Maybe you don’t think stock recipes are as exciting as those for moist chocolate cupcakes or rich light and airy blueberry crepes. I’m going to change your mind.
Why a Good Stock is Important
Stock is foundational to cooking. Used in sauces, soups, main dishes, side dishes, the flavors in your stock permeate every part of the dish. If your stock is flavorful and balanced, it will enhance your dish. Flat and uninteresting stock adds nothing and can even take away from your final product.
This is true of all ingredients – spices, herbs, fruits, veggies, oils. Each ingredient adds something which is the very reason it’s important to use quality products in your cooking.
Once you’ve been making stock for a while, the recipe becomes ingrained in you and isn’t as necessary. You know what you like and what you don’t and modify the ingredients to fit your taste. When first starting out, though, it’s good to have a recipe. Make it once or twice as is and then modify as you see fit.
Why I Make My Own Stock
I make my own stock for several reasons.
- It’s healthier than pre-packaged stock. I know what goes in the pot, it’s fresh, and I can control the flavors. When making chicken stock, I can cook it long enough to extract nutrients from the chicken bones, too. You don’t get that with a store bought stock.
- It’s frugal. I can use every last bit of my ingredients by saving scraps and freezing them until I make stock. This way, I throw nothing away and don’t have to spend more at the store.
- I can make a pot of stock while I’m at home on Sunday afternoon or when I have a big baking day in the kitchen. It’s not any extra trouble and only requires a small bit of planning on my part.
Why not just use chicken or beef stock?
Vegetable stock produces a light, fragrant broth that compliments a fish dish or vegetarian soup instead of competing with them like a chicken or beef stock would. Of course, you can use chicken stock if that’s what you’re going for. It all depends on your intent for the dish.
Vegetable stock is simple to make as it doesn’t require skimming or fat removal. I can throw this together in 10 minutes and leave it to simmer away with virtually no maintenance.
Variations on a Theme
I’ve seen vegetable stocks with a variety of ingredients, including:
- bell pepers
- swiss chard
Roasting the vegetables before making the stock is also an option, which would yield a deeper, richer stock.
This recipe was adapted from Entertaining Light by one of my favorite cooks, Martha Rose Shulman. She’s not sugar free or gluten free, but her recipes are always delicious and easily adapted to fit my needs. If you don’t have any of her books, you should at least here and add one or two to you Amazon.com Wish List. I have most of her books but there are still a few on my list.
What are your favorite ways to make and use stock?
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This is linked to Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.
Serves: 2 quarts
- 10 cups of filtered water
- 2 medium onions, quartered
- 1 leek, white and light green part only, cleaned well and sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, cut in half
- 3 carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 3 celery ribs, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 4 sprigs of fresh parsley
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 10 black peppercorns
- salt to taste if desired
- Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for an hour. Strain and discard vegetables. Let stock cool and store in mason jars.
- This freezes well and will keep for several days refrigerated in an airtight container.