Taking stock

Even easier chicken stock, the glories of corned beef, egg foo yung and more...

St. Patrick’s day brought a lot of corned beef, and while we got our boiled dinner from the restaurant Chez Pascal, the above was cured by Abe Dane in Providence. His wife Jan, who owns the excellent cooking store Stock Culinary Goods down the street from Chez Pascal, emailed me that Abe makes my recipe every year and how excellent it is. It’s actually from Brian Polcyn, and we published it in Charcuterie. I’ve also posted it on my site. No reason not to give corning a go. And if you have a smoker or even a charcoal grill you can turn that corned beef into pastrami!

Even easier than my overnight chicken stock…

I’m not anti store-bought chicken stock if you can find a good quality organic stock in a box, but I am very pro home-stock making. There’s nothing more wasteful in the kitchen than throwing out the carcass of a chicken. Homemade chicken stock, like homemade mayonnaise, is something you just can’t buy at a store.

I’ve tried to simplify the process in my book From Scratch in a recipe called “Easy Overnight Chicken Stock,” which my wife, Ann, swears by: simply put the carcass in a pot with two carrots, an onion, halved but skin and all, and a bay leaf, cover with water, and pop it in a 190˚F to 200˚F oven overnight, or for eight hours. Strain.

Then last week a friend, Laurence Edelman, chef and co-owner of The Left Bank in NYC’s West Village, as well as the rotisserie chicken side business, Poulet Sans Tête, made it even easier. He created a stock kit that he sells so that it’s super easy to make a great stock from your Poulet Sans Tête chicken carcass: aromatics, cut vegetables, and the cheese cloth to tie it all up with. It’s like giant tea bag that you put in a pot and cover with water.

“What’s the biggest hinderance to making stock at home?” he asked me as we enjoyed cigars (and I, a martini) outside his restaurant as my chicken roasted. “The mess, right? This way you just throw the whole bag away and there’s your stock.”

Poulet Sans Tête roast chicken, super heavy on the herbs, is some of the best chicken in the city. When I’m there I almost always get a chicken one night. I was returning to Providence the following day and would bring what I didn’t eat of the chicken along to try out his stock kit.

Tie the whole bundle of chicken bones and vegetables in cheese cloth, put it in a pot, cover with water, and simmer on the stove top for a few hours. Turn the bag once. When you’re done, simply discard the bundle. (Actually, put it in a bowl for a half hour and another half cup or so of stock will drain out—then just throw it away.)

Like I said. Ingenius.

And now for a pretty food picture …

This is a photograph by Evan Sung of Gabriel Kreuther’s Cucumber and Ling Crab Leg Soup. Sung did all the food photography for Kreuther’s forthcoming book, The Spirit of Alsace, which I wrote with Chef Gabriel. It’s a fun book that has both Alsatian farmhouse cooking as well as dishes from his Michelin-starred restaurant.

Did someone say Egg Foo Yung? …

Yes, I did, when the Jacques Pépin Foundation asked me to film a demo to help them raise money for their foundation, which supports community kitchens that offer free culinary training (and therefore life skills) to adults who have been incarcerated, are homelessness, have drug abuse issues abuse, a lack of education, or don’t have good work history. I wanted to honor his love of the omelet but also to do a recipe that was a little out of the ordinary. I looked to my last cookbook, The Omelet chapter in the aforementioned From Scratch. The book is all about how ten basic preparations can give us scores of other recipes, such as this quirky Chinese-American hybrid that harkened back to my Cleveland 1970s youth and The Chinese Peacock on Chagrin Blvd, where my best pal Les and I ordered piles of gigantic egg rolls. The kind of place that served chop suey and, well, egg foo yung.

Egg foo young is actually a really cool dish. Basically unfolded omelets loaded with garnish (ground chicken, water chestnuts, carrot, oyster sauce and other seasonings), served on rice with a delicious chicken-stock based sauce seasoned with garlic and ginger.

Become a member here starting at $40, which gives you access to both digital cookbooks—a collection of cooking videos by scores of the country’s best chefs.

I adore Jacques, a true gentleman, scholar, and chef who has educated so many. Still going strong at age 85! Stay healthy, Chef!

