How to make 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.

Here are some additional comments from my readers:

  • 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! . T. Bruce McNeely
  • The cold water, slow heating start is especially important if you want a clear stock. -chezjake
  • 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. -chezjake
  • 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. -chezjake
  • 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. -Mr Gunn
  • 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. – andy
  • PS: Discard the bones, but use the meat for curry. -andy

Comments

  1. #1 Marnie
    November 18, 2012

    I’ve heard that a little acid (apple cider vinegar is often recommended) will help to break down the connective tissues further. I can’t verify if that is true, but I usually add a little anyway. Just go easy on it if you plan to use the stock for cooking dried beans or lentils.

    I also keep some ox tail in the freezer to add when I’m making stock. That stuff is just lousy with collagen and gives the stock a great silkiness. I use it even in chicken stock. I’m not a purist.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    November 18, 2012

    Nor are you a Vegan!

  3. #3 Marnie
    November 18, 2012

    Definitely not a vegan. It seems like most vegan cuisine is just one food doing a bad job of trying to emulate another food, which is a personal peeve of mine. Nothing made of vegetables is “bacon” and nothing made of cashews is “cheese”. I like vegetables and I like cashews and if I’m going to eat them, I want them to be the best preparation of themselves they can be. And if I’m going to eat something with bacon and cheese on it, it’s damn well going to have some dead pig and cow/sheep/goat lactation on it.

    I might be a little passionate about food.

  4. #4 Doug Alder
    November 18, 2012

    The egg white way was how I was taught to clarify a stock. Greg I would recommend roasting the bones first before making the stock from them – much more flavour that way.

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