I LOVE homemade stock. Store bought “broth” has such shallow flavor and is much too salty in many cases. I use it sometimes, I don’t like it most of the time. I know making stock is sometimes a larger job than any working cook wants to tackle, but it can be done in a few hours – while doing other things, and you don’t need to buy expensive things to get it done.
I collect carcasses. Macabre right? Every time I buy a rotisserie chicken, have a turkey dinner or just roast up a chicken at home, I save the bones and any meat I didn’t pick off. If I make a beef roast, I save those bones also and freeze them. I’m not going to lie, right now I think I have about 4 or 5 chicken carcasses and a mess of roast bones in the freezer. When I get some time, I make stock.
The basics are pretty easy – you can vary based on what you have – but here’s my base stock recipe. Below I’ll share a few variations that I love to throw together if I can.
My stock recipe is considered a “brown stock” because I roast the bones beforehand. This makes a much richer and darker stock. You can skip this step if you like.
Also -don’t be alarmed – when all the way chilled in the fridge, your stock will likely look like jello. This is because of the gelatin in the bones – it’s good for you! Think natural glucosamine and condroitin pills!
Making Stock – The Basics
- 4-5 lbs beef or chicken bones
- 4-5 Carrots - cleaned and ends trimmed cut in half - no need to peel
- 1 onion peeled & quartered
- 4 stalks of celery - cut in half
- 2 cloves of garlic peeled
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
Line a cookie sheet with foil and lay out your bones. sprinkle with salt & pepper and roast the bones in a 400 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes. You want them to brown well, but you don't want them to burn, so if they are getting too brown take them out early.
While the bones are roasting, prep your vegetables and throw them in your dutch oven - you don't need to saute them, raw is fine.
When the bones are done, place them in your dutch oven and rinse out your cookie sheet with a cup or two of water, these brown bits are amazing, don't waste them!
Fill the dutch oven up until its almost full - about an inch from the top. Generally with the extra stuff I can get 4 1/2 quarts of water in my 6 qt dutch oven. If you have a stock pot that holds gallons of water, double or triple this recipe.
Turn the burner on medium and put the lid on. You don't want this to boil hard, it makes cloudy stock, but you do want it to cook, I generally bring to a boil and reduce the heat until it's just barely simmering.
Let stock simmer slowly for 45 minutes and check for salt. Adjust and then strain into another bowl or pan.
If you didn't have really fatty bones - you're probably done and can package for freezing. If you feel there is a lot of fat in your stock, cool it in the fridge overnight then skim before freezing.
I freeze in 1-2 quart containers and thaw as needed.
Variations on a theme!
- Ddd a bundle of fresh thyme to your stock – yum!
- Add a couple of Thai chilies (whole), a handful of basil and a lime cut in half – Thai Chicken Stock!
- A bundle of basil, thyme and parsley tied together and added to stock – called a Bouquet Garni – is a great flavoring agent.
- Add a few tablespoons of tomato paste to your beef broth, it will deepen the flavor and color!
- Add a handful of dried mushrooms to your beef stock. I love adding dried porchini to mine – great flavor
- Add a bit of exotic by rubbing some five-spice powder over the bones before you roast them. This would be great for a stock you’re going to use for pho or some other beef based asian soup.