Homemade Stocks

Chicken Stock

The most fundamental building block behind every soup is the stock. Be it a homemade stock, like the ones you’ll read about in this section, or a store-bought variety, you’ll want to ensure that it has a rich, deep flavor.

There are two schools of thought behind creating a stock. The first is to add raw ingredients to a pot, cover with cold water, then simmer for a few hours; I’ve found that this method is perfect for chicken and fish stocks. However, when I’m making beef stock or vegetable broth, I subscribe to the second school of thought: searing or roasting the ingredients before adding the water.

Regardless of the method you prefer, there are four basic steps you’ll want to follow:

  • Always start with cold water. Cold water keeps the meat from coagulating and allows the maximum amount of flavor to slowly and steadily be released from your ingredients.
  • Skim the surface for scum. As the meats and vegetables cook, fat and foam will be thrown to the top of the pot (Figure 1), and if not removed, could cause an unpleasant taste and a cloudy appearance.
  • Simmer not boil. With the exception of the initial boil, never let your stock or broth rise above a simmer, otherwise you may end up with a bitter aftertaste.
  • Make ahead and refrigerate. Refrigerating overnight allows the fats and and impurities to solidify on the surface where they can be removed easily (Figure 2).

Figure 1 – Skim the surface for scum.

Skimming

Figure 2 – Remove the fat.

IMG_0091

Equipment:

  • Large stockpot
  • Fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth lined colander
  • Roasting pan
  • Tongs
  • Large slotted spoon
  • Ladle
  • Instant-read meat thermometer
  • Storage container big enough to hold 2-4 quarts

Freezing your Stock:

Because stock is such an integral part of everyday cooking, it’s always smart to have an ample supply on hand. Whether I’m using it in soup, a creamy risotto, or to boost the flavor of roasted vegetables, homemade stock has become my go-to ingredient for many a meal.

When I’m making stock for soup, I often double the recipe and freeze what I don’t use in 2 cup quantities to thaw later, whenever I need it. Here are some easy tips on freezing your homemade stock:

  1. Measure out your stock and decide if you’re going to freeze it as a large quantity or divide it into smaller portions. For instance, if I know I’ll be making soup soon, I freeze about 6 cups of stock in one Ziplock bag, but if I’m freezing it just for the sake of having extra stock on hand, I divide it into 2-cup quantities (the typical amount called for when cooking).
  2. Label freezer bags (with permanent marker!) with the type of stock, the date, and the quantity (Figure A). It may be obvious to you at the time that what you’re pouring into your freezer bag is chicken stock, but I guarantee that in two months time you’ll be scratching your head and wondering about the oddly colored frozen substance that’s snuggled up next to your ice cream.
  3. Fill your kitchen sink ¾ of the way full with cold water.
  4. Add the correct volume of stock to your freezer bag(s) and zip closes, leaving a 1-inch open at one end for air to escape.
  5. Slowly submerge a stock-filled bag into the water, while pressing the unfilled portion of the bag against the side of the sink until you have reached the zipper part of the bag (Figure B). As the bag drops deeper into the water, all the air will be pushed out of the 1-inch opening, creating an (almost) airtight container.
  6. Zip the bag completely, allow it to dry, then lay it flat in your freezer. Stock can be frozen for 4-5 months.

Figure A – Measure your stock and label your freezer bag.

IMG_0296

Figure B – Remove the air from your freezer bag by submerging it in water.

Freezing Stock

RECIPES

Chicken Stock

Homemade Chicken Stock

  • 4-5 lb. roasting hen (with neck and giblets) or 4-5 lbs. chicken parts (necks, back, wings, thighs)
  • 1 white or yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts only, coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
  • 4 fresh Italian parsley sprigs
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6-8 whole black peppercorns
  • Kosher salt to taste

Place chicken in stockpot, and add cold water to cover by 2-3 inches. Bring water to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to a simmer. Skim fat and scum from surface as it rises to the top. Simmer for 1 hour, uncovered, skimming as needed, then add the remaining ingredients and continue to simmer, partially covered, for an additional 40 minutes to 1 hour.

If using a roasting hen, insert an instant-read meat thermometer into the largest part of the thigh and gently remove from the pot once the temperature reaches 165°. Allow chicken to cool slightly before cutting the meat away from the bone. Place meat in a storage container and season with 1 tsp. salt. Reserve chicken for soup or another use. Place carcass, skin, and unused meat back into the stock pot and simmer for 1 more hour. If using chicken parts, skip the previous step and leave all parts in the stock pot and simmer for a total of 2 more hours.

Scoop out remaining chicken parts and vegetable solids and place in a fine-mesh sieve set over a large storage container. With the back of a spoon, gently push on the solids to release as much liquid as possible. Discard solids. Pour the stock through the sieve, then refrigerate, uncovered overnight or until cool and fat has solidified on top. Using a slotted spoon, lift the layer of fat off the stock and discard. Pour stock through a sieve set over a bowl or soup pot. At this point, the stock is ready to use, refrigerate (up to 5 days), or freeze (4-5 months).

Beef Stock

  • 4-5 lbs. mix of meaty beef shanks, plus oxtails and/or marrow bones
  • 2 yellow onions, peeled and quartered
  • 3 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 4 fresh Italian parsley sprigs
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6-8 whole black peppercorns
  • Kosher salt to taste

Preheat oven to 450°. Roast beef shanks and bones in a roasting pan, turning occasionally, until browned, about 20-30 minutes. Add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic to pan and roast an additional 20-30 minutes until caramelized.

Transfer beef, bones, and vegetables to a large stock pot and add cold water to cover by 2 inches. Pour fat from roasting pan and add ½ cup of water to pan. Over medium-high heat, stir the water, scraping up the browned bits, until the pan is deglazed. Add glaze, parsley, thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns to stockpot. Bring water to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to a simmer. Skim fat and scum from surface as it rises to the top. Simmer for 4-6 hours, uncovered, skimming as needed.

Gently remove beef shanks and bones from the pot and allow to cool slightly before cutting the meat away from the bone. Save beef for soup, or reserve for another use. Scoop marrow from bones and place in a ceramic dish, season with salt and pepper, refrigerate and reserve for another use (reheat and spread over grilled rustic bread brushed with olive oil). Discard bones.

Scoop out solids and place in a fine-mesh sieve set over a large storage container. With the back of a spoon, gently push on the solids to release as much liquid as possible. Discard solids. Pour the remaining stock through the sieve, then refrigerate, uncovered overnight or until cool and fat has solidified on top. Using a slotted spoon, lift the layer of fat off the stock and discard. Pour stock through a sieve set over a bowl or soup pot. At this point, the stock is ready to use, refrigerate (up to 5 days), or freeze (4-5 months).

Beef & Burgundy Stock

The addition of wine in this stock lends a richness and depth to more complex soups like Hearty Lentil or Beef Barley with Shiitake Mushrooms.

  • 5 lbs. oxtails, seasoned with Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 4 large shallots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 ½ cups Burgundy wine, or another dry red wine such as Pinot Noir
  • 4 fresh Italian parsley sprigs
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 6 cups cold water
  • Kosher salt to taste

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, cook seasoned oxtails until seared and brown on all sides, about 12-15 minutes. If needed, add 1 Tbsp. oil to pot between batches. Transfer to a plate.

Add 1 Tbsp. oil to pot and cook shallots, carrots, and celery, turing occasionally, until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add wine and stir, scraping up the browned bits, until reduced by half, about 5-6 minutes. Add parsley, thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Return oxtails to pot and cover with 6 cups cold water. Bring water to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to a simmer. Skim fat and scum from surface as it rises to the top. Simmer for 3-4 hours, uncovered, skimming as needed, until meat is falling off the bone.

Gently remove oxtails from the pot and allow to cool slightly before pulling the meat away from the bone. Save beef for soup, or reserve for another use. Scoop marrow from bones and place in a ceramic dish, season with salt and pepper, refrigerate and reserve for another use (reheat and spread over grilled rustic bread brushed with olive oil). Discard bones.

Scoop out solids and place in a fine-mesh sieve set over a large storage container. With the back of a spoon, gently push on the solids to release as much liquid as possible. Discard solids. Pour the remaining stock through the sieve, then refrigerate, uncovered overnight or until cool and fat has solidified on top. Using a slotted spoon, lift the layer of fat off the stock and discard. Pour stock through a sieve set over a bowl or soup pot. At this point, the stock is ready to use, refrigerate (up to 5 days), or freeze (4-5 months).

Vegetable Broth

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 large onions, quartered
  • 2 large carrots, quartered, tops reserved
  • 8 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 large leeks, washed, trimmed, tough outer leaves removed
  • 3 large sprigs thyme
  • 3 large sprigs rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp. Kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 3 quarts water

Preheat oven to 450°. In a large baking dish toss onions, carrots, garlic, and leeks with olive oil and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. salt. Roast for 45 minutes or until golden brown and tender.

Transfer vegetables to a large stock pot and combine with carrot tops, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, peppercorns, and water. Bring to a boil then immediately reduce heat to a simmer. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally for 1 hour or until the broth is reduced to about 8 cups.

Scoop out solids and place in a fine-mesh sieve set over a large storage container. With the back of a spoon, gently push on the solids to release as much liquid as possible. Discard solids. Pour the remaining broth through the sieve, then refrigerate, uncovered overnight or until cool and fat has solidified on top. Using a slotted spoon, lift the layer of fat off the broth and discard. Pour broth through a sieve set over a large bowl or soup pot. Taste and season with more Kosher salt if needed. At this point, the broth is ready to use, refrigerate (up to 5 days), or freeze (4-5 months).

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