Guest post by Jenn Courtney
Every culture on the planet has a signature comfort meal in a bowl and at the heart of any good soup, stew, chowder or gumbo is a good soup stock; it’s an often overlooked ingredient in the healthy kitchen; beef stock, chicken stock, seafood stock, lamb stock, vegetable stock – combined with the right spices you can tailor each dish to your cultural whims (for maximum succulence). Whether you make it yourself or keep purchased stock/bouillon on hand, use it as a base of flavours to build on and add a dash of panache to your meals.
What’s the difference between stock and broth? Technically both are clear soup, the difference is how you use it; soup stock is generally used as a base for other things (e.g., sauces and soups) and broth is usually a stand –alone dish (consommé, for example, is a clear beef broth, usually served with fresh chopped green onions). Bouillon is hyper condensed and usually sold in powder or cube form. It’ll do in a pinch though is often overloaded with salt, so I recommend using it as a last resort.
Making your own stock is an easy and economical option – make a heaping vat of it and freeze it for future meals, all you need is a good soup pot and time (hint: making stock is a great rainy day activity). Soup stock will keep for 2-4 days fresh in the fridge and up to 6 months in the freezer.
Now for the ‘stocking up’ – here’s your lock, stock and basics:
First, you’ll need a Dutch oven (10 quarts) and a few hours to spare; you want to slow simmer your stock for 2-3 hours. Alternatively, you can use a slow cooker; several hours on low heat will yield a good brew. All of these stock recipes can be reduced to increase the flavour, just simmer down to your taste preference.
Keep it simple – don’t over season your stock – you want to leave room for adding other flavours (for example, ginger/lemongrass in vegetable stock to add Thai flair).
Basic chicken stock
- 4 pounds chicken legs/breasts cut in large chunks and/or the carcass of a roast chicken; 1 small carrot, peeled and sliced; 1 small stalk celery, sliced; 1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped; 1 leek, white part only, sliced; fresh parsley (3 or 4 sprigs); 2 sprigs fresh thyme; Salt to taste (keep it light); 1 bay leaf; a few sprigs fresh rosemary, 1 clove garlic, crushed and peeled; 10-20 whole peppercorns; 20 cups water
- TURKEY STOCK – use the same ingredients, double the portions and use the carcass of a roasted turkey
Basic Beef Stock
- 5lbs beef bones (veal bones make the richest broth, but any beef bones will do); 2 large onions, left whole; 4 whole cloves; 5 quarts cold water; 5 carrots, left whole; 2 stalks celery, left whole (with bushy ends on them); 1 leek, white part only, quartered; 1 large head garlic, unpeeled; fresh parsley to taste, or 1/2 teaspoon dried; 3 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried; 1 bay leaf
Place all ingredients into your Dutch oven (2-3 hours) or slow cooker (4-6 hours), stir occasionally and skim off any foam. Once you`re done simmering, strain the stock through a colander and refrigerate; once cooled you can skim off the fat, or keep it if you want a richer broth.
Super Simple Vegetable Stock
- 4 cups coarse chopped carrots; 2 large onions coarse chopped; 6 stalks whole celery, coarse chopped; 2 large leeks, white part only, thinly sliced; 6 potatoes, skins on, cubed; 2 large tomatoes, chopped; 1 large bunch of parsley, coarse chopped, I bulb peeled garlic (leave cloves whole, but separated); salt and pepper to taste.
Place all ingredients into your Dutch oven and simmer for 1- 1½ hours, the longer you simmer the stronger the flavour.
For the love of your taste buds, don’t stop there!? Here are some ideas:
- Rice dishes – cooking with water is boring! Cook your rice in soup stock to match your meal (veggie stock for veggie dishes for example). This works for any kind of rice, especially risotto.
- Basting: while your steak is resting, drizzle a little bit of soup stock over it and let the flavours seep in; use chicken broth to baste a roasting chicken.
- Bake/broil chicken or fish in broth for extra savoury goodness.
- Roasted vegetables in savoury broth; caramelizing onions, basting grilled vegetables – need I say more? 🙂
- Gravy – soup stock is marvelous for making any gravy if you don’t have freshly cooked meat juices to use and is essential for vegetarian gravies.
- Pasta sauce – use your broth of choice to cook your veggies and meat, AND THEN add the tomato sauce etc. (Ps: this is perfect for pesto pasta w. veggies).
- Breakfast! – baste your eggs; flavour your hash browns.
*Sean’s note: we use chicken broth when we make chard on the stove. We saute until coated and then add chicken stock and braise until wilted to desired liking.
A good stock can set the stage for a great meal and is a healthy and tasty way to add flavour to just about any dish you can imagine.
Enjoy the noms,
Nearly Naked Nourishment – Succulence Starts Here