Tag Archives: vegetable stock

Make your own stock

1 Jun

Seriously, why are you buying vegetable or chicken stock? There are some food items I won’t make myself because, frankly, there are people who are really really good at making them. Take bread as an example. I tried my hand at making bread in my quest to be a renaissance woman. Guess what, my bread wasn’t nearly as good as my local bakery’s. It was edible and during a zombie attack, I would definitely take that bread in my rucksack and snack on it in between, you know, surviving. But since it’s not the end of the world, why not have the kind of bread that you just want to tear into and eat with your eyes closed because it’s that good. Stock, on the other hand, is not better out of a can. I make damn good stock and I make it quickly and I make it without a fancy technique.

My first exposure to stock was probably Thanksgiving, when every year my mom would take the inside bits of the turkey and throw them in some lightly salted water to cook while the bird got ready. She would skim the fat then use the liquid in the stuffing. Her turkey stuffing, by the way, is amazing and I eat it with my eyes closed. I always have a moment with those first few bites of stuffing. Now I’m hungry. Okay, sorry for the digression, but I realized recently that she was basically making her own turkey stock for the day. When I started buying chicken directly from local farmers I started making my own chicken stock. It’s been about five years and I haven’t gone back to store-bought stocks.

I mostly used bones from roast chicken at first. Now, I make stock with whatever I have. A month ago my husband had a terrible stomach bug and I figured the best way to get his appetite and energy back was with some chicken stock. It was mid-week and I had no bone-in cuts of chicken on hand. Then I looked in the fridge again: a half-dozen chicken necks were hiding behind the last bars of liquid gold (breastmilk could back the currency of any country, in my opinion).

Let me tell you that chicken necks are my new favorite stock option. They have very little fat so your stock doesn’t require 20 minutes of skimming fat off the top, yet they do have some meat on them for excellent flavor. I make stocks with whatever I have on hand. That day I had onion, garlic, and bay leaves. I served Husbo the stock with nothing else.–it was all he had the energy to eat. It healed him. Alright, I exaggerate, but broth always does a body good. I didn’t even brown anything for this stock, I just put three necks into about 3 quarts of water, along with salt, whole peppercorns, smashed garlic, a bay leaf, and half an onion. I brought everything up to a boil, then covered the pot and turn down the heat to a simmer for 90 minutes. And I did pull the meat off the necks. Again, it wasn’t much meat, but it was enough for about four baby servings of chicken and lentils.

Last week I made a vegetable stock with carrots (the last couple sad ones of the bunch), three cremini mushrooms, a bay leaf, and the center of a celery bunch (lots of leaves). This time I did brown everything first in a spoonful olive oil before adding the water. The beauty of homemade stocks is that you control everything. And they’re cheap to make, so why pay for the packaging at the store?? And don’t thing it’s a strictly-housewife activity. I make stocks on weekends when I have a couple of hours at home. After they cool, I put them in freezer bags or ice cube trays if I don’t plan on using them that very week. Try it. You can’t mess up on this one. Bread, on the other hand, is very easy to mess up.

If you want professional/fancy stuff, Bon Appetit had a great chicken stock 101 recipe: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2011/09/brown-chicken-stock

Martha offers a great basic vegetable stock recipe here: http://www.marthastewart.com/332810/homemade-vegetable-stock