Earlier this year..I was asked to write a post on making stocks..Here’s a rough outline of what I do, sorry it’s taken soo long!
Q:Why bother to make or use a stock?
A: It enhances the flavour & quality plus adds a depth to the end product- Stocks are highly nutritious and very cheap to make.
Starting a Chic stock
To begin..For a lightly coloured & flavoured stock, (white stock) don’t pre roast the bones- As in the above images. Ask for chicken frames at your local butcher or I bone out chicken marylands, using the bones for stock after marinating the meat for the BBQ. For a Roasted stock: Pop the bones onto an oven tray @ 200c for around 20-30mins or until caramelised/brown & then proceed as normal- Don’t burn the bones as could make a bitter stock! (never roast fish bones..they’re too fragile, delicate & it affects the flavour)
Points to consider:
- Use a stainless steel saucepan or stockpot that’s not too small.
- Use fresh ingredients- Sour bones will make a sour stock!
- Only add basic neutral vegetables that won’t break up when cooked, to your stock i.e: carrot, leek, onion, celery, bay leaf, garlic, (fennel bulb tops, are my twist) parsley stalks/thyme/spring onion tops & black peppercorns. Def do not use starchy veggies like potatoes!
- Trim excess fat off the bones, unless you’re planning to store the finished stock in the fridge overnight. Then the fat sets on top & can easily be discarded the next day.
- Do not add salt- We are encouraging the flavour to impart into the liquid.
- Simmer, don’t boil your stock & do skim with a ladle when the scum floats to the surface. I bring the stock to the boil, skim & add the veggies..it’s a lot easier to remove scum.
- Be careful not to overcook or reduce the stock over the bones- Especially for glaze making. It affects the flavour & clarity- Possibly a cloudy & muddy tasting result!
- Initially fill the pot with COLD water, covering the bones. NEVER USE HOT WATER, the flavour will not fully release into the water.
- Strain your finished hot stock thru a fine chinois or use a clean t-towel/muslin cloth. Discard bones & veggies but don’t feed to your dog, as it can upset their tummy.
- A few uses for your stock: Risotto, braises, stews, pie fillings, soups broths, mornay’s (veloute based) and sauces.
- Roasted stocks are used when a richer darker flavoured stock is required, like in glazes, braises & sauces. White stocks are great when the flavour and colour needs to be subtle. Veloute’s (like a béchamel/white sauce) & risotto’s are a good use for a lighter coloured stock.
Skimmed & simmering.
Strained hot stock.
I love using my stocks to make Asian soups, when I add the following: Turmeric, kaffir lime leaves, chilli, lemongrass & ginger to the pot with the veggie off cuts just after the first skimming.
Stock cooking times: This will depend on the quantity you’re making, times are from the point of boil- Then it’s reduced to a simmer.
Fish & Veggie stocks are the shortest- Cook for a maximum of 30 mins. Chicken, Veal & Duck/Game stock- Cook max of 1.5 hrs. Beef stock- Cook max of 3 hours- Generally I do 45 mins-1 hour for an initial 4-5 litre batch. If you’re cooking a huge pot of stock or in a commercial kitchen the cooking times will be extended. I cook my stocks outside on a portable gas trivet to save smelling/steaming up my house. For fish stocks take care when straining the finished stock, try to minimize the movement of fish bones in the pot by holding tongs firmly onto the fishy bits- Makes for a clearer stock with less sediment- I throw the fish bones into my compost after cooking!
To get you started on a Chicken stock: 500g bones+4lt cold water+125g veggie pieces..simmer for 45mins-1hr= approx 1.75-2lts of stock. Drain the stock thru a fine sieve & discard bones/veggies. Once up to speed, don’t worry about quantities. Too many bones, veggies & not enough water will leave you with hardly any stock-You’ll only make that mistake once!
Making a glaze: After your roasted beef or chicken stock is drained & devoid of fat, why not try making a glaze (a rich sticky naturally reduced sauce) Once you taste a delicious chicken or beef glaze, gravy will become a distant memory!!! Glazes kept in the freezer can be added to pan juices to make an instant preservative free sauce. To Make: Place stock into a good sized stainless steel saucepan & reduce on high heat until rich & viscous. Strain thru a fine sieve & refrigerate or freeze- The glaze will set once chilled. Expect 1.75 Litres of stock to make around 200ml of glaze-Always pre-roast the bones for glazes, it adds that extra depth of flavour & colour.
Stocks & glazes may appear to be quite labour intensive, but once the routine has been established, you’ll hardly find them time consuming- I always have a couple of litres of stock on hand in the freezer for emergencies. Anyone that’s been unwell will know how amazing it is to have a homemade stock based soup, they’re so strengthening. Enjoy!