And one final omelet…

Potato chips and eggs. That’s it. After coffee and the Sunday Times, Ann retrieved the bag of Lays chips she’d hidden away, mixed half the bag with six beaten eggs and dumped it all into a skillet. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper. It’s from none other than Jose Andres, a riff on the Spanish tortilla, egg and potato. It’s fabulous.

Beat six eggs, add half a bag of chips, stir it around, let it sit for a couple minutes, then cook in a non-stick skillet over medium low heat in a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Finish with black pepper and, if you wish, pimenton.

What we’re drinking …

Gimlets! With the bartender and author Jeffrey Morganthaler. Great Instagram live conversation here.

And we’re loving our Bin 312 wine club here in Providence, six wines per month in the $20 range, curated and written about by Aura Bland. It’s been fun to find new wines and varietals.

I’ve never had a Vouvray brut; the chenin blanc is one of my favorite (and under appreciated) grapes. The Bourgogne, from an organic family estate in southern Burgundy, is a “gorgeous, soil-driven, single-vineyard Pinot Noir.” And Lirac is a region in the Rhone (where Cote de Rhone got branded), and this La Font de Notre Dame is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. This is one of those because-of-the-pandemic things we did that will persist well after.

What we’re reading…

Because I contributed a few words on the bistro L’Amis Louis, the wonderful artist John Donohue sent us a copy of his latest book of illustrated of restaurants. Ann got one, too. She wrote a beautiful short essay on Au Pied de Cochon and how service changed dramatically when her then 11-year-old, adopted from China, unleashed her perfect French (the French adore non-French French speakers and they were suddenly royalty). The book, A Tables in Paris, comes out this Tuesday (3/23). John offers individual illustrations for sale on his site alltherestaurants.com. His first book of illustrations was All the Restaurants in New York. I love his work.

“Late to the party,” Ann says, “but I loved Little Fires Everywhere. Now reading and loving The Mountains Wild by Sarah Stewart Taylor. A mystery set in Ireland. Perfect for St. Patrick’s week.”

What we’re watching…

We have been obsessively watching Dickinson, season 2 of an outrageous series about the 19th century poet, Emily. Period setting, contemporary lingo, rap music, and death rides in a carriage, wears a top hat and blue spectacles.

I’ve fallen hard for Ted Lasso, also on Apple. It kind of breaks your cynical heart, if you have a cynical heart.

And Ann is loving the Netflix show Hinterland, a detective show set in Wales, perfect for knitting!

Other food links we’re loving…

I’ve never made pad Thai, because I’ve never had a pad Thai that I liked. So why do I want to make it? Because I read about it in The Irish Times. Did you know it was created because of a rice shortage in Thailand forced people to eat noodles?

I really enjoyed Melissa Clark’s story on making your own spice blends in The Times. (See also the awesome pickling spice blend in my corned beef recipe linked to above!)

When we’re in New York, our new fave Chinese takeout is from Jinzu, whose chef, Lucas Sin, loves to take American-Chinese dishes and elevate them. I’d like to know how he’d do egg foo yung! (Also from the NYTimes.)

Do not eat while you are robbing someone’s house! A man burgling a house in Germany stops to take a bite out of a sausage and is nabbed for a separate crime because DNA on the sausage matched that of the other crime. The Guardian’s headline: “Wurst Luck.”

The 16-year-old underfoot in our Providence loft routinely laments the fact that she is ignored during the Friday Cocktail Hour. Ann found some mocktails that actually look interesting, whether you’re 16 or abstaining by choice.

And non-food links we’re loving …

Also from The Irish Times, the most balanced evaluation of the super juicy Oprah interview and coverage of the royals.

Are you a fan or student of the Midwest (asks this Midwestern boy)? The great fiction writer Charles Baxter and photographer John Kohring have teamed up to explore it in words and photographs. “Report from the Midwest is not a political statement,” Baxter writes. “Instead, it is a heartfelt portrait of everyday life in early 21st century America. This is an America that can be beautiful and ugly, insecure and bold, playful and sad, vulgar and dignified.”

In another fascinating obit, the “king of the ocean” dies.

And yes, one of those rare-finds-at-the-yard-sale has happened. A $35 purchase in Connecticut for a piece made in 15th-century China. Keep your eye out—you never know!

Lastly this short, beautiful, bewildering essay from Paul Auster, “Why Write?” (from the archives of The New Yorker.) A must read for writers and aspiring writers.

I leave you with one of my favorite objects in movies set to music…

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