Making Stock

I previously posted on a way to make a turkey that would leave you with the bulk of the bird’s uncooked skeleton, and I promised some tips for how to make good stock.

Making stock involves cooking, in water, stuff that imparts flavor, such as meat and vegetables. But there are a few guidelines that will produce better stock. Here they are:

  • If you wouldn’t eat it by itself, consider not using it in the stock either. This does not apply to things such as onion skins, which are a great addition to stock. But don’t use anything that is off.
  • Use excellent water preferably clean tap water.
  • When using meat, start the meat in cold water and warm the water up very slowly. Ideally, your first bubbles indicating boiling will not appear until at least an hour after you’ve started the stock, if you’ve got three or four quarts (or more) of water in the pot. You can rush the meat if you have to, but always start with cold water.
  • Vegetables can be boiled in stock as quickly or slowly as you like.
    Include some bunches of fresh spices. Just rinse them off and throw them in.
  • Avoid certain veggies that tend to have overpowering flavors, unless you really want the stock to be dominated by those flavors. Broccoli and asparagus come to mind.
  • Ditto with spices. If you use oregeno, use only a little. Avoid cilantro.
  • Match the spices with with the meat. Rosemary goes with beef. Thyme goes with bird. Etc.

Comments

  1. #1 T. Bruce McNeely
    November 14, 2007

    Another tip – if you’re using a chicken or turkey carcase to make stock, watch out for seasonings used to roast the bird. I made a stock with bones and leftover meat from a chicken I had roasted over the barbeque with jerk seasoning. I almost threw up my GI tract when I tasted it!

  2. #2 chezjake
    November 15, 2007

    A couple more points:

    1. The cold water, slow heating start is especially important if you want a clear stock.

    2.Besides the herbs mentioned, most stocks benefit from the addition of a bay leaf, a couple of whole, peeled garlic cloves, and 6-8 whole peppercorns.

    In addition, I’d add that I’ve had some excellent results for both the dinner and the subsequent stock from smoke roasting turkey or chicken in an outdoor smoker. The downside being the lack of good drippings for gravy.

  3. #3 Mr. Gunn
    November 15, 2007

    A cool way to clarify the stock is to add a little gelatin while it’s hot, make the gel, then freeze it and then put it in the fridge in strainer over a bowl. The ice crystals will separate the clear liquid from the gel and when they melt, the stock will drain into the bowl below, leaving the fat and solids trapped in the gel.

  4. #4 andy
    November 15, 2007

    Instead of using gelatin to clarify the stock, I strain the stock of the veggies and herbs (use a bouquet garni), return the now strained stock to the simmer, add several egg whites and continue simmering it for a bit (30 minutes or so). The egg whites will solidify, absorbing the impurities. Then _carefully_ strain the stock through a cheesecloth, being careful not to break up the “scrambled” egg whites, now a greyish icky layer on top of your stockpot. This will give you a beautifully clear stock, ideal for consomme. Time-consuming? Yes. But definitely worth your while, especially if you make LOTS.

  5. #5 andy
    November 15, 2007

    PS: Discard the bones, but use the meat for curry.