable. You can also like put it in an ice cube tray, so you have like perfect portions to make sauces on the fly. You have your veg stock, your shrimp stock, and your roasted chicken stock. Now these are the building blocks of cuisine in general, but these are the building blocks of my kitchen.

About the Instructor

Kwame Onwuachi started peeling shrimp and stirring roux at 5 years old in his mother’s catering kitchen in the Bronx. The James Beard Award-winning chef has received many accolades since then, including FOOD & WINE’S Best New Chef, Esquire Magazine’s 2019 Chef of the Year, 30 Under 30 honoree by both Forbes and Zagat, and has appeared on Bravo’s Top Chef as both a contestant and judge. In his class, Onwuachi embraces the richness of Afro-Caribbean culture and cuisine, and teaches students how to cook his favorite Jamaican recipes.

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