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Want restaurant-quality food on your table? Take stock

Oklahoma chef Kurt Fleischfresser of The Coach House shares secrets for making a great stock at home.
by Dave Cathey Published: July 24, 2013

/articleid/3865079/1/pictures/2165280">Photo - A chicken carcass for use in chicken stock made by Chef Kurt Fleischfresser at The Tasting Room in Oklahoma City, Monday, July 15, 2013. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
A chicken carcass for use in chicken stock made by Chef Kurt Fleischfresser at The Tasting Room in Oklahoma City, Monday, July 15, 2013. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

Beyond basic

A stock's most basic use is for soup, but Fleischfresser points out stock is also the foundation for practically every sauce a chef makes. So, knowing what ingredients are in your stock is integral to building your own recipe.

There's no way you're going to want to go to all the trouble Fleischfresser, Henry and crew go to. For instance, for the duck stock, they start with three carcasses, roast the bones, make a stock and store it. The next day, they roast another set of bones, immerse it from the stock made the day before, and cycle through the process again for an even richer stock. Yet another set of bones is roasted the third day, immersed in the same stock, and simmered once more for an ultrarich stock.

“The duck stock is the one stock we don't skim the fat from,” Fleischfresser said. “Duck fat is so rich and flavorful, it creates this silky mouth feel that coats the palate and has a very unique and complex finish.”

When making chicken stock, you can use raw chicken bones for a clear stock and roasted bones for a darker, richer stock, he said. Clear stock might be more useful for soup, whereas dark stock might be better suited for reductions, but either will work.

But for our purposes, we'll stick with chicken stock. The stock will cook in under an hour if you use a tall stock pot, which is built for maximum heat-conduction efficiency. A regular soup pot might take a little longer. Beef stock, on the other hand, requires longer cook times and usually some coordination with your butcher to procure bones best suited for the rigors of roasting and simmering required.

What about the difference between stock and broth? In a word: salt. Stocks traditionally are seasoned lightly or not at all. Fleischfresser used a little salt on his vegetables when he sauteed them in oil to help cook off their vegetal flavor qualities.

The other difference is what's on the bones. Stock is made from bones with a little trim attached, while broth more often is made with whole pieces of meat. Broth is more ready to eat as it's been seasoned, while stock is a base. Both can be used in many recipes as a replacement for water to instill deeper, more complex flavor.

When Fleischfresser made his stock for us, he couldn't resist dressing it up with extra salt and fresh herbs for a soul-massaging light afternoon snack. And the aroma? The Japanese refer to the feeling that draws a long, satisfying sigh as umami. The aroma of the chicken stock certainly had elements of umami, which created an anticipation practically impossible to live up to. But it did.

by Dave Cathey
Food Editor
The Oklahoman's food editor, Dave Cathey, keeps his eye on culinary arts and serves up news and reviews from Oklahoma’s booming food scene.
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Here is chef Kurt Fleischfresser's basic chicken stock recipe. He said you can follow the same technique using a roasted chicken carcass, which I later did and was thrilled with the result.

3 chicken carcasses (or about 3 pounds of meaty chicken bones)

3 carrots

3 stalks of celery

1 large onion

1 bay leaf

3 tablespoons of kosher salt

A dozen or so black peppercorns

Several sprigs of fresh thyme

1 whole head of garlic

¼ cup olive oil

Water to cover

Dice the vegetables into ½-inch pieces. Heat oil in a stock pot. Saute vegetables until tender and then add remaining ingredients.

Cover with water and bring up to a light boil and quickly reduce to a simmer. Skim fat and scum frequently.

When the carcass falls apart on its own weight when lifted out of the water, the stock is finished. Strain and chill; remove any remaining fat. Store until ready to use.

Source: Chef Kurt Fleischfresser

Editor's note: Chef It Up is a monthly series in which local chefs share secrets that set the flavors in their food apart from the common household kitchen.


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