With stock being a pricey commodity from the supermarkets there really is no excuse not to make your own at home. It will cost next to nothing, be minimal effort and can be frozen for a later convenience. Making homemade stock should be every cooks stock in trade…
OK so while I am banging on about making the most of your leftovers I figured I may as well bang some pots together and make a big hoo har about every chefs stock in trade . Why use water in your recipe when you can use a deliciously flavoured stock! There is no point in wasting this great opportunity to get more flavour into your food while making the most out of old veges, old chicken carcasses and odd bones that may be lying around after a meal.
There are many recipes that call for some stock. Risottos, pies, stews, rice, paella, curries, pilaf and soups. In fact the list could almost be endless. If a recipe is savoury and it requires liquid then there are not many cases where you couldn’t argue for the use of stock.
Sound like a lot of extra work? Rubbish! Here is how the situation will play out. You will open your fridge or look in your panty and see that you have some uneaten carrots that are going soft. You may even have a bit of flaccid celery or some sprouting onions. Great! Or you may have perfect fresh specimens of one or more of these ingredients and have just finished a delicious meal of roast chicken or some other meat. Brilliant! Don’t get too excited mind you. Take a deep breath and go put the kettle on to make yourself a cup of tea.
While you are waiting for the kettle to boil cut the veges roughly (any veges you have on hand) and chuck ’em into a pot. If you have any old bones – bear in mind that you can always freeze any bones to use at a later more convenient date – chuck ’em into the pot also.
The best veges to use are carrots, celery, onion and even garlic too if you have a surplus. But you can get creative and use any veg and meat bones. Add some bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme or in fact any herbs that may take your fancy. If you don’t have any never fear, a simple stock is just fine. The only other secret (and little known) ingredient you should always have on hand for a great stock is some star anise. Star anise boost the umami flavours that are extracted in the stock – you won’t even taste them but you will find your stock goes from to delicious to irritable in flavour!
Fill the pot up with water so that it covers all of the ingredients and bring to the boil. Now don’t go forgetting about that cup of tea you were making. The water should have just boiled – so go grab a tea bag for your cup and add the hot water. Add sugar and milk as desired and go sit down to enjoy your cup of tea.
Beware! Before you have finished your cup of tea you will likely have to get up again to turn down the heat on you stock pot. You don’t want your stock to boil too furiously. Don’t stress sometimes that cup of tea is so good and relaxing you may forget this step and if you do it doesn’t really matter. But if you simmer the stock softly then it will remain nice and clear which is rather nice – a cloudy stock looks insipid for some reason. Simmer for at least an hour more if you can be bothered. You want all of the ingredients to be mushy in order to make sure you have extracted all of the flavour you can from the ingredients. Don’t let them boil to complete mush mind you. Then you would have that cloudy broth once again.
And that is it! In the time it takes to make a cup of tea you can get litres of stock together. A few minutes more will be spent bottling it and maybe freezing it once it is finished – but that really is it. Such a small price to pay for flavour you can’t buy. Oh wait, you can in actual fact buy it, but it’ll cost you an arm and a leg! And stock powders just don’t cut it for depth and subtlety of flavour.
Use any old ingredients and experiment with the different flavours you can get. I have even made a red stock out of delicious beetroot!
The classic stock recipe is as follows:
Bones that are high in collagen (this will make your stock jelly-like)
Other ingredients that work just as well are:
There really is no excuse not to have a good supply of stock frozen in your freezer!