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Volume II
September 30, 2003


Desiri Wightman, RD

Now don't panic! Stock making is quite simple to do. It mostly consists of putting ingredients in a pot and letting them simmer on the back of the stove. The advantages of homemade stock include that 1) it extracts every bit of good out of kitchen scraps like bones, meat remnants, and vegetables; 2) you can adjust the sodium content to your taste; 3) it is nutritious, 4) it contains no artificial colors, additives, or preservatives; 4) it freezes superbly for use when you need it; 5) you enjoy a higher quality and flavorful product over commercial broth or bouillon; and 6) you get that higher quality for less money. If all of that doesn't say homemade stock is worth the effort, you can certainly use canned or dried forms of stock, consommé, broth, or bouillon for the stock called for in sauce recipes.

The simplest way to accumulate ingredients for stock is to keep a container or baggy in your freezer to add kitchen scraps to until you acquire enough to stir up the stock. Toss in meat bones, chicken skin, vegetable peelings, onion skins, mature produce you don't care to steam, and so forth. When you have enough to make stock, place the ingredients in a pot. Pour in cold water, add seasonings (except salt), let it simmer for the recommended time, strain or clarify, cool, remove fat, and freeze. The following tips will help you create delightfully flavorful and clear stocks. They are general tips that can be applied to any type of stock, whether made from fish, chicken, meat, or vegetables.

1. Use only cold water when making or adding moisture to stock. Hot or warm water causes the meat proteins to coagulate into tiny particles that cloud the stock. When cold water is heated slowly, the proteins clump together and rise to the surface where they can be skimmed off easily.

2. Pour only enough water into the pot to cover approximately 3/4 of the meat, bones, or vegetables. As the stock cooks, the ingredients will settle into the water until they are covered. If they don't settle enough to be completely covered, add a little more water. Using this method will ensure that your stock doesn't become too flat in flavor or thin due to excess water use.

3. Heat stock slowly, uncovered, to a simmer. Avoid boiling it as those pesky proteins will cloud up your stock and flavor it with a greasy bite. Simmering slowly encourages the proteins and fat to float up to the top so you can skim them away.

4. The first 60 minutes of cooking skim the scum from the stock every 5-10 minutes. This will keep the impurities from working their way back down into the stock. After that first hour, you'll only need to skim the stock about every 30-60 minutes. Store your "skimming" tool (a ladle, spoon, etc.) in a glass of cold water while waiting for your skimming opportunities. This ensures that you won't keep putting the scum back into the stock when its time to skim.

5. Do not stir or move the stock contents while cooking; you'll just stir up more proteins and make the stock cloudy. Also, during the straining process, avoid pressing the contents through the sieve. Instead, patiently wait for the liquid to drain out by itself.

6. Avoid adding salt to the stock until you are ready to use it for sauces, soups, or gravies. As the liquid in stock evaporates, the salt concentrates and you'll find your stock is unpleasantly high in sodium.

7. Store prepared stock in the refrigerator for up to three days. If you'll be using it frequently over the course of a week, you can boil the stock every two or three days, return it to a clean container, and refrigerate it again. This will help fight off any possibility of bacteria building a settlement in your lovely stock. Of course, you can always freeze stock for up to 3 months. Be sure to store it in usable portion sizes.

8. You can create your own bouillon by reducing brown stock until it becomes like syrup and coats the spoon. Once cool, it will gel up. It will store in the refrigerator for several months in an airtight container. To use, simply spoon out a dab to flavor sauces, soups, and gravies, much as you would use a bouillon cube.

The following recipes give you a start on putting together a basic stock. However, don't feel confined to use only the ingredients listed. Certainly put whatever kitchen scraps you own to good use. After your stock is complete, you can use it in soup, gravy, or sauce recipe.

Basic Fish Stock (used in Veloute Sauce)
Makes 1-1/2 quarts

2 bay leaves
8 parsley stems (no leaves)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
14-18 whole peppercorns
2 pounds fish bones, tails, heads (gills removed)
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, peeled
1 stalk celery
Cold water (up to 8 cups)

Make a bouquet garni with the seasonings listed and tie to the handle of a large stockpot. Clean fish bones under running water. Dice the onion and celery. Sauté celery and onion in butter in the stockpot for 3-5 minutes or until onion is transparent. Top with fish scraps and cover with a piece of parchment paper. Cook on low for about 5 minutes; discard parchment paper. Bring to a simmer. Add the water to cover 3/4 of the scraps. Tie in bouquet garni. Simmer uncovered for 25-30 minutes, skimming off foam and impurities as they rise to the surface. As stock simmers, the scraps should settle enough to be covered by the water. If not, add additional water to cover. Untie the bouquet garni. Pour the stock and sachet into a strainer lines with several layers of dampened cheesecloth. Let drain. Discard scraps and sachet. Cool strained stock completely. Cover and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to seven days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Basic Chicken Stock (used in Béchamel)
Makes 4 quarts

2 bay leaves
10 parsley stems (no leaves)
1/2 teaspoon thyme
12-14 whole peppercorns
3 pounds chicken bones (wings, back, necks)
2 large onions, peeled
2 large carrots, peeled
2 stalks celery
Cold water (up to 4 quarts)

Prepare bouquet garni and tie to stockpot handle. Rinse bones under cold water. Cut the onions, carrots, and celery coarsely. Place bones in the stockpot. Add vegetables. Cover scraps 3/4 of the way up. As the contents simmer, they should settle until completely covered with water. Add more water as needed to ensure coverage. Drop in the sachet. Bring to a boil, skimming off any foam or impurities that rise to the surface. Reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 hours, uncovered, skimming as needed. Untie sachet. Pour stock through a strainer lined with several layers of dampened cheesecloth. Allow to drain. Cover and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to seven days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Brown Chicken Stock: Place the chicken parts in a single layer in a roasting pan and brown at 400 F. for 20 minutes. Chicken should be golden. Add chopped vegetables. Continue roasting for 45 more minutes or until chicken is completely browned and juices are caramelized on the bottom of the pan. Remove pan from oven and ladle off any fat. Pour in some cold water to deglaze the pan and stir with a spoon over high heat to dissolve the caramelized juices. Transfer the contents to a stockpot; add water to cover 3/4 of the way up the contents. Simmer for 40 minutes, skimming as needed. Add the bouquet garni, and then continue cooking for a total of 3 hours, uncovered. Strain the stock, cool and store.

Basic Beef Stock (used in Brown Sauce)
Makes 4 quarts

2 bay leaves
10 parsley stems (no leaves)
4 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
4 pounds beef bones (including marrow, cut into 3-4 inch pieces
2 onions, unpeeled
2 carrots, unpeeled
2 stalks celery
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Cold water (up to 4 quarts)

Prepare bouquet garni. Place bones in roasting pan and roast in oven at 400 F. for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, chop onions, carrots, and celery coarsely. After bones have roasted for 30 minutes, remove pan from oven and add vegetables. Return to oven and roast 20 minutes more. Brush bones with tomato paste on all sides and return to oven for 15-20 more minutes. Transfer bones and vegetables to a large stockpot. Drain off fat from roasting pan. Using a little water, loosen the brown particles on the pan's bottom, and then transfer that liquid and particles to the stockpot. Cover bones and vegetables with 3/4 of the way with the cold water. Drop in the bouquet garni, and bring to a boil, skimming off impurities and foam as they rise to the surface. As the contents settle, they should be completely covered with water. Add additional water as needed to ensure coverage. Reduce heat and simmer for 4-6 hours, uncovered, skimming as needed. Untie sachet and pour stock through a strainer lined with several layers of dampened cheesecloth. Press vegetables gently through strainer with a large spoon. Discard bones and sachet. Cool stock completely. Cover and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to seven days or freeze for up to 3 months.

         * DVO welcomes your kitchen hints and cooking or nutrition questions! Email us and we'll post your hints and Q/A's in upcoming newsletters! *

Men's Cards
Part II: Sauce Elements
Part III: The Five Basic Sauces
No More Boring White Sauce!
Clarifying Butter
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HomeCook'n Cover Page

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