Why aren’t you making stock? Too hard? Too time-consuming? Read on for some simple and relatively quick techniques.
Stock is essentially flavored water, it’s just a matter of degree after that (though I feel certain trained chefs would strike me down for saying this). But I am the Practical Cook, and making stock is an extremely practical practice. (Try saying that three times fast.) You’re making use of ingredients that have either been used once (a nice way of saying “carcass”), are cheap (bones), or are destined for the compost heap (veggie bits).
Easy Chicken or Turkey Stock
1 onion, quartered (optional)
1 carrot, cleaned and peeled (optional)
leftovers from rotisserie chicken (though I prefer plain, you can use a flavored one) or turkey, including skin, bones, and any remaining meat not reserved for another purpose
1. If using the vegetables, add a dash of oil to a 4 to 6 quart stockpot and heat over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add veggies to pot and cover, sauteing them until lightly softened.
2. Add the chicken parts. Cover with water. Raise the heat to medium high and bring to a boil, skimming any scum/foam off the top and discarding.
3. Lower heat to medium or medium low, keeping the water at a low simmer. Simmer for about an hour, until stock reaches desired concentration.
4. Pour stock through sieve or strainer, pressing solids to extract all liquid. Cool, remove excess fat, put in containers that serve your needs, and freeze. (TPC recommends 1/2 cup portions.)
Easy Pork Stock
3 lbs (or less, whatever you can get) pork bones
Take a very large stockpot. Put pork bones in it. Cover with water. Bring to a boil. Skim the scum and discard. Reduce heat and simmer for an hour or so. Pour stock through sieve or strainer, setting bones aside. Cool, remove excess fat, store in 6 to 8 cup containers, freeze. Remove any remaining meat from bones and freeze in small portions separately. Great for use in Pork Noodle Soup.
**Note: Not everyone is a fan of pork stock. The Practical Cook sometimes adds 1/2 cup or more of chicken stock to round out the flavors. Also, I know that roasting the bones first would deepen the flavor, but I just haven’t gotten around to trying this yet! The soup is served by a clearer broth, so for now, this is practical.
Easy Vegetable Stock
mixture of leftover veggie bits, including carrot, potato, asparagus stalks, mushroom stems, parsley, etc.
a few black peppercorns
Collect the vegetable bits (in the freezer for heartier ones) until you have enough to fill your slow cooker at least 1/3 to 1/2 full. Place the vegetables into the slow cooker. Add the peppercorns. Cover with water. Cook for 6 hours on low heat, or 10 hours on high heat. Pour stock through sieve or strainer, pressing solids to extract juice. Cool, store in 6 to 8 cup containers, freeze.
The idea and courage to make vegetable stock in a slow cooker came from the amazing ladies behind Kitchen Scoop! (and the Desperation Dinners! cookbooks), Alicia Ross and Beverly Mills. I highly recommend Cheap, Fast, Good for anyone looking for a solid addition to their cookbook library. They have a gift for taking complex cooking techniques and recipes and distilling them to their essence. (Full disclosure, I also worked with them in a past life.)
Tomorrow, an installment on a favorite topic, the Art of Dining Out. Just because you are committed to cooking at home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing field research!
What would you like to see covered in an upcoming post? Post comments here, on Facebook, via email (practicalcook at gmail dot com), or Twitter (practicalcook).