Tag Archives: chicken stock

Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Medley: How I Love Thee

Gentle Readers, it is an amazing thing to be surrounded by people who love food and books in equal proportions. Tonight I learned more about circus peanuts and candy corn than I ever imagined. (For the record, I think circus peanuts taste like chalk mixed with Aspergum, while candy corn has more of a sugared wax feel.) The connecting thread to this meandering food conversation: texture.

Trader Joe's Brown Rice Medley

Trader Joe's Brown Rice Medley

Today’s product review came as a recommendation from my friend OscartheCoach. Brown Rice Medley from Trader Joe’s blew me away in terms of texture. Generally speaking, I’m terrible at making plain rice, but not bad at risotto or other liquidy rice-pasta numbers. So I, gasp, essentially followed the directions on the package, using Chicken Stock instead of water, and it turned out well. This is a whole grain product, and takes some time to cook, but it’s low-fuss and well worth it. It is to Rice-A-Roni as granita is to Chillie Willie. Worth the extra time.

The Brown Rice Medley was soupy at first, but became creamier as it rested.

The Brown Rice Medley was soupy at first, but became creamier as it rested.

The blend contains “A Delicious Blend of Long Grain Brown Rice, Black Barley & Daikon Radish Seeds.” It’s a textural wonder, with enough chew and variety to stay interesting, and the nuttiness one expects from brown rice. I would eat it for breakfast, it’s that good. And you know how I feel about cereal.

The Daikon Radish Seeds are like the Pop Rocks of the grain world, they explode in your mouth when chewed.

The Daikon Radish Seeds are like the Pop Rocks of the grain world, they explode in your mouth when chewed.

I’ll be heading back into the taste kitchen to test this out with different stocks and timing, to see if I can go closer to risotto. I would recommend using stock (mushroom, veggie, chicken, or turkey: I think beef and pork would overwhelm), and a sprinkle of Parmesan or parsley at the end would be nice too. It is sold as a side dish, but with a nice salad and some fruit, it makes a great meal.

Because I found it hard to stop at one bowl of Brown Rice Medley.

Because I found it hard to stop at one bowl of Brown Rice Medley.

During the great Fried adventure, I craved this dish. It tasted pure and clean and chewed like a meal, satisfying and complete within itself. Thanks OTC for the suggestion!

Are you a grain fan? Post a comment below, or Tweet!

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Tomorrow, another in the theme of reviews, Chocolate Yogurt: A Poor Man’s Banana Split.

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Filed under Kitchen Philosophy, On the Table

How to Make Stock Out of Anything: Three Recipes

Why aren’t you making stock? Too hard? Too time-consuming? Read on for some simple and relatively quick techniques.

Stock is essentially flavored water, it’s just a matter of degree after that (though I feel certain trained chefs would strike me down for saying this). But I am the Practical Cook, and making stock is an extremely practical practice. (Try saying that three times fast.) You’re making use of ingredients that have either been used once (a nice way of saying “carcass”), are cheap (bones), or are destined for the compost heap (veggie bits).

Easy Chicken or Turkey Stock

Rotisserie Chicken

1 onion, quartered (optional)
1 carrot, cleaned and peeled (optional)
leftovers from rotisserie chicken (though I prefer plain, you can use a flavored one) or turkey, including skin, bones, and any remaining meat not reserved for another purpose

1. If using the vegetables, add a dash of oil to a 4 to 6 quart stockpot and heat over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add veggies to pot and cover, sauteing them until lightly softened.

2. Add the chicken parts. Cover with water. Raise the heat to medium high and bring to a boil, skimming any scum/foam off the top and discarding.

3. Lower heat to medium or medium low, keeping the water at a low simmer. Simmer for about an hour, until stock reaches desired concentration.

4. Pour stock through sieve or strainer, pressing solids to extract all liquid. Cool, remove excess fat, put in containers that serve your needs, and freeze. (TPC recommends 1/2 cup portions.)

What's in the Practical Cook's Freezer? Beef Bones

What's in the Practical Cook's Freezer? Beef Bones

Easy Pork Stock

3 lbs (or less, whatever you can get) pork bones

Take a very large stockpot. Put pork bones in it. Cover with water. Bring to a boil. Skim the scum and discard. Reduce heat and simmer for an hour or so. Pour stock through sieve or strainer, setting bones aside. Cool, remove excess fat, store in 6 to 8 cup containers, freeze. Remove any remaining meat from bones and freeze in small portions separately. Great for use in Pork Noodle Soup.

**Note: Not everyone is a fan of pork stock. The Practical Cook sometimes adds 1/2 cup or more of chicken stock to round out the flavors. Also, I know that roasting the bones first would deepen the flavor, but I just haven’t gotten around to trying this yet! The soup is served by a clearer broth, so for now, this is practical.

Easy Vegetable Stock

mixture of leftover veggie bits, including carrot, potato, asparagus stalks, mushroom stems, parsley, etc.
a few black peppercorns

Collect the vegetable bits (in the freezer for heartier ones) until you have enough to fill your slow cooker at least 1/3 to 1/2 full. Place the vegetables into the slow cooker. Add the peppercorns. Cover with water. Cook for 6 hours on low heat, or 10 hours on high heat. Pour stock through sieve or strainer, pressing solids to extract juice. Cool, store in 6 to 8 cup containers, freeze.

Today's Woody Asparagus Ends

Today's Woody Asparagus Ends

Tomorrow's Vegetable Stock Ingredient

Tomorrow's Vegetable Stock Ingredient

The idea and courage to make vegetable stock in a slow cooker came from the amazing ladies behind Kitchen Scoop! (and the Desperation Dinners! cookbooks), Alicia Ross and Beverly Mills. I highly recommend Cheap, Fast, Good for anyone looking for a solid addition to their cookbook library. They have a gift for taking complex cooking techniques and recipes and distilling them to their essence. (Full disclosure, I also worked with them in a past life.)

Tomorrow, an installment on a favorite topic, the Art of Dining Out. Just because you are committed to cooking at home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing field research!

What would you like to see covered in an upcoming post? Post comments here, on Facebook, via email (practicalcook at gmail dot com), or Twitter (practicalcook).

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Filed under Kitchen Philosophy, Recipes