Taking Stock – Making Stock
BY AMY PENNINGTON
PHOTO BY DELLA CHEN
Winter is the perfect time to move your attention from stocking your pantry to stocking your freezer. The absence of farm fresh greens brings dependence on root vegetables and alliums—perfect partners for making homemade stock. Making chicken stock can be an incredibly easy process using leftover roast chicken, or a more intense cooking project if you are searching for a perfectly clear stock with intense flavor and brilliant clarity. Try both! For the vegetable stock, we move away from traditional flavors and add a fennel bulb to the mix.
Pantry Note: Chicken stock will not necessarily go bad in your freezer, but it does have the potential to get freezer burn. To minimize the risk, cover your stock with a layer of plastic wrap, making sure it is lying directly on the surface, before putting on the plastic container lid. I have used stock that is plenty older than four months with good results.[/twocolumns]
Fennel Scented Stock
Makes about 4 cups | start to finish: 1.5 hours
The following vegetable stock recipe is an excellent way to incorporate a new flavor into traditional vegetable stock by using whole fennel bulbs, which are available throughout the winter. The finished stock will have a slight licorice-note and a gentle flavor thanks to the addition of leeks instead of onions. Use this simple stock as a base broth for a light fish soup, or enrich it by adding a splash of cream and diced potatoes. This stock also makes a wonderful addition to a pot of steamed clams in the middle of winter. If you have Pernod, a splash of this anise-scented liquor will liven up the finished soup after it has spent some time in the freezer.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 whole leek, rinsed and cut into thin circles
1 medium fennel bulb & fronds, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
Splash of dry white wine
Water, to cover
1 fresh or dried bay leaf
A few whole black peppercorns
Place olive oil and butter in the bottom of a large stockpot and heat over medium-high. Add the leek and a pinch of salt, sauté, stirring often, until leeks are soft, about 6 minutes. Add the fennel bulb and carrot, sautéing until the pot is almost dry and vegetables start to stick. Add a splash white wine, stirring to deglaze.Cover the vegetables with two inches of water, add the bay leaf and peppercorns and bring the mixture to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low and cover, simmering for an hour. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl and drain the stock from the solids. Put the stock in the fridge until cool. Once the stock has cooled, use within three days or pour into plastic freezer tubs and store for up to four months.
Superb Chicken Stock
Makes about 6 cups | start to finish: 2.5 hours
This chicken stock is a labor of love, but will make the most beautiful clear stock you will ever see. You first blanch and then cook a whole chicken gently in a water bath to draw out the maximum flavor. While the meat will be spent (having given its all to flavor the broth), you can still use it in cold salads or pot pies with success, extending your dollar even further.
1 whole chicken, 4 to 5 lbs, cut into pieces
1 carrot, cut into thick slices
1 celery stalk, cut into thick slices
1 onion, peeled and cut into large cubes
1 bay leaf
About 6 cups water
Bring water to a boil. Cut chicken into several pieces, making sure to cut through some bones. Add chicken to boiling water and blanch until water comes back up to a boil. Drain into a colander and rinse with cool water.
Fill a tea kettle with water and bring toa boil. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large pot (about 5 or 6 quarts), place chicken, vegetables and bay leaf and cover with water. Cover and set pot in a deep-sided roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with hot water from the kettle, creating a water bath. Place roasting pan in oven and bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Remove the chicken, and reserve for picking. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl and drain the stock from the remaining vegetables. Put the stock in the fridge until cool. Once the stock has cooled, use within three days or pour into plastic freezer tubs and store for up to four months.
Excerpted from Urban Pantry: Resourceful Chicken Stock
Makes 4 cups | start to finish: 2 to 2.5 hours
This recipe is called “resourceful” as it’s made up of various bits and bobs you have in the kitchen and does not adhere to strict proportions. This is an excellent way to use up pantry vegetables that are past their prime. The only thing you must have is the leftover carcass from a roast chicken. It is important to re-roast the bones creating a nice brown caramel on the bottom of your stockpot. This adds more flavor than if you were to simply cover them with water, as you would if making stock from a fresh bird.
1 cooked and picked chicken carcass, broken up into sections small enough to fit in your stockpot
Chicken heart and neck (reserved from whole roast chicken)
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 fresh or dried bay leaf
Herb stalks (any you’ve saved)
Salt to taste
Water, about two quarts
Cover the bottom of a large stockpot with olive oil and heat over medium-high. When the stockpot is hot, add the chicken carcass, heart and neck. The trick here is to not continuously stir the meat and bones, but to let them sit on the heat and caramelize, about 10 minutes, stirring only occasionally. Once the bones are brown, remove them from the stockpot and set aside.
Put the carrot, onion, celery, and garlic in the stockpot. Cook for about 5 to 10 minutes or until brown. When the veggies have caramelized, drop the chicken bones, neck, and heart back into the stockpot and cover with 2 inches with water. Add the bay leaf and herb stalks and bring all to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for and one to two hours.
Set a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl and drain the stock from the solids. Discard the solids. Season the stock with salt to your taste. Put the stock in the fridge until cool. Once the stock has cooled, use within three days or pour into plastic freezer tubs and store for up to four months.
Five Vegetables to Avoid in Stock
Beets: the flavor is too earthy…and they’ll turn your broth red!
Broccoli: part of the brassica family (think kale, Brussels sprouts) this family is far too strong for stock and will add a bitter flavor and smell.
Potatoes: these add no flavor and their starches cloud the stock’s clarity.
Squash: squash, both summer and winter varieties, do not add flavor to stocks.
Lettuces: lettuce is composed mostly of water, and will add nothing in flavor.