I adore chicken stocks and vegetable stocks in soup, to cook rice or other grains, to use for sauces, or sometimes just to drink warm like tea. They are nourishing, satisfying, and versatile, and form a good cornerstone for every kitchen. But buying high quality broth and stock that is free of preservatives, sugars, yeast extracts, and crazy additives can be very expensive, and can sometimes be hard to find. Sure, t is great in a pinch or when you just want something convenient, but the cost adds up! So whenever possible, I like to make my own in a big batch and freeze it up for later use. Not only is it incredibly easy, it is also incredibly economical. You really don't need to buy anything extra to make stock, because it uses all the leftovers and "waste" that is leftover from cooking endeavors: bones, skin, scraps, vegetable trimmings, etc. The best stock is cooked for a long time over low heat; it allows for the flavor to become full and rich. Whether making a vegetable stock or a chicken/turkey stock, the same rule applies: the longer you simmer, the richer the flavor. The richer the stock, the more delicious your soup or other dish will be!
There's a million stock recipes out there, some are more complex with others. I usually make a really big batch at once, and just keep it simple so it can be more versatile later on in recipes. Here is what I do for making vegetable and chicken stock. I've never tried making beef stock before, but would like to try my hand at it! You can make as little or as much stock as you choose - obviously, the ratio of water to vegetable/chicken, as well as the length of cooking time, will determine how flavorful your stock becomes. My favorite way is to make it in the slow cooker, because it requires no effort at all and you can leave it simmer all day. once you spend 10 minutes getting your ingredients together, your work is done!
VEGETABLE STOCK (gluten free, vegan)
Instead of throwing away vegetable scraps when you cook, save them! For example...
- carrot peels,
- onion peels (not too many)
- parsley stems or other herb scraps
- celery ends
- broccoli or cauliflower staulks
- mushroom stems
- green bean ends
- other vegetable trimmings
If you cook frequently, you'll have plenty of good scraps in no time! Sometimes I"ll keep a container in my fridge for scraps, they will last for a few days without going weird. When you have a a couple cups worth of scraps, throw them in a big stockpot or slow cooker with a bunch of water, a little salt, peppercorns, and maybe a bouquet garni of fresh herbs (if you have any on hand), and if desired, a coarsely chopped carrot or two, celery branch, and an onion for extra flavor. Then let it simmer away for 6-24 hours (if using a slowcooker, put it on low and let it sit), and soon enough, you've got great vegetable broth!
Pour through strainer to remove vegetable scraps and herbs, and if desired, add salt to taste. Use immediately, or let cool and refrigerate or freeze for later use. Will keep 7-10 days in the fridge; bring to boil before using in recipes if storing in fridge.
CHICKEN (OR TURKEY) STOCK (gluten free, dairy free, egg free)
My favorite stock ever is chicken stock. I love cooking whole chickens, removing the meat, and then using the drippings and leftover skin and bones to make stock. Sometimes, if I don't feel like cooking a whole chicken myself, I'll buy a rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods or the co-op. Once I get that sucker home, I'll eat some right away, and by that I mean LITERALLY the second I get in the door, because those things are so good fresh and warm. Like chicken candy.
After I've finished gorging myself on chicken (sorry for that image, vegetarian and vegan readers), I'll separate the rest of the meat from the bones and skin, freezing most of the chicken for later. Don't throw away that skin and bones when you disassemble your bird! That's the good stuff! That stuff just wants to be transformed into nutritious, delicious stock. This is the perfect thing to do after cooking a holiday turkey! You could also do this with any other poultry - cornish hen, duck, capon, etc.
All you need is...
leftover bones, tendons, and skin from 1 chicken
any chicken drippings
1 onion, 2 carrots, 1 celery branch, coarsely chopped
a splash of apple cider vinegar
If you want to get fancy...
a bay leaf
other herbs or seasonings
other vegetable trimmings
Put the chicken in the pot with the vegetables. Fill the pot with water, add the vinegar. Bring to a boil, skim off any foam, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer over low heat for 6-24 hours. Strain broth to remove solid matter - remove vegetables and use them for something else, and discard chicken bones and skin. Use immediately, or freeze for later use! Will keep in the fridge for around 7 days, boil before using.
If making in the slowcooker, sometimes I like to start it in a stockpot to bring it to a good boil - this well help kill any unwelcome bacteria on your chicken bones - then transfer it to the slow cooker. I'll leave it on low for up to 24 hours, and get the tastiest stock ever! Again, strain before using.