The temperature is dropping! The scent of real stock is something that says home, warmth and security to me and can form a nutritious basis to a whole range of dishes. This post is a rework of one from my old blog Living Eating Well, a blog that has been superseded by this one as my ideas about what I want from my blog have evolved.
Making a good stock is very straight forward yet many people shy away from doing it themselves. Start with a big pan, preferably one with a heavy base, and three quarter fill it with cold water. Put it on to heat on a medium setting. What I am making here is chicken stock but the principles are the same for any bone base. Add chicken frames, these are carcasses of chickens that have had most of the meat removed. There were four in this large pan and I got them from my friendly butcher close by where I live.
Next add veggies for flavour and for all the vitamins and minerals that they bring with them – all mine are local Tasmanian grown. I always put in an onion, peeled and cut in quarters, celery sticks, about three cut in thirds, and a couple of carrots, washed and cut in chunks. Then its a case of what else I have – I keep a bag in the freezer where I put mushroom stalks, bacon rinds and parsley stalks but today it was empty! Instead I went through the fridge and added the outside leaves and top of a leek, several older runner beans that were left over from earlier in the week and a little tough, and the stalks from some fresh coriander. Making stock is a great way to reduce food waste in your home!
Then out to the garden to collect a little oregano, a bay leaf or two, a red chilli, some thyme and a couple a sage leaves. These I added to the stock which was by then getting warm and aromatic! The final ingredients were a few black pepper corns and a couple of whole cloves from my spice collection. I don’t add salt to stock – I add that to the dish that I make with the stock at the appropriate stage. Once the stock reaches the boil I turn it down to a simmer, put the lid on and let it cook for at least an hour – the longer you can leave it the richer and more complex the flavours that develop – four to eight hours is great but keep an eye on liquid levels and top up with a little water if need be. Then I strain it ready for use! Sometimes its a case of straight away in a vegetable soup for dinner.
If I am not using it immediately I try to remember to freeze it because then it is fine whenever! It is best left to cool first – in a bowl in the fridge. Moving away from plastic bags and containers I am starting to use glass jars to freeze liquids like these – just need to remember that they will expand by about 10% so don’t overfill the jars.
A couple of thoughts about stock – don’t use brassicas including cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts in your stock because they are high in sulphur and can make the stock rank in flavour. Once made and frozen stock will keep happily for a number of months. I use stock as the base for home made soup but also to add as the base of a casserole or curry, to make a thickened gravy to go with roast chicken or to form the base of a chicken cream sauce to use in the filling for a chicken pie or to add to chicken and vegetables to serve with rice or pasta or just with steamed greens and a salad if you don’t want carbs. And of course any time a recipe says add stock cubes – I like to know what is going in my food and with your own stock you do! Remember that unlike commercial stock or stock cubes there is no salt in this recipe so you need to add it to the dish you are cooking.
On a final note one of the beautiful things about making stock is the wonderful aroma that lingers around the house and has family and visitors saying nice things about your cooking – when you haven’t really done any yet!
Have fun – make your own stock and use it to bring great food to your table!
I would love to hear about your adventures making stock and the purposes to which you put the product.