We've been wanting to try making our own veggie stock for quite a while. So much so that we started saving veggie kitchen scraps in a giant Ziploc bag in the freezer.
Right around the same time, friend and some time HAK guest poster Joel Niemeyer mentioned his method for making delicious chicken stock.
While we wouldn't call this a stock-off, here are two different methods for making your own stock, one for the vegetarian-minded and one for the carnivores.
There are a couple ways to do this.
One is to gather (buy if you have to) onions, celery, carrots, fresh parsley, fresh thyme, two bay leaves, salt, and pepper.
Chop the onions, celery, and carrots into smallish chunks.
Fill a large stock pot or dutch oven 2/3 to 3/4 with water.
Add ingredients. Bring to a boil, then simmer on medium-low for 45 minutes to an hour. Strain through a colander and discard vegetables.
You now have an amazing base for soups, stews, risottos, etc.
Another way to go is to save the stems/leaves of vegetables you've trimmed for other recipes in a container in the freezer. Once you have it filled, you can simmer them with herbs, salt, pepper, and water to make your stock.
We love this approach because you're not buying produce just to simmer and throw away. You're using bits and pieces you would've tossed anyway.
It is important to note, however, that onions, celery, and carrots seem paramount for the veggie broth. You may luck out and get a flavorful concoction without them, but your broth might end up tasting like dishwater, too.
Thus, it's important to save your onion, celery, and carrot trimmings or to purchase what you need to fill in the recipe.
Follow the directions above and enjoy! Your house will smell amazing as the savory veggies bubble away on your stove top.
Joel's Chicken Stock
I’m very much a snob about some food things, and completely open on others, to the point that I border on being an out-right hypocrite. But I just feel strongly that there are some things you not only don’t need to, but just should not buy. I’d list them, but I’m sure eyes would roll.
One of them though, is chicken stock. In my article about risotto a while back, I wrote that you can use a low sodium canned, but that homemade is better. In retrospect, I regret writing that, and should have been more assertive. Make your own. It’s superior to anything you can buy in a can or box. I don’t care what the brand is, or if it’s made from all organic ingredients or not, where it’s bought, or what chef’s name is on it-- store bought just does not work for me.
The thing is, it’s so easy. Keep your chicken carcasses or buy the cheapest good chicken pieces you can find! I like to use a combination of fresh meat pieces, and bones that have been broiled, but you really don’t have to do the latter.
Here is what you will need:
Chicken - A nice collection or chicken backs and necks can be found cheap. Or, just buy a package of nice cheap legs.
Carrots – one or two
Celery - a few stalks
Onions – one big yellow one
Bay Leaf (2-3)
A few peppercorns
Here is what you do:
Roughly cut up the vegetables--they don’t need to be uniform at all. This isn't restaurant cooking! Besides, they will give up all their goodness and be tossed.
Get a big stock pot, heat up the pot on the range, and toss the chicken in to the pot. Brown it a little, and then toss in the vegetables and herbs. No salt yet, though.
Once the vegetables have cooked a little, fill the pot with water a few inches over the top of the chicken and vegetables.
Now, here’s where things get just a little complicated: you want to bring this up to just before a boil, and while you are doing that, watch as “scum” (looks like foam) forms on the top of the stock. As it’s heating up, you’ll want to skim that off with a big spoon and toss it. Pay attention here, because you want to get it all, but you also don’t want to bring the stock to a rolling boil.
Once all of the scum has been skimmed off, let the stock simmer as long as you can. You want to check it every once in a while, but since you have not brought it to a boil, a nice clear stock should be developing slowly. The longer you let it simmer, the more flavor will develop. The thing you want to pay attention to here though, is that water is covering the chicken and vegetables--even if you have to add a little water, it’s OK.
At some point, the chicken and vegetables, and herbs will have given up all of their flavors. When this happens, pull them out and either toss them, or if you want, keep the meat (but it won’t have much flavor left in it!).
Let the stock simmer for as long as you feel you want to--just make sure it reduces some. The more it reduces, the more flavor it will have.
Things to watch out for:
Don’t salt until you think you are almost done. If you salt, then simmer too much more, it can come out too salty.
Don’t ever bring to a complete boil. You don’t need to, and it comes out clearer if you don’t.
Clear is not required! We aren’t in a restaurant here!
Basically this involves cutting some stuff up, adding some water, and making sure to do a couple of maintenance items. While it does take some time, this could just not be easier, and is so worth the effort. I make a huge batch, then store in freezer bags to thaw and use later. Some people put it in ice trays, freeze, and then store, which I think is an awesome idea.
Make, and enjoy!