Restaurants Are Selling Their Chicken Stock, and You Should Buy It
Along my street, where once was a lively array of taquerias, jerk chicken spots, slice joints, homey bars,and coffee shops, is now block after block of shuttered windows due to the coronavirus. Only the occasional spot has remained open in some capacity, for takeout and delivery. Some have started selling wine and groceries, a welcome respite from navigating the cramped aisles of my local supermarket. And a few places near me, like roast chicken restaurant The Fly, have begun offering a staple that you can't really get in normal, not-pandemic times: restaurant-made chicken stock.
Stock might not sound like the most exciting product in the world. It is, essentially, chicken water (or beef or vegetable or seafood water), the end result of simmering scraps for hours with herbs and maybe some onions and celery. Stock is the backbone of sauces and soups. A really good quality stock is one of those elements that makes restaurant food taste so good. You can, of course, make stock at home, and it'll be more flavorful and probably way less salty than what you find in the supermarket. But it still doesn't hold a candle to restaurant-grade stuff
Why? Stock is one of those things that really benefits from quantity—the more scraps you generate, the more potential for flavor in your stock. No matter what you do at home, your chicken stock isn't going to be the same, simply because you probably have a small fraction of the chicken scraps that, say, a restaurant known for roasting chickens is going to have on hand. The stock that we used at my culinary school program, made of the collective mistakes of dozens of would-be chefs, was so much better than what I could cook at home, that when I got to take home a quart or two to practice making a veloute, I felt like I had scored a rare and excellent prize.
In normal times, you couldn't just buy stock from a restaurant as handily, or at least it wouldn't be advertised on the menu. Now, because of the pandemic, you can just go out and buy a quart from a restaurant. The Meat Hook in Brooklyn is even giving it away for free, or for whatever you can pay. The situation with restaurants across the country is fluctuating constantly, but if there's a beloved local near you that's been selling groceries, ask if you can buy a quart of stock. Whatever's going on with the economy, you won't be sorry about these stock options.