Happy New Year Everyone! I decided to take it back to the basics for at least the month of January, maybe longer. It seems we all get so caught up in trying to get everything done in a timely manner that we forget to learn how to do the basics well. Things like making stock, dressings, roux, blanching and other basic points of cooking that make a dish spectacular instead of just ordinary.
Making stock is one of the most very basic forms of cooking but it adds so much to the dish. Most of the time, we just cook in plain water. Partly because it is easy to just turn on the tap and partly because we just do not know any better. The cooks I grew up with always used water, so that is how I did it for years. Then I learned the beauty of how much flavor and improved taste a simple stock could add to a dish.
Veggie, chicken, beef, pork, seafood or whatever the flavor, stock goes a long way to improving food taste quality. AND it is so easy to make. Just use the things you were throwing away. Yes, you can go all out and make a stock with the good parts of the meat or veggies but you do not have to. You can just use that wilted carrot, the potato peels, the stems, leftover herbs, cheese rinds, peppercorns, bones, skin, meat scraps and so much more to make your stock.
You do have time to make stock. It really takes no time at all. Five minutes or so to place everything in a large pot. Fill the pot with water and allow it to simmer for a few minutes to hours or even days while you do other things. Just do not forget the pot on the stove, simmering away, while you take care of the laundry. It also makes your home smell wonderful!
The amount of time you put in your stock will be reflected in the flavor it imparts when finished. Veggie stock is the easiest and fastest one to make. It takes about 30 minutes to a few hours to simmer and uses whatever you have on hand. Meat and seafood stocks take longer because you want to work the juices and marrow out of the meat and bones. I have simmered a beef stock for 48 hours to create a beautiful brown flavorful stock that just speaks of richness.
Some basic ingredients I include in all my stocks regardless of meat or veggie are black peppercorns, onions, garlic, carrots and herbs. After that I toss in whatever I have. I tend to make at least one batch of veggie stock per week and the other types when I have the right ingredients (or need of course). I store some in the fridge for anytime use and pour two cups of stock per freezer bag for the rest. Then it is off to the freezer. It makes it easy to have stock on hand at anytime I need it, especially those longer to make ones like beef, pork and chicken. Some like to add salt to their stock but why add extra sodium where it is not needed?! Leave it out! Season when you cook.
NO RECIPE NEEDED. Use whatever ingredients you have on hand to make your stock. Stock really is easy and it is all about improving the flavor of a dish. It is so worth the effort, I even cook basic rice and ramen noodles in stock instead of water because it adds so much extra flavor and goodness. Do remember when making your stock to throw in ingredients that will compliment not overpower, such as, do not add lemon peel, as it tends to add a bitterness to the stock.
Another advantage to making stock is that the longer you simmer it, you create a beautiful rich broth. The reducing concentrates the flavor and is oh so awesome for sipping when sick or just adding more flavor to a dish. Stock also gains the beautiful minerals, vitamins and nutrients from the food you used, so it adds increased healthy goodness to your dishes.
Stock making recipes, instructions and ideas: