Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Making stock

Not taking stock, but making it.

I use stock a lot when I cook.  If I make rice (especially for a skillet meal), I cook it in stock instead of water.  A lot of recipes I use call for stock, and I will often replace water (or water and a bullion cube) with that amount of stock.

I make it quite simply.  I take the carcass (chicken or turkey, or beef bones if I have them) and simmer them for several hours in a large stockpot.  I'll throw in some peppercorns and assorted herbs to add flavor, maybe a teaspoon of salt.  I let it cook a long time because otherwise, it will be weak.  Then I let it reduce if I want very intense flavor.

I cool it off, skim off the fat, and will either pressure can it (it's much easier to use stock that doesn't have to be defrosted) or freeze it (if I have no jars left or if there's only enough for a jar or two). 

I will sometimes freeze it in ice-cube trays and pop the fully frozen stock cubes into a ziploc bag that is clearly marked "chicken stock."  I mean, you don't want those things ending up in your iced tea.  I'm just sayin'.  I like the stock cubes because if you want to add a little water to something--a frozen or leftover soup that got very thick and needs thinning out, for example--they come in quite handy.  One or two are also are good for adding a little bit of extra flavor to things you wouldn't necessarily expect to pick up the flavor--pasta cooking water, for example, or sauces or sautees.

I do the same thing with vegetable stock.  I take the scraps and save them in a container in the freezer.  When it's filled up, I simmer it for several hours, let it cool, strain it, and either can it or freeze it.  I like to keep vegetable stock onhand because I have vegetarian friends, and it's a good replacement for chicken stock.  Also, I like using every bit of something before throwing it away or composting it.

Also, I know what's in the stock I make.  It's not high in sodium, it has no color added, and no weird chemicals or additives with seven syllables.

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