Many of my recipes — heck, many of the recipes of great chefs! — call for the addition of chicken or vegetable stock. I use a lot of stock (mostly chicken) in my cooking. It’s a great way to add flavor to rice dishes, such as pilaf, potatoes, sauces, soups, and, well, just about everything. A few years ago, I realized I needed a) buy stock (ha!) in the companies that make these fine products, or b) start making my own stock.
Needless to say, I went with option B.
I’m a gluten-free cook, and my goal is to make everything as delicious as possible. Using a richly flavored stock in lieu of plain water adds another layer of flavor to any dish. Making my own allows me to control flavors and salt levels. I find commercial stocks to be overly salty, especially when I’m using them in recipes that already have lots of flavor.
Making stock is pretty simple: bring some water with your stock base in it to a boil, lower heat, simmer for a while. Easy, no?
Seriously, it is that easy. I generally keep two bags in the freezer to make my stock base: one to collect chicken carcasses for chicken stock (I use the roasted bones from a rotisserie chicken most often; roasted bones tend to give the stock a richer golden color). The bag holds vegetable trimmings for vegetable stock. When stock-making day rolls around, I set a big pot of water a on the back burner and let my stock base do its thing. I then ladle my stock into one-cup size freezer containers.
When it comes to active work time, I’m spending about a half hour. The rest happens on my stove. Best of all? I never find myself in a panic because the recipe I’m making calls for stock…and my pantry is empty.
Of course, every Thanksgiving, I toss the turkey carcass into my stockpot. This help replenish my freezer since I use a lot of chicken stock while making the main meal. To be honest, “checking” on the stock also gives me a bit of a respite from family after a long day. They say a watched pot never boils, but it sure does simmer just fine.
I also love using a light shrimp stock in dishes — when you’re peeling your uncooked shrimp, set the shells aside, toss them in about two cups of water and let simmer for up to an hour. For added flavor, toast your shrimp shells in a bit of olive oil, add some onions and celery, and let simmer until reduced by half. You can freeze what’s left over.
So tell me about your favorite recipes incorporating stock — and some of your favorite types of stock (other, ahem, than the kind that make you lots of money!).