Hello friends! Today I’d like to talk about one of the more versatile ingredients one can have in the kitchen. You can find it at the store in a can or a box; in powder form or paste form.
I’m talking, of course, about stock. It can be used for soups and stews, sauces and gravies and many other cooking applications. Stock can be rather expensive, depending on the brand and other variables. In addition to the cost, you have zero control of what flavorings are used, the sodium content and a many other things.
There is a simple solution — make your own!
Normally I show you the ingredients you need but first of all, I forgot to take a picture (grrr) and second, this is really about the technique, not a specific recipe.
For my stock I used:
- about 2 pounds of chicken parts
- 1 duck carcass
- 4 carrots
- 2 onions
- 6 large mushrooms
- 1 head of garlic
- 4 celery stalks
- Fresh basil
- Fresh parsley
- Fresh rosemary
- Fresh dill
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of whole peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon of salt
Its not the size of the boat…
You’ll notice that the pot I’m using and the number of ingredients I’m using seems like quite a bit. You would be correct.
Spoiler alert! I had to give away about 6 quarts of stock because we didn’t have room in our fridge/freezer to store it all!
Let’s get cooking!
Throw all of your chicken parts (bones, wings or chicken you’ve had in your freezer so long it’s growing ice all over it) into you largest pot. Then, give a rough chop to all your veggies. No need to peel anything! Just chop them into a few pieces and chuck them in the pot with the chicken.
Next up, throw in your peppercorns, salt and fresh herbs.
Now, fill your pot with cold water until all of your ingredients are covered.
Turn up the heat!
Crank your burner to high and throw a lid on your pot to help bring this to a boil quickly. I had about 6 1/2 gallons in my pot so it took some time for this to happen. Once you’re at a boil, you need to reduce your heat and bring the liquid to a simmer.
You will notice a “scum” floating on the top of your liquid. This is normal. It is just the fat from your meat liquefying. Since I’m lazy, I don’t bother skimming this off. If it grosses you out, feel free to skim it off until you feel better. I find it easier to get rid of the fat once everything has been strained and cooled down.
Sit back and relax!
Now the easy part — just wait! Go about your day, read a book, catch up on chores. This stuff needs to simmer for about an hour per gallon of water that you are using. Also, if you are using larger bones (like from a deer or moose or something like that) add about 45 minutes to that hour.
The timing of this really is up to you though. Because I had SO. MUCH. LIQUID. I wanted some of that liquid to evaporate and reduced. This had two purposes: first, it cut down on the amount of stock I would have to store, and second, it helps to further concentrate the flavor.
My stock simmered for about five hours before I felt like it was done. As always, be sure to taste what you are cooking. If you stock seems bland or thin, give it more time. I hesitate to add too much salt to my stock as I prefer to season with salt when I’m using it to actually cook a meal.
Get ready to strain!
As you can see, I set up a smaller pot and set a colander in it. Using a spider strainer, I lift all the solids out and put them into the colander. I then use a two cup size pyrex measuring cup to scoop more liquid from the large pot to the smaller one.
Now just package your stock in whatever containers you have handy. I like to use quart sized deli containers.
Go ahead and put your stock in the fridge and the next day you should see a thin layer of fat floating at the top. Just use a spoon to scoop it out and discard it (or turn it into schmaltz)!
You now have stock on hand that tastes miles better than anything you can find at the store. It should stay good in the fridge for a little over a week and it lasts 4-6 months in the freezer (or longer).
Use my above ingredients as a guide only. I won’t be putting a recipe card at the bottom of this post because you can use whatever ingredients you have on hand. Got turnips? Use them! Parsnips? Sure! Squash? I’ve never tried it but why not?
The point is, think about the flavors of what you are putting into your pot and imagine how those flavors would add to your stock. The sky really is the limit with this one.
I hope you give this a try real soon!