Chicken & Parmesan Stock

Whenever I buy parmesan rinds at the store, people always ask me what I plan to do with them. For the following few moments, I become a pseudo parm-rind evangelist, professing the virtue of this generally-discarded delicacy. Parmesan rinds are good in everything, I say. Which is true. 

Sadly, I spent over half my life without this vital knowledge. I too thought parmesan rinds were destined for the trash. If we're being honest, I also probably thought parmesan was a grated product that came in a clear deli container and didn't even have a rind. 

But then.. I was shown the way. As a line cook, I was taught to throw all the restaurant's parmesan rinds, along with some garlic, bay, and chile flakes, into a big pot of cream, and to cook it until it reduced to creamy, umami-filled bit of heaven. At first taste, I wondered why anyone ever made "Alfredo" sauce.

After that seminal taste experience, I learned that you could throw a leftover parmesan rind into just about anything, and get a noticeably more tasty dish. Ragu, braised greens, chili, risotto, tomato sauce, cream (obviously); it's all good. 

So naturally, when I saw a recipe for parmesan broth in Bon Appetit, I thought it was a stroke of genius. You could make the stock whenever you had a lot of rinds leftover, and then deploy it as needed. Imagine the beans you could cook, or the braised chicken you could make! 

The stock below builds on that initial recipe, including a little spice to heat things up, and some chicken bones for depth. I created this play on parmesan broth to serve as the base for the following recipe for Egg Drop Soup, but it will lend an umami-hand to almost any soup, bean dish, or braise.

Chicken & Parmesan Stock

Makes 1 quart (4 cups).

Ingredients:

  • 1/2-3/4 pound of parmesan rinds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 8 cups of cold water
  • 1 or 2 chicken backs
  • 2 or 3 chicken wings
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or other neutral oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 1 head of garlic, top cut off to display cloves
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 dried arbol chile

Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a large stockpot. Saute onions, peppercorns, bay, thyme, chile de arbol, and garlic until garlic is deep brown. Stir often to prevent burning. 
  2. Add the white wine and cook until liquid is reduced by about half.
  3. Add chicken bones, parmesan rinds, wings, and water to the pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Simmer for about 2 hours, stirring often to prevent the cheese from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add more water only if necessary to keep the ingredients covered.
  4. After cooking time is up, strain stock through a fine mesh sieve and cool. Cover and chill